Writing: A Career Or Your Hobby?

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Writing: A Career Or Your Hobby?

 

            I write full-time, as anyone reading this blog will know. I have been for the last two years, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I can think of no better job than being my own boss, creating something from scratch each day and then having to do most (if not all) of the work to make money doing it.

            For years I wrote between work schedules, kids, marriages and divorces and a hundred other things. I wrote sporadically and I wrote random stories and have a ton of unfinished and/or vague ideas on hard drives, thumb drives, floppy discs and a dead Brother word processor. I wrote when I could and I just sat down and wrote something with no real goal in mind and no real focus.

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            Until two years ago, when it was sink or swim. I had no financial backing, no spouse to fall back on to pay the bills. I tried to find a ‘real’ job but there’s nothing out there for a forty-something retail manager who made really good money and worked really long hours.

            I decided to give this writing thing a shot and gave myself twelve months. I read every blog I could about writing and publishing and asked advice, learning from guys like JA Konrath and Scott Nicholson, authors who were already in the trenches and making an honest living doing this.

            I set a personal dollar figure goal but also wanted to put out at least 12 releases in the year because from my research I knew the more you had for sale the better off you were with potential readers finding you.

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            I am very lucky in that I can write fast and can focus each day to hit a 2,000 word day. I usually do more. My record in one day is 18,000 words, done in a little over 16 straight hours. I have a nice 10,000 word a week goal, so anything over 520,000 words a year is a bonus.

            But I’ve run into authors who put out one 25,000 word novella in a year, buy 500 copies in print at $7.00 a book and then end up selling 10-20% of them locally. And consider themselves having a career in writing. I suppose you could argue they do, but is it really a career or a hobby? Too often I see the bored housewife syndrome. Writing is something for them to do to fill up their time, and that is not a bad thing. Writing is a great release and helps with stress and getting away from reality, but when you suddenly decide you are a legitimate author you need to back it up, have some actual goals in mind and try to get somewhere with it.

            Or else it’s a hobby.

            Not everyone strives to be a successful author, published and making money and enough to pay their monthly bills. I’ve talked with dozens of authors who just wanted to put that first book out to say they could do it, and other authors who have a steady income and do the writing gig on the side when they have time, and enjoy doing it.

            But the goal is to know what you are and who you are, and know your limits. Taking on too many projects and never completing them is a sure way to let people know you aren’t serious, and feeling you don’t need to be on Twitter or have a blog of your own or do any of the leg work is another way to always be known as the quirky local author but never getting enough sales to justify you proudly exclaiming you’re a legitimate writer doing this for a living.

            Because it is a hobby to you.

            The first year I did this full-time I had 26 releases published, more the next. This coming November alone I will have 10. Which might be more than the hobby people have in their career. Why? Because I’m focused, and if I don’t sell another book I don’t eat.

            This is my career and I’m living the dream doing it.

            How about you?

Armand

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22 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on blindoggbooks and commented:
    A very interesting question from an even more interesting guy. Writing is one of those pursuits which can be done full-time or part-time and with as much conviction as you desire…but it’s important to be honest with yourself. Is your level of commitment enough to accomplish your goal?

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    • It is a do or die career for those that are doing it for the steady income. For myself, it is a career. it simply has to be because I have no other income except for a measly disability check compliments of my ex husband. That is in no way enough to pay one bill let alone all of them. I am impressed with your blog. I am impressed with the fact that you can get so many out. I released two books last year, but it was late in the year. I thought that i was doing something great when I set a goal of six novels for this year and am keeping up with the goal. R.L. Stine told me that he writes ten pages a day and that’s how he gets so many books out a year. I set daily goals, but when the writing urge hits, I write up to 120,000 words at one time straight through. That may seem impossible, but if you ever ran on my schedule, you would see how I have to make that work for me. You are amazing Armand! Keep up that great work! 🙂

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  2. I’ve had to light a fire under the publishers I’ve been ‘blessed’ with. I write like a maniac, but have problems getting the right people in place to get them out. I have a stack of manuscripts piled on my desk, just waiting for the publishing wheels to turn. I write fulltime. My publishers don’t publish fulltime, and that’s my problem.

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  3. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I often see writers who, in truth, write as a time-soak, often to fulfil a need of their own – because of the pleasure they themselves get out of writing-as-activity as opposed to playing-Half-Life-as-activity or whatever. I meet them occasionally at writers’ parties – everybody has ‘a book’ in them. Do they write productively? No. The reality of writing professionally is that it’s a business, it’s hard, it’s got its drudgery just like every other job. And it has to be managed and run like any job. Quality counts. Output counts. Both are essential. And the professionals produce.

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  4. Thumbs up for being prodigious and determined. I can’t give up my day job to try to live the dream because it would be bad for my marriage, and detrimental to the mortgage payments. I’m working as much as I can, whilst maintaining a balance, I know the figure I need to quit my day job. I know exactly how many “fans” I need and exactly how many novels to write each year. One day, I will breakthrough, because I’m a good writer. For now, I battle along, enjoying minor successes for myself, encouraging others and rejoicing in success, however a person measures it.

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  5. Although I have been published several times in different genres, I still consider myself as a hobby writer rather than a career. I also am a freelance editor, working mostly with local FRPG companies (living north of Redmond WA has some benefits) as well as some local authors. I find that I enjoy being an editor more than writer, but I am able to do both sometimes. It is nearly impossible to edit yourself. I find that I enjoy developmental editing (the big picture) rather than line or copy editing. I also enjoy helping to break writer’s block and am a good sounding board for ideas. I mainly deal with military terms, jargon and proper weapon usage, as most writers, I have discovered are not “gun people” and therefore have no clue how most firearms operate. One of my favorite local authors wanted to put a suppressor on a revolver which is impossible except for one old revolver.

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