Writing Wednesdays: The truth about why I'm not a full-time writer

January 24, 2018
There are two main reasons why I'm not a full-time writer, and I talk about both in this post.

Assuming you know a little about me from either my social media or from following this blog, you probably already know that I'm an author as well as being on a graduate scheme.

I've talked before about how authors earn money, but this week I wanted to use Writing Wednesdays to explain why I'm not a full-time writer.

For me, there are two main reasons.

The first is, very simply, to do with money.

As you'll know if you read the post I linked above on how authors actually earn money, the money you earn from writing can be inconsistent. 

For those of you who aren't so familiar - when you get a publishing deal, you get an advance (usually split into thirds, paid: on signing, on delivery of manuscript, on publication); you then have to earn out the advance before you're paid any royalties, which many published writers don't do. You can earn money from library lendings (PLR), translation rights, and so on.

It's not a monthly paycheck. It's not a salary. The amount you earn can vary wildly. Mine has in only five/six years of being published.

I got my publishing deal when I was seventeen. I was planning (and did) go to university after I finished school, and at that point, the money was lovely to save up and think of as a bit of a nest egg to go towards a house deposit some day. But I knew, by the time I graduated, that the money I would earn as a writer might not be enough to keep me going.

Last article I read on this (which I can't find now for the life of me) said that authors earn, on average, below minimum wage. Many authors have a spouse, so there's someone else to input into things like rent and bills and food, and they can afford to be a full-time writer. Many authors have another job (usually in the publishing world, I've found, though several I've met are also teachers) or some other source of income, like freelancing. 

I didn't want to take that risk.

But money isn't the main reason I'm not a full-time writer. It's a contributing factor, sure, but certainly not the biggest reason.

The main reason I'm not a full-time writer is because right now, I don't want to be.

Like I said: I got my publishing deal when I was seventeen. I'd sent off my university applications literally about a week before. I still fully intended to go to uni and get my physics degree, because that was my plan and because I wanted to. The publishing deal was just this incredible, amazing bonus. 

I'd always thought I'd do the whole school, uni, grad job thing. And that's exactly what I did. It was what I wanted to do. I wanted a job (and not just for a steady salary) so I could build a career outside of my writing.

The very sensible part of me thought: yes, I could try being a full-time writer, but not yet. It made more sense to get a job and the experience of a job sooner rather than later. There was the risk that I'd try being a full-time writer, fail miserably, make hardly any money out of it, and then several years after graduating give up and start looking for a job without much experience outside of writing.

The rest of me thought: I don't want to be just a writer.

The first grad job I took after uni was a total flop, but I started another last September which was what I'd really wanted to do all along. I'm really interested in the digital world and loved my programming course at uni; I wanted to work in IT.

And that's exactly what I'm doing now. I'm the only girl on an IT graduate scheme (though admittedly, there's only four of us on the scheme in total) and in a really exciting job that I love, with people I really enjoy working with. I like going to work every day. I enjoy what I do. I see myself building a career in it.

Now don't get me wrong - I love writing. 

I love being a writer and I'm so fortunate that I'm able to make money from my writing. I wouldn't give up being a writer for anything. It's what I've done for as long as I can remember being able to write

It's just not the only thing I love or want to be or want to do. And I figured: if I could manage to become a published author while doing A Levels and a university degree, I can damn well carry it on alongside a job.

(At least with a job, my evenings and weekends aren't eaten up with studying! Not this job, at any rate.)

So there you have it! That's why I'm not a full-time writer. Thoughts? Leave a comment below!

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