When to go full-time writing? (Answer: Get yourself a plan.)

Quick note: I started writing this blog post last week, and then this week exploded on me, like even today. So rather than shoehorn everything into this post, just follow me on Twitter and you’ll get more up to date stuff that happens to me.

Or continue to follow me here…looks like I’m gonna have to start updating the blog more.

Also, if you look over to the right, you’ll see a new button called “Buy me a coffee!” I do talk about that in the post below, so read on, 🙂


A couple of weeks ago, the SFF community was going off on this article about a writer who had gotten a huge advance on her trilogy, quit her job, moved to New York, then was startled when her advances for subsequent books shrunk, which meant cranking out more books, and why hadn’t anyone told her something like this would happen? 

I don’t have time to dive too much into it, and anyway, other writers broke the post down better than I could

But I wanted to zero in on what happened when this writer received her first, then her second advance, because I’m pretty sure that, had if I sold my novel series and had gotten the same advances like that, I would’ve done the same thing. Not so much move to New York, or buy $15 drinks (I usually don’t do drinks at cons all that much anymore, and sorry NY, but I’m a south side Chicagoan through and thorugh), but quit my job? Absolutely. That’s the dream of all of us writers, right? That once we hit the big-time, we can say bye-bye to that nastything dayjob.  That’s why I got so excited when I finished my novel earlier this year. I was getting closer to reaching my dream. That’s means that one day, I could quit the dayjob and making this a full-time gig, right?  

But then, I started talking to my writer friends who have books out and are way more experienced in these matters than I am.  A whole lot of them told me the same thing: don’t quit the dayjob unless you have a plan. 

I also follow a lot of writers who write about the struggle of balancing writing with dayjobs, and post their yearly writing incomes to show what they’ve earned, because if there’s one thing we writers love to do, it’s talking about whether or not you should go full-time. And basically, what I got from those conversations were don’t quit the dayjob unless you have a plan.

And then, well, there was this article which talks about the decline in authors’ earnings, or even if I search “reality of becoming a full-time writer” in Google. Even the ones who are gung-ho about it say the same freakin thing: DON’T QUIT THE DAYJOB UNLESS YOU HAVE A PLAN HOLY COW IT’S ALL RIGHT THERE ALL SHE HAD TO DO WAS GOOGLE BECOMING A FULL TIME WRITER HOW COULD SHE NOT KNOW IT’S ALL RIGHT THERE AUUUGHHHHHH

Er, hm. 

It looks discouraging, true. It got me to wondering: is it even possible to make a living from writing? After talking to my friends and doing some research, the answer I came up with is: well, it depends.

Different writers have different ways to get income. For most, it involves having a dayjob. For others, it means freelancing. For even others, they have saved enough money to live on while they write, then do contract or freelance work when times are slim. There are several writers I know who do all three. There are some who do, like some who publish independently, but they have a whole lot of books under their belt and are constantly hustling to get their name out there. And then there are some full-time writers who had to go back to work due to circumstances that was no fault of their own. Being a full-time writer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll stay a full-time writer. 

The point is, there are a lot of writers who do make a living from writing. But no one I knew was getting money from just fiction. They had learned to diversify their income streams. Some from teaching and doing speaking events. Some got their money from freelancing. Others got theirs from dayjobs. Which got me to thinking–what’s wrong with having a dayjob? What exactly am I thinking of when I say I want to be a full-time writer? 

So the real question I should be asking is not should I quit the dayjob, but am I ready to step into freelance writing full-time?

At this point, no. I haven’t sold a novel yet. I know that at this point in my life, I’m not making anything off my writing that I can quit the dayjob. I sold a couple of stories and a bunch of articles last year that netted me a whopping thousand bucks. Which…actually, is pretty darn good for someone who has a full-time job. But it’s not paying bills right now, nor does it account for other things like benefits or retirement. I still need the dayjob for that.

But it gives me a goal to work towards now. I can start planning on how to do that. I can make a business plan (shout out to Monica Valentinelli for talking to me about that). It means researching on what it meant to be a freelancer. Joining freelancing groups. Even taking a business class.  I’m blessed in that I have a partner who also works full-time and my kid is old enough that he does homework while I do writing. But we’ll have to do a lot of planning if I decide to move into full-time freelance.

And maybe that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll find that sweet spot of balancing the dayjob with the freelance job. The trick is finding the right dayjob. I actually really like the dayjob I have now–it gives me the change to move around, which is helpful for me for putting writing brainstorming on the backburner. But my ideal dayjob would be something that is flexible, even have some benefits like retirement and time off pay, and allows me to work from home.

One big thing I’m doing to generate more income is that I finally decided to create a Ko-fi account. I’m not at the point where I can generate content on a consistent schedule, but if you like what I do and if you want to support me in my writing, you can buy me a coffee! It’s not much (and I’m actually a more tea person except I’ve really gotten hooked on Nitro Coffee which is amaaaaaaaaaaazing), but it’s something, and it’s set that if I do find a way to offer content monthly, I can go the subscriber route if I want to. 

Also, I got an agent! I’m now being represented by Kristopher O’Higgins at the Scribe Agency. Looking forward to working with him to get my novel out to publishers.

So, as you can see, I got a plan. We’ll see if it works.

Last week, a woman who was attending a meeting in our building came to me and said, “By the way, I came across your website. Your stories are amazing. Why aren’t you doing this full-time.”

I could’ve just said everything I just wrote above, but what came out was, “I’m…working on it?”

She said, “I’m going to pray that you do.”

Well, alrighty.

LaShawn’s GenCon Schedule, and surprise—I’m the new editor of GigaNotoSaurus

So, let’s get the big news out the way. Remember when I made this tweet? Well, the title says it all—I’ve taken over editorial duties for the magazine GigaNotoSaurus. For those of you who don’t know, this is an online magazine who publishes one story a month, bigger than a short story, smaller than a novel. The last time I did editorial duties was back when I was an Associate Editor at PodCastle. Feels nice to dip my toes in these waters again.

That said, there’s a lot of backlogged stories for me to go through. If you submitted and you’re still waiting, please bear with me. It’s been a while since I read stories for publication. I’ll start cracking on those, starting with the oldest.

In the meantime, I’m going to be heading to GenCon this week and will be on panels at the Writer’s Symposium. Here’s my panel schedule, and feel free to come by and say hi!

Thursday, August 1

Writing About Places You Never Visited

10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Marriott Bllrm 1
How do you understand the vibe of a place well enough to translate it to your readers if you’ve never been there? Lucy A. Snyder, LaShawn Wanak, Seth Skorkowsky, and Corry Lee tell you how.

Work for Hire Writing: What Is It? How Is It Different?

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Marriott Bllrm 2
One way to make it as a writer is to have multiple income streams, and that could mean writing fiction for hire. LaShawn Wanak, James Lowder, Joseph Carriker, Jr., and John Helfers discuss this work.

Friday, August 2

Scrivener Demystified

10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Marriott Bllrm 4
So you’ve decided to ditch the notebook or Word to give this whole Scrivener program a whirl. Can this program make your process better? Come learn from LaShawn Wanak, A. E. Greenwood, and more

Capturing the Creepy: Getting the Details Right

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Marriott Bllrm 1
Horror and suspense writers want to captivate their readers without grossing them out, or worse, boring them. Lucy Snyder, Richard Byers, and others discuss how much detail is necessary.

When Characters Grieve: The Line Between Feelings and Melodrama

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Austin/Boston
LaShawn Wanak, Carol Berg, Devon Monk, and Jerry Gordon discuss how to show character grief without making readers roll their eyes.