The Courage to Do What’s Write – Being a Part time Writer

The Courage to Do What’s Write is a weekly post about what it takes to be a writer. By Jeff Hite The other day I read a blog post about […]


The Courage to Do What’s Write is a weekly post about what it takes to be a writer.

By Jeff Hite

The other day I read a blog post about being a full time writer and how it is not all that it is cracked up to be. It seems that some people have this picture in their head of what it is like to be a full time writer. I guess they expect it to be something like the life that they saw in Sex in the City. Honestly I never saw the show myself, but from what I have heard I can tell you life of a full time writer is nothing like that. How can I say that when I am not a full time writer myself? Simple, because I am a part time writer and I can tell even being a part time writer my life is nothing like that.
Some times I will throw myself a little pitty party sit down and count the number of jobs that I think I have. The list goes something like this:

1. Husband
2. Father (Dad)
3. Full Time Professional IT type person
4. Weekend job
5. Co founder of Flying Island Press
6. Managing editor Pirate’s Cove
7. Part time student (this is new)
8. Part time writer

You can imagine, by the time I get to the bottom of the list, I am tired. I am tired just looking at the list, not to mention actually doing the jobs. The other other thing you’ll will notice that part time writer is at the bottom of the list. It wants to be near the top of the list right under father. But that is not a reality since it does not pay the bills.

So how does this qualify me to say that being a full time writer is not glamorous. Let’s just say that I was able to get rid of #3 and put writer in there. Then that becomes the Full time Job. Great, more time to write, but then it has to pay the bills, which is the reason that the other job was in there in the first place right?

Let’s start with how I know writing works for a part time writer. I have deadlines, and obligations to people for things that I promised I would write, and those dates, despite that whole long list of things that I call my jobs, still have to happen. Also there is inspiration. I know that for me it hits me at the weirdest times. I end up having an idea for a story that I want to write, and it’ll bug the heck out of me until I find the time to sit down and do it.

That brings me to the next point, Inspiration and or dead lines don’t know that you have one zillion and one other things to do. They don’t know, for example, that you have to take the dog to the vets in an hour, or that you need to get the kids dressed, or that laundry folded, or your license renewed, or the car inspected. They don’t know that is it a holiday weekend and you have 42 gallons of potato salad to get made all before your mother-in-law comes over to tell you, that you really should work on keeping your kitchen cleaner. They completely don’t understand about that project you have due for school that you have been trying to get done all week, but that every time you try to do someone interrupts you, so you really need to get to it tonight. They don’t understand those things so they will keep coming at you. The deadlines keep getting closer, and the muse keeps knocking at the door, driving the dog crazy, thereby waking the kids up, thereby making it impossible for you to get your school project done and these damn potatoes peeled.

You will notice that no where in there did I mention a day job, because remember that writing is now the day job. So that you could pay the bills you had had to take on more deadlines,and more projects than you wanted to, and you still don’t really have the time to write that story that you have had in your head since 7th grade.

Your muse is no help either. When you do find that 15 minutes to sit down she is no where to be found. I guess she got tired of knocking on the door and decided that she would go for a walk or something. The point is that you have fifteen minutes and you don’t have time to sit around and wait for her to show up. You have got to get the article out now, and where the heck is she?

My point in all the is that just because you make writing your day job does not mean that you will have more time to do the writing you really want to. And you still have to deal with life. Personally I don’t want any more of that.

That brings me to my last point. As much as writing demands of me as a part time writer, being a full time writer is going to do more so. Writing is something I love to do. Sure I have deadlines and things that are under pressure, but I would not want that be become my life. I like being able to say that I am a writer, without having to have the pressure of that supporting my family. Just like any job where you work for yourself, being a full time writer knows no weekends or holidays or sick days or even vacations. You will have to live and breath writing 24/7 365. You know that story idea that is in the back of you head right now? You have to write it down now or you won’t get paid, you don’t have time to let it stew. You can’t really wait until tonight when the house is quiet and you have the computer to yourself. You have to kick the cat off the keyboard, tell the kids to go outside, shut the window and hope that you can get it out in the 30 minutes before someone comes inside needing a band-aide. Personally I am not ready for that, so I will take being a part time writer.

Does that mean I give up on my dream of being a writer? No way. It means that I am a writer who lives a real life and can enjoy the writing when I get a chance to do it.

Jeff Hite is one of the co-founders of Flying Island Press, and the managing editor of Pirate’s Cove

About Jeff Hite