In mid-2014, I quit my job as an accountant and became a full-time writer. Sounds like a dream right?
In many ways, becoming a full-time writer really has been a dream come true. Every day is exciting and I'm constantly growing and pushing myself. Would you like to write full-time in 2015 too?
If you want to become a full-time writer, here are five steps you can take:
1. Build Your Network
Connect with people you are naturally drawn to. Over time, authentic relationships will grow. Then when you need writing work, ask for it. The best options to contact others include Facebook messages, Twitter Direct Messages, Linked In messages, email, texting and phone calls. If you're not sure who to contact, a general inquiry status on Facebook is a decent start. When you reach out to someone, keep track of the response on a spreadsheet. Be careful not to just contact people when you need something. Instead, stay in touch with your friends intentionally.
Here’s the secret no one tells you: you'll likely have to say “yes” to some jobs you never pictured yourself doing. This is totally normal. Also know that many writing opportunities pay next to nothing. It’s possible you may have to pick up some of those. If you have a great network in place, you will spend more time writing and less time spent searching for new clients.
2. Manage Your Time
When you are the boss, you must have discipline. There is no way around it. Writing when you “feel like it” is a great way to have skinny kids, past due notices and a very unhappy landlord.
The timer will become your best friend as it lets you know how much time you have spent on a task. Otherwise, you could easily spend hours on “research” or social media. A great free app to consider is StayFocusd which is a plugin for the Google Chrome browser. It blocks time distracting apps after a set amount of time or just blocks them altogether.
Some days are simply more productive than others. To keep this in mind, measure your success in hours worked as well as words per day. Both metrics are important, not just the word count. Know you simply cannot write all the time. Your mental energy has to be refilled in some way, so spend some time with a book, exercise, take a nap and play with your kids. Again, use a timer or at bare minimum set aside some intentional time here.
3. Use the Right Tools
Figure out what works for you and use it. The less tools you use, the more mental energy you can devote to writing. For example, I use Microsoft Word for freelance work because it is required, Scrivener for ebooks and physical paper for outlines of rough drafts. Nothing else. If a change in tools is required, it is best to finish the current projects and then make the change. Otherwise, you slow yourself down when you try to learn how to use a new application and do your work.
4. Create Multiple Income Streams
Very few writers can live off just their books. Unless you have an entire library of popular books, you will need to diversify your income. Many writers choose freelance writing, speaking, editing or even teaching. I absolutely love the variety. And don’t forget—if you create great products, they can provide income for years to come.
5. Write A Lot
Talent isn’t enough. What matters is discipline. It is 10,000 times harder to be a full time writer than you think it will be. But it is totally worth it. Write intentionally and set a timer in specific amounts of time to maximize your efforts. I prefer the Pomodoro method because it is very similar to the “practice” used in the comments on this blog. You set a timer for twenty-five minutes and work until the time is up. After a five minute break, you work for another twenty-five minutes. This also is an easy way for you to know how much time you spend on a project.
A Final Word
Don’t fall for the myth that you have to be a full time writer to be a real writer. Albert Einstein wasn’t a full time scientist, he actually had a job at a patent office. This position gave him the income needed to live and in the evenings he worked on his dream. You alone determine your goals as a writer. If you want to become a full-time writer, by all means go for it. If you want to write and pursue other career choices, that is completely fine as well.
Do you want to become a full-time writer? Let us know in the comments section.
For practice, do fifteen minutes of writing that you have been putting off. This will help you develop more discipline. If you want to go longer than fifteen minutes, by all means keep writing. The best part is this—as you you continue to build up your hustle muscle, you will find yourself writing more and more.
Don’t forget to share your work in the comments. How did it go? Did you spend more than fifteen minutes writing?