Giving up the Day Job to Write

Should you give up the day-job to write full time?

Sitting down at your own desk writing, and only writing is very appealing.

For many writers it’s a dream come true.

But, ditching your job is a big step and the idea should be considered very carefully.


No matter how frugally we live, we all have bills, rent, electricity, heating etc.

Some people have a romantic idea of the starving artist in a garret.

However, even garrets cost money. Until you are making money from your writing you must have some kind of income.

That is, unless you have someone to support you, or have an inheritance, or trust fund. If so – lucky you!

If not, then you need a job.


Whether you need full-time or part-time work depends on your personal needs.

This means you need to work out exactly how much you need to live on.

Think about all the money you spend. Not just rent and utilities, but food, clothes, social life, computer software, ink cartridges etc.

Draw up a budget – use a spreadsheet if you can.

Be sure to include everything you can think of in your finance sheet before you come to any decision.

Try making a note of everything you spend over two months to give you a clearer picture of your own personal financial needs.


I know from experience that this can work. Earlier in my career I worked in admin and worked on my scripts and stories in the evenings.

Years later I combined creative writing and script writing teaching work and also some radio and television work with my ‘own’ writing.

Combining the income from different sources worked for me. I kept my bills paid, my head above water and even managed the odd holiday and meal out.


However, when Ireland was hit by recession a lot of the work I had disappeared. I also had a serious accident which has left me with some continuing health issues.

My accident was devastating, but it taught me that no matter how carefully you plan, some things are out of our control.

You do need to think about what might happen; if only to motivate you to keep a little money in reserve.


The recession meant my teaching jobs disappeared.

When the radio show I wrote for was axed I became a full-time writer with a part-time income.

This income from my book and story sales was, as it is for most writers – very unreliable.

So I thought hard about what else to do.

When I saw an advert for a website development course I decided it might be a way to supplement my writing.


I had learned some hard lessons and really wanted to get as independent as I could.

I never wanted the bad management of my country’s finance to hit me so hard – ever again.

I began my quest for independence by starting websites like this one. You can read about how I did this here.

The websites replaced my ‘real’ teaching jobs with ‘virtual teaching.’

My virtual teaching includes providing writing information, creative writing exercises and support to beginners and other writers.


I started my www.gracelikestogarden.com website purely to record my own gardening activities as I tried to tame my wilderness garden here in Galway.

I was surprised to discover that a lot of people liked the site and it has opened up a world of gardening to me.

I now communicate with other gardeners all over the world. This also provides a small income from adverts.


One of my writing projects has been the creation of a fictional village called Ballyyahoo.

I placed Ballyyahoo on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way where I happen to live and began to write and develop a series of children’s stories set there.

The series needed a virtual home so I developed another site for Ballyyahoo.

This site became a home for additional stories, characters, information about nature, animals and the area of Ballyyahoo.

This proved so successful that I have now begun the process of linking the Ballyyahoo stories to the site.

This means that in addition to the books, children can enjoy a host of free stories and supplementary materials.

I really have great fun with this site. I had written for children’s radio in the past and I badly missed the fun and freedom of imagination I enjoyed during that time.


I hope in future to engage an artist to illustrate the stories more fully.

I keep the stories short and the prices low so I cannot afford to employ a regular artist at this time, but I am working towards this stage and hopefully it won’t be too long before I can.

This has been a lot of work on my own and I can’t say it was easy.

I had to start from scratch, learning new skills, developing the sites, and eventually gaining the significant traffic I now have.

Personally, it also took me time for me to really relax and get in to the swing of the different style that writing for the Internet demanded.

People skim-read when reading from websites and blogs so I learned to space out my paragraphs more than I would in a book.


Galway Causeway illustrating an article about giving up the day job to write full timeWriting is my life and it has taken years to develop my writing skills.

I’m not finished yet. I never want to retire.

I intend spending the rest of my life writing and developing my work further.

There is no end to learning and there is always something more to learn about writing.

The writing muscles need to be used over and over again, over long periods of time, if you are ever to become a good writer.

As for the websites, well this too has taken time, years in fact.

I am now in a position where the adverts and affiliate stuff give me a modest income.

This also helps defray the site expenses and this looks set to improve.


My book Practical Creative Writing Exercisesis another venture which is helping me keep afloat.

I had the idea of writing this book when visitors started telling me how much the information and exercises on this site helped and inspired them.

My years of teaching writing made me realize that helping others to develop and use their imagination is my strong point.

Luckily for me, this is also something I really enjoy.

I am glad to say that the feedback from readers has been great and the book is helping me keep the wolf from the door.

If you are a writer you will already know that means a lot.


So, having said all this, it might seem easier for someone wealthy to ditch their jobs and devote their time to writing, but it is not always the case.

I have seen a writer come into money which enabled her to write full-time for a year.

Unfortunately, she failed to produce the work.

It seems that too much time and money had a demotivating effect on her.


The need to earn enough money to pay the next bill can be a great motivator.

This can help a writer focus in on the work in hand.

So, if you are considering giving up a job give it lots of thought and be brutally honest.

You need to be honest about everything, not just about your future ability to pay the bills.

You also need to consider your own ability to work without having a ‘boss’ to motivate you.


A writer should not let future hopes cloud reality.

The hardest question you need to ask yourself is this:

If you are not making money from your writing right now – how do you know you will make money after you quit your job?

So think carefully before you tell your boss where they can stick their job!

As always, I wish you the very best of luck with your writing


P.S. Click here to read my personal experience of writing for the market.








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