Sure You’re a Full-Time Writer—But are You a Happy One?

    Don't be sad, little writer.

Don’t be sad, little writer.

I’ve seen this a lot with both indie authors and freelancers—they focus on becoming a full-time writer because, hell, don’t we all just want to sit and play with words all day? They break their backs to get there and then, once they do, they’re absolutely miserable.

So many writers want desperately to go full time, yet they don’t realize how many people are doing just that—making $10k or more per month—who are nervous wrecks because they know that the landscape is changing and there’s no way to reliably create a predictable income or how many of them go without realizing the importance of making a profit and live a life of constant struggling. Sure you can get another client or put out another book, but what kind of long-term income promise does that really give?

This drives some full-time writers to become desperate, bringing on depression, anxiety, insecurity, obsession, paranoia and other assorted miseries. You can sometimes see it in the blogs of the newly full-time. Their posts plummet steadily from awesomesauciness to self-doubting, happiness to frustration. Then they start lashing out at people, from reviewers to other writers, clients and even readers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can be more than just a full-time writer. You can be a profitable writer and let go of the fear that often grips those who are in a non-traditional career situation. Here are a few easy tips that you can incorporate right now to make yourself feel happier and more financially secure:

Spend Less

One of the easiest ways to get control of your freelance/indie lifestyle is to spend less than you did when you were traditionally employed. Honestly, you probably should have been spending less then, too. See, nothing in life is a sure thing. You might have felt your income was more secure when you had a trad job, but it really wasn’t. Business downturns, layoffs and firings happen all the time. But whatevs—you’re on your own now. So work through your budget and cut anything that isn’t essential so you can sock more cash into savings.

Go Payroll or Go Home

Determine what you need to pay yourself, pay your benefits (such as health insurance & retirement savings) and what should be put aside for taxes, and commit to a set payroll for yourself. Any income you bring in that exceeds your payroll should just sit in your business savings account. Don’t go splurge on a kitchen rehab, new car or vacation that month you make $15k, just pay yourself a normal pay check and let the rest sit. That way, it can fill in during one of those bad months when your income falls for no apparent reason. Or, if your income remains stable, you could use it for advertising, investing in the business, and so on.

Diversify, My Little Chameleons

Having an income stream from just one activity is … yeah … really freakin’ scary. And there’s no need for it. You can add a little extra cheddar by doing some editing on the side, some design work, formatting files, proofreading, whatever your particular skillset allows. Heck, you can even go get a part time job just a few hours a week to make you feel like you’ve got a little more control over your income.

You stop living a dream when your life becomes a nightmare. Just because you achieved your goal of becoming a full-time writer, that doesn’t mean it’s where you want to stay. If you can’t get comfortable with the unknown, you might just be happier going back to a traditional job—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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