Should You Quit Your Day Job to Write Your Novel?

Does your name start with J.K. and end with Rowling? Do your friends call you Stephen King*? Then no, you shouldn’t. Post over.

Just kidding.

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m a “day job” writer, meaning I consider myself to be a writer even though my day job has nothing to do with writing. I currently work for a wealth management company which, for an English major like me, is basically on the other side of the world from my comfort zone. I don’t like numbers and they don’t like me. But I have a good job, and I’m really thankful for it.

But there have been moments — days, weeks — when I’ve been so desperate to write for a living, when I’ve felt so incapable and just plain bad at my job, that I didn’t think I’d make it. Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit on the spot and never go back? I have about one every week. (Because yeah, you don’t want to screw up someone’s investment portfolio.)

Now, I should go ahead and be honest with you: This is not a step-by-step guide on the logistics of quitting your job and setting up a freelance writing business or blog (that’ll come later 😉 ). This is more of a nudge to get you thinking in the right direction so you can clarify your goals as a writer and determine what’s truly best for you.

So. You’ve established that you want to quit your job to write full-time, right? But you’ve also established that it’s not very practical, at least not yet? Then let’s answer a few questions together so we can get on the right track mentally.

  1. Are you happy doing what you currently do for a living?

    No. I love my coworkers, but I don’t like the work. It doesn’t suit me or my skill set.

  2. What would you like to write for a living?

    Novels and blog posts (both for myself and clients).

  3. Do you see that happening in the next five years? Why or why not?

    Yes. I didn’t at first, but now I have a plan, a desire, and the right oppositional force, which is my persistent dissatisfaction at work.

  4. If not, what can you do right this second to take a tiny, mini, kitten step (they’re smaller than baby steps) toward making it a possibility?

    I have started writing consistently. Even if I don’t have time to reach huge word counts most days, I’m starting where I can.

  5. Say “I will be a successful {fill in the blank}.” Do you believe yourself? (No, not do you believe in yourself. Do you believe yourself.)

    I will be a successful novelist. Yes, I believe myself.

Sorry that got sort of weird and feely for a minute. I’m not trying to put you on the therapy couch — you’ll notice I answered the questions, too. I just think it’s helpful to grip these thoughts when they show up and instead of letting them go, hang on to them. When you think, “Gee, I’d love to write YA mystery novels!” you do not have to let that thought flit in and out of your mind of its own will. You are the only. person. in. the. WORLD. with the power to grab it and make something of it. 

SO DO IT. Next time you think it, don’t let it get buried in laundry, balance sheets, lesson plans, income reports, or whatever aspects of your day are bogging you down. You are hungry for a reason. Feed the good thoughts.

Ink Blots & Happy Thoughts: 20 Lessons Learned in My First Year of Freelance Writing e-book by Meg Bliss >>> download it here! | writing tips, writing books, writing quotes, freelance writing, work at home moms, make money online


Getting back to the original question: Should you quit your job to write for a living? I can’t answer it for you. You have to ask yourself the right questions and answer them honestly. (Writer’s Digest has some good, practical ones, too.) Should you quit? Maybe not today. But can you get there? Yes, absolutely. But it is up to you and you alone. You’ll have to stop waiting for approval, or permission, or good luck. None of those things are solid enough for you to build your career or your future on.

Action is. 500 words per day. One blog post per week. One poetry reading per month. One article query per night. Start somewhere.

And believe yourself.

*It occurred to me that Stephen King’s friends probably don’t even call him Stephen King. They probably just call him Stephen. Maybe Steve.

So what’s it gonna be: Are you thinking of quitting your job to write? How close are you to taking that step? Leave a comment below or join the Ladies in Read on Pinterest to share your best writing advice and inspiration.

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Should You Quit Your Job to Write Your Novel? These 5 Questions Might Help | | quit your job, write a book, writing tips, writing encouragement


About Meghan

Meghan is a novelist, blogger, and copyeditor fueled by coffee and red lipstick. When she's not typing away you can find her reading, organizing, or watching old sitcoms and superhero movies with her husband, cat, and baby-to-be.


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