My name is Marisa, and I have a day job. I write nights and weekends. But I still have that full-time writer mindset.

The Full-Time Writer Mindset | My full-time writer mindset is what enables me to keep working toward my goals as a writer.

Original photo by Markus Spiske 

Sure, I get paid to write. But I don’t make full-time money doing it. Yet.

Look. Being a writer can be demoralizing. Everyone thinks they can do it, no one wants to pay you what you’re worth for it, and you constantly have to carve out time to sit at a computer after a long day at work in order to do more work.

But I’m not complaining. This is the life for me, and it’s what I’m really excited to do.

So how do I stay upbeat when I want to quit? It’s the full-time writer mindset.

Being a writer can be demoralizing. So How do I stay upbeat when I want to quit? Share on X

See, I know that I’ll be working as a full-time writer someday. I refuse to feel down because I don’t have it yet, or to waste time trying to find the perfect day job. I know it doesn’t exist for me, and that I’m meant to be writing. So I look forward to this time, and approach my plans and the work I do the way I would if I were writing full-time.

For me, there are three main things to keep in mind when it comes to thinking like a full-time writer. They aren’t hard-and-fast rules. (You know I don’t do well with rules, you guys. I’ve worn ripped jeans to job interviews. I’m edgy.)

Think of these three tips as the central tenets of your writerly faith. Adapt them how you see fit. And if they don’t work for you, develop your own full-time writer mindset.

The Full-Time Writer Mindset

001: It’s not the weirdest career aspiration.

People like to tell you that writers starve. This isn’t the case.

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While I will concede that I’ll never be a billionaire writer, you also will never be a billionaire. Nor will anyone you work with. Like, everyone at that hellish day job you tolerate?

Gonna be thousandaires forever.

There’s this authoritarian notion that you need an employer to sign your checks. And yeah. If you demand to work for someone else, you do. But that’s not how anyone makes real money, and it’s quite frankly a really un-American way to look at money. Are we or are we not a nation of individualists who like to bootstrap our way to the top?

(I know this is problematic on a number of levels, and largely not accurate. But I am saying that it’s so weird we believe this in our core, and then defy it by working for companies who pay us a menial amount while their profits skyrocket.)

I’m not saying that you have to launch a huge company. I’m not saying you have to fleece people out of their money. But I am saying that if you have a skill that someone is willing to pay you for, you can do it on your own terms.

Maybe not immediately. Maybe not soon. But you can.

So instead of thinking of all the ways you can rise to the top at that company that chronically underpays you or doesn’t let you ascend to the level you deserve because you aren’t the son of the CEO, take some time to find what you want to do. Then learn everything you can that will enable you to do that thing, and then leap.

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There will always be day jobs you can come back to. And there’s a good chance you’ll fail a few times before you get it right.

But if you know you’re meant to do it, don’t you owe it to yourself to do it?

002: You define success and what you are.

Okay. So. Now that we’ve agreed that your day job will probably not make you rich, it’s important for us to also talk about what success is.

Is it money? Maybe it is for you. For me, it’s not.

Sure, I need money to survive, but it’s not the most important factor. To me, success is all about doing what I want to do, and living life on my own terms.

I can’t do that with my day job. Sure, it’s there now. It’s like the angel investor for a soon-to-sprout new business. But it’s not who I am.

And this is something I can’t stress enough. You are not your day job. You know when you go to a networking happy hour or a party and people are all “what do you do?” You don’t have to tell them your day job. You can say what you really are deep down in your soul. You can tell them what you will be doing when you go full-time.

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See, that’s what a full-time writer would do.

So, I tell people I’m a writer. If they keep pressing me, I tell them I also teach. But I make sure they know that teaching is what I do to pass the time. It’s not who I am, nor will it ever be.

003: Embrace the journey.

Sometimes I look back to where I was a year ago, and it can seem like I’m in the same place, at least from the outside. But that’s not true.

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I would argue that the majority of the journey from day jobber to full-time writer is mental. And I can’t say that it’s a straight route. It takes a long time of unlearning some stuff and remembering who you are and also making time to find what you lost when you started working in that corporate environment.

It’s weird and messy and it’s a thing that I’ve been doing for a hot minute now. But it’s exactly what I need to be doing. I’ve learned to love this process of figuring out who I am, and I think it’s really important to not just dwell on the destination of full-time writer. I’m this lovely transitional beast who is making her way to where she needs to be.

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And on that note, it’s a lot like writing, isn’t it? We all love having written, right? That’s why the posts I have about writing fast or writing 10,000 words a day do so well. But it’s important to remember to enjoy getting to write. It’s not always the most fun thing you could be doing, but it’s what you need to do.

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Do You Have a Full-Time Writer Mindset?

Are you a full-time writer? How have you embraced the full-time writer mindset? What tips would you like to add? Let me know in the comments!

4 Responses

  1. I saw this post (I think) when you first published it, but a heavy sense of guilt for not writing lately kept me from opening it until now. And why? You are always both practical and straight- to-my-guts encouraging. Anyway the timing has been perfect, after all, whether my self imposed guilt trip is warranted or not. I am bought in. Your words are so strong and good. More importantly, I wish you all the very best!!! What an excellent, solid new chapter. No pun intended, but I mean… : )

    1. Hahaha! Thank you so much, Marie! Your words mean a lot to me. And never feel guilty for not writing. That usually means you’re doing the living you have to do in order to have something to write about.

  2. I yearn to be a full time writer and am envious of my friends who are. This was so timely for me. I have to hustle to pay the bills with a full time job, but writing is my love……so I hang in! Thanks for encouragement! xo Michele

    1. I totally feel you, Michele! It can be so hard to see others quit their jobs and write full time. But if you keep it as a goal and work toward it, I know it will happen for you!

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