The Write Stuff: Your Guide to Becoming a Full-Time Writer

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Becoming a full-time writer is a big step, especially if you're planning to quit your day job. Before you do anything, check out this guide.

Are you stuck doing a job you hate? Do you feel like there’s something better out there waiting for you? Millions of working-class Americans feel the same way and are simply looking for an opportunity to make a change. As a writer, you’ve probably had people tell you it’s impossible to make a sustainable living. However, with so many different opportunities on the internet and a major focus on quality content creation, it’s possible to transition into becoming a full-time writer.

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Assessing the Situation

You’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about how you can quit your current job and become a writer. However, it’s important to consider a number of factors and assess the situation before making any drastic moves. Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Can I afford to quit my full-time job? Be realistic about how you answer this question. If you say, “Yeah, but I’ll need to live off food stamps,” the answer is probably no. Can you afford to quit your full-time job and still meet your monthly expenses? If not, you may want to consider part-time writing until you’re sure you can pay the bills.
  • Do I need to quit my full-time job to be successful? In other words, can you satisfy your craving to be a writer by doing it part-time? Many people find success writing for a couple of hours in the morning or at night, and don’t need to quit their day job.
  • Is full-time writing really for me? Writing may sound glamorous, but remember it’s still a job. As with any profession, there will be parts you don’t like, issues to overcome and problems to work through. Understanding potential hazards will allow you to assess whether you’re truly cut out to be a full-time writer.
  • Do I have a plan? Most importantly, you need a plan. Transitioning into a successful full-time writer requires you to set tangible goals and take specific steps to accomplish them.

Working on the Plan

During this period of time, as you consider a possible transition, it’s important to work on the plan. Will everything follow your neatly constructed outline? Certainly not, but it’s crucial you start with one.

  • Find a niche. If you know exactly what you want to write, the process is much easier. For example, some people love to write dissertations and find academic settings conducive to their talents. Others enjoy marketing and thrive in business settings. Perhaps creative writing is more up your alley. Only you can decide, but pick a specific niche to pursue.
  • Line up opportunities. This step can be exciting and imaginative. You should begin looking for opportunities, scouring the internet, networking with peers and brainstorming ideas based on the type of writing you want to do.
  • Build a portfolio. Next, you’ll need to compile a writing portfolio. Unless you’re looking to go completely on your own, you’ll probably need one to find jobs or clients. Start by compiling your best works, essays and articles. If you need to beef up your collection, spend some time writing samples that relate to your chosen niche.
  • Position yourself for success. Understand that you will likely start at the bottom of the ladder. Don’t overvalue yourself in the beginning; instead, go into this new opportunity with the mindset that you are new and inexperienced. Be willing to accept entry-level assignments and jobs to build your portfolio and refine your skills.

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Making a Move

With your plan in place, it’s time to make a move. Do you have enough flexibility with your current job that you can cut back on hours, or will you need to quit altogether? If you’re confident in your plan and have prospects, it’s time to do what it takes to pursue your dream of writing full-time.

Importantly, don’t burn any bridges leaving your current job and remember any business or peer could represent a potential writing opportunity in the future. Clearly explain what you’re doing and thank your employer for their understanding.

Getting in a Routine

One of the best things you can do is get in a routine; don’t leave any downtime between jobs and start right away. If you’re working from home, ensure you have a quiet place to write and a structured daily routine to follow. It may take some time, but your new job will eventually start to feel natural, and you’ll be grateful for the change.

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