Would I Ever Become a Full-Time Writer?

On Joe Konrath's blog, Newbie's Guide to Publishing, someone mentioned as a comment a story about Kafka that really hit home with me.  Reportedly, Kafka (not really successful until after his death) used to work at a factory for his main source of income.  He would frequently complain to his friends that he never had enough time to write.  So he eventually cut back on his hours to, in theory, have more time to write.  He ended up just wandering around town with all his free time and ended up writing less.  So he went back to full time at the factory.

I'm sorry if I got the finer points of the story wrong but you get the gist.  Point being that in being busy, you find yourself making the time to do the things you enjoy.   As I said, this really hit home for me due to something I've already been mulling about.

I don't think I would want to become a full-time writer.  Ever.  Even if I somehow got lucky and was making more than enough to sustain myself, I don't think I would ever switch careers.  At the most, it would just be extra retirement money or something.

My reasons?  Aside from thoroughly enjoying my current job of privately teaching violin, being forced to write would suck all the fun out of it for me.  I would have to come up with new stories all the time rather that just waiting for one to pop into my head.

More importantly, I really don't like how unpredictable writing is.  Sure, you have artistic control over your work as an independent author.  But sales-wise it's still a shot in the dark.  Essentially, you are banking on the fact that Amazon will be around forever.  Not that I see it tanking any time soon.  But you get the idea.  Push comes to shove, your ability to make it as an author is out of your hands whether you choose the independent or traditional route.

Of course, there are preventative measures one may take.  Publishing across multiple platforms will help ensure consistency.  But I still don't like how my writing income is "third party."  Amazon's messing around with tags and key words will affect my profits.  At least with my violin students it's very cut and dry: I can teach the violin.  If the student likes me as a teacher they stick around.

Just things I think about sometimes.  Perhaps I need to drink more red wine.


  1. I wouldn't ever want to be a FULL-time writer, though I would love to cut my hours back at my "day job."

    But this story made me think. There's a distinct possibility that I would end up like Kafka, with more time to write but less actual writing getting done.

    Shana Hammaker

  2. If I'm brutally honest with myself, I *know* I would end up like Kafka.

    And, yeah, that's exactly what I would like to happen as well. Make things just comfortable enough so I don't have to take on quite so many students.

  3. Work seriously got in the way of my first story and it took twelve years to complete. Now I'm retired on a pension, so I'm like Kafka with no job at all!

    Sometimes it's hard to get down to writing or editing but other times it's hard to stop. I generally go with the flow.

  4. Did you find that when you were working you were more motivated when you finally sat down to write? Or was it about that same?


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