Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How I began my full-time writing career

This past week and a half my family has been on vacation. We had the opportunity to visit family around some professional obligations for both my husband and I. In addition we were able to make a trip to one of my dearest friends weddings and vacation in the wonderful city of San Antonio, TX. Amongst my travels I was able to attend my writing organization, the Romance Writers of America West Houston chapter. I am a long distance member, in addition to being the newsletter editor, but I love to attend when I can and enjoyed the talk from our chapter president, Karen Burn on writing full time.

She brought up many great points that aspiring authors should consider before plunging into this uncertain career. For example, as an accountant, she advises writers to take note of their monthly expenses and how they will make ends meet before quitting that steady paying job.

In addition to that advice, I recommend testing the waters before taking the big step to being a full-time professional writer. Personally, I freelanced for nine years as a part-time career before attempting to take my writing full-time. During that time I worked as a PR practitioner and event planner, which installed a lot of discipline, practice and drive that still helps me today as a full-time writer. So, in theory, I had the opportunity to test the waters with my writing and see the possible sustainability of a freelance career prior to taking it to the full-time level. I feel that this is an important step before “taking the plunge.” It also allows me the opportunity to have a steadier paycheck while I work on novels since I have contracts as a freelance writer.

Writers also need to plan out their brand prior to becoming a full-time writer. Creating a brand takes time. As someone who was trained in PR, this is not an overnight success. This itself takes time and should be established before your time is demanded to important things such as meeting deadlines whether they are self set or not.

I planned a year out from become a full-time writer. I developed a plan with freelance contracts that I felt were stable in addition to a schedule where I could still meet my personal novel goals. This remains an ongoing struggle. I need to devote more time to my novel and “big goal” plans but it is hard to turn down reliable income. An important thing that I have found to help in my journey as a full-time writer is having a supportive family. Make sure that your spouse and family understand what you do and why you do it. Let them know how they can help you meet your goals. Set a schedule. My husband watches our daughter so many hours at night so that I can work. I’ve also hired a part-time nanny to assist with my obligations as a professional and a mother.

What steps did you take prior to becoming a full-time writer? What do you feel are the keys to your success? How do you manage your professional time amongst real life?

I currently write for local and National publications. This May I will publish my first book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ with Who Dares Wins Publishing. I’m currently revising my young adult fantasy and outlining a middle grade dystopian.


  1. Writing full-time is managing your writing career like a business. Any business takes 3 years at least to start turning profit so doing it part-time is always a best first approach. Also, it helps to think broadly. Like write your own stuff, become write coach for others, ghost write, edit others stuff, speaking engagements, and think of other ways to promote self and products. LA Banks spoke at our MWA conference and noted that she kicks out 5 to 7 books a year. That she traditionally pubs and self pubs her work, that she also seeks out writing engagements and other forms of income streams since she is a single mom and entreprenuer (Note: writer = business owner).

  2. Thanks for the shout out. Bottomline: writing is a business and treat it as such.

  3. Writing is a business in-fact writing is best treated like a second job than thinking about it as a hobby. Sometimes your day job can be very beneficial to your writing depends on what you do. Always something to keep in mind though.

  4. Afraid I could never afford a nanny. I have a big office in a big old Victorian house. I homeschooled my daughers for 17 years (not counting the college guidance I still contribute.) We worked on their school work all morning and afternoon while I wrote and published two books and almost 1000 non-fiction articles and poems (before the Internet.) I learned to do math problems while writing feature articles. You do what you gotta do.

  5. Very inspiring Natali. I wish you the best and thank you for the great advice <3