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    Home Articles

    Leap of Faith

    As writers develop their skills and become absorbed in writing as a career, they often find their outside "other" job interfereing with their writing and become increasingly frustrated at the sliver of focus.

    Often that frustration is only enhanced by authors who have made the leap from part-time to full-time writer when they say that knowing the right time to do so was a "leap of faith."

    While true for many, that isn't a lot of help to someone who is battling that question. Most of us rely on our other job incomes and having a little more guidance would be welcome.

    I've spoken to experts about this, and they repeat one rule of thumb: Don't quit the "day" job until you have 3 or 4 books on the shelf in the form of backlist, stable and continuous contracts for future books, and a steady flow of royalty income. That's their official suggestion.

    They have a good point--for sanity's sake. If the author is extremely worried about money all the time, s/he has little creativity left with which to write. The lack of money absorbs the lion's share of the writer's focus.

    Yet few writers have the luxury of attaining this position without quitting the day job and writing full-time, though I have seen several exceptions. Needless to say, it requires sacrifice. Generally of "down time" relaxing and sleep.

    Others recommend a less drastic path that I've seen work successfully many times. The writer works at "a" day job, but not one that zaps them physically or emotionally. The objective is to earn money but not interfere with the creative process, which has priority. The challenge is that these shifts are usually out of your established field, so the pay is less. But they are a happy medium for freeing your mind for your creative pursuits, so it's a worthy option to consider.

    Again, this requires sacrifice. Less pay equals less money. Less money, fewer choices and options for discretionary income. If you choose this option, make sure you consider tax ramifications as well as those on insurance coverage, retirement plans, etc. People often forget to include the value of those benefits when considering making a change.

    The bottom line is that you do commit and take a leap of faith. But not blindly, so it isn't as simple as just leaping. You leap, but only after you hedge your odds.

    Ways of doing that include: saving six months salary to carry you through the transition period and supplement your reduced income and by reducing your asset to liability ratio by paying off all possible debts (particularly high interest ones like credit cards).

    My personal advice is to pay off everything you owe that you can pay off, save enough money to cover at least six months of expenses (if you don't earn a dime), work at a job that gives you fodder for the stories you want to tell but that doesn't suppress or eat up your creativity, make sure your family (if any) is on board with their full support-and that they understand what full support means--and then take the leap.

    It isn't an easy transition, frankly, because in writing, there is no dependable, regular income. If you're sick, you don't get paid. If something out of your control--like a train wreck damages your books--your income is significantly impacted. So with writing, you can depend on the money in your hand--and only if that's not the advance. Advances can require repayment under certain conditions, like the book not being accepted.

    So writing isn't always a stable income career. But it can be. And it can be extremely lucrative. Many writers do make a good living writing. But it can take time and it definitely takes persistence to get going and keep going.

    As for the best time to take that leap of faith, in your situation, I'd build freelance writing as a secondary career until it supported my financial needs and then leap. There are scores of opportunities, particularly with the web, for freelance writers. But that too is a career that takes time to build.

    One last thing. It's vital that writers let go of the frustration of having to work the day job. Hard, but vital. Understand that there is a reason you're on this particular path with your writing. It could be to collect fodder for the types of books you'll write. It could be to gain life experience and wisdom that will help you generate memorable characters who are real to life. Whatever the reason, it's there. And being frustrated by your circumstances only saps the joy from your journey and your work. So try to let go of it and look for the reasons that things are happening in your life as they are happening. Odds are, there's a story there.

    It's in your best interest to develop an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful you have the day job. That it provides you and/or your family with what you need so that you have the luxury of being able to write.

    If you work at it--and you well may have to work at it--feeling grateful for the opportunities afforded you by the day job can be extremely beneficial to you. You are no longer frustrated and no longer focused on that frustration rather than on writing.

    Copyright © 2003 Dr. Vicki Hinze

    Dr. Vicki Hinze has sold fourteen novels, one ninfiction book, two anthologies, and has another four novels currently under contract, writing for Silhouette, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Spilled Candy Books, St. Martin's Press, and Pinnacle. Visit her Web site at

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

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