1. Reximus
    Offline

    Reximus Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0

    Suggestions: Don't quit your day job

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Reximus, Jun 8, 2010.

    I know this forum is for publishers but this is the only forum that relates to my question.

    This is a request for suggestions at a job that relates to writing. Let me explain:

    I'm 17 and still in high school but always look at the big picture. In this case its my future career. I want to become a published fantasy novelist if I can and am working on a novel right now but like the saying, "Don't quit your day job." I need money in the mean time.

    However as far as a job I want something that's right for me and suits my taste in writing.

    I was planning legal transcriptioning because of a special skill I have that makes good money. My life has been the computer and have developed quite a typing speed. Its usually 100-139 wpm so I would make the most money typing and being paid for the amount of work, not per hour.

    However I want a job that isn't boring. Maybe even a job that can help me be a better writer. Something where I get to use my imagination and inventiveness.

    So what I'm asking for is suggestions for a job that fits these requirements:

    Paid for amount of work (not per hour.)
    Similar or the same as writing fantasy.
    Get to create work that stems from my creativity.
    And finally, work from home.

    I appreciate all advice.

    Thank you. :-D

    PS: Sorry if the grammar is bad, I'm working on improving mine.
     
  2. profexorgeek
    Offline

    profexorgeek Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    cyberspace
    So wait...you want a dream job right out of high school? Get in line ;)

    In all seriousness though, the fact that you can type 100+ wpm is a giant asset but you have to be able to prove it and you have to be able to type that fast accurately. I can type about 80wpm but if you go adding a bunch of symbols and punctuation and adjusting for mistakes it drops to about 60.

    When I was young, my mom worked as a medical transcriptionist. She listened to doctor-dictated notes and typed them out. Before that she worked as a police transcriptionist, doing the same thing. Both seemed interesting and good inspiration for dynamic characters but it's not writing, it's transcribing. She did not have the privilege of working from home but I think she was paid by the job. Voice recognition technology is getting good enough that I think these jobs will get hard to come by.

    I work for a major retailer and we have a copywriting department that writes product descriptions for our catalogs. I actually started in that department and it was enjoyable for a while. But creative writing was less important than fast, technical and grammatically correct writing. It was a salaried, onsite job.

    To put it bluntly, there is no way I'd hire a 17 year old to work from home doing anything. I have a 30-40y.o. remote employee and it's hard enough to make sure he has stuff to do. No offense but your peers (myself included at 17) don't exactly set the bar on reliability :)

    There are a lot of ways to make money typing/writing but a lot fewer ways to make it at home. Don't stop trying to find the perfect writing job but also be realistic about what's out there.
     
  3. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,349
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    There are freelance writing jobs you can take on. The pay varies from job to job, and the pay is higher once you become more experienced. There are various online sites that can help you start (use google). Since you like fantasy, freelancing for you might include short stories, fantasy book reviews, articles about fantasy video games, etc.
     
  4. profexorgeek
    Offline

    profexorgeek Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    cyberspace
    Thirdwind makes a good point about freelancing. There are tons of sites out there that offer freelancing, often paid by the job. Many of them offer work in a variety of areas so the more things you're good at, the easier it is to stay busy.

    The reason I didn't mention freelance is because there are some pretty big caveats:
    - work is unpredictable...feast or famine.
    - no health/401k/etc benefits (which may not matter to you right now)
    - you have to have the discipline to budget for and pay income taxes
    - it's easy to get burned (i.e. client just doesn't pay up). Most websites help mitigate this with feedback systems but those work both ways.

    There is lots of money to be made in freelance but you have to be really driven. I haven't done freelance writing but I do a lot of freelance programming. It can be very good money.

    Sorry if I come across as a bit of a pessimist. It's because I'm a bit of a pessimist :D
     
  5. izanobu
    Offline

    izanobu Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't know if you're planning on or able to go to college, so my advice is for if you aren't.

    Don't take a job that uses your creative brains. One, you'll have more mental energy for when you get off work and start your second job, which will be the writing of novels and short stories. Two, having a boring crap job will be highly motivating for you to put your butt in the chair and get the writing done (and motivating to get better at it).

    My advice is to get a job that pays the bills, gives you health insurance, and lets you have enough time and energy to devote at least a couple hours a day to writing fiction. There's plenty of money to be made as a professional writer, but in order to build up the skills and knowledge to go full time at it, you have to put in the hours and hours of practice. Work on your craft, get your work under submission to magazines and publishers, and keep going. Let the day job be your safety net while you build your writing business. (Doing reviews, if you like reviewing, can be good too, for a small stream of income on the side. There are lots of good resources for building a website and monetizing it with advertising and/or donation buttons.)
    Anyway, good luck! You're young, you've got lots of years to develop your craft :)
     
  6. Montag
    Offline

    Montag Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    بيرث
    I quit my job so that I could focus on writing. In fact, I was there at work doing the nine til five (actually six til five) and thinking "Gee, this is really stifling my creativity, I'm sure if I quit my job I'll easily have a novel finished in six months!"

    A year later, I'd done perhaps a few extra sentences. Was definitely the biggest mistake of my life, and I'm still trying to get back to the financial level I was at when I left. It was a good job too. I worked as a welder, and all my day was spent on the machine, zipping up and down bits of steel. Ironically, it's the kind of thing I'd suggest if you need some peace and quiet to think, since I'd have earplugs in blocking out all ambient noises, gloves, long leather coat, and a big black enclosed mask with filtered air blown in. It was very dark inside the mask, and it was just me, the sharp purple glow and the muffled crackling of the electric ark. Once I knew what the task was, I just had to repeat it thousands of times a day, so I could really go on autopilot while I'd drift off and daydream. Plenty of times, I worked right through my lunchbreak, or well after my knock-off time without even noticing. My boss loved me.
     
  7. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,528
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    Beyond what others have said,

    Financial stability is important for a writer trying to break into the big leagues. Worrying about rent and transportation and even feeding the kids will drain energy that would otherwise be used on creative endeavors.

    Terry
     
  8. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,199
    Likes Received:
    4,209
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    My advice would be to get through college if you're planning to. That way, you have a lot more job opportunities avaliable. Then you can get your dream job.

    I plan on be a librarian and (maybe) a published writer. However, I don't plan on qutting my job because (a) I might like it, and (b) if anything, I'll still be getting money from my job if my books don't do as well as I had thought.
     
  9. OscarW
    Offline

    OscarW Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    3
    There has been some great advice given regarding your questions/ comments, but something else very important which no one has touched on yet. You're 17, and while I'm sure you feel like you've seen a lot of the world or have experienced a lot, simply put, you haven't. I don't intend this to be mean, but one's life experiences are essential to their writing whether it be plot creation, character development or even dialogue. Even though the genre you prefer is fantasy, your stories may come off as tired and boring, while your descriptions are cliched and your dialogue stilted. Like some others suggested I think it is best for you to find another job outside of writing and have writing as your second job in which your creativity and imagination can run wild. Don't forget though that writing is truly a second job if you want to become one. You need to actively read, critque other writings, have your writings critque by non-family/ friend individuals and keep on writing despite your schedule, interest or energy level.

    On another note, the job you have described is a fantasy job. Few people work at home. Also, as much as employers may say they want your creativity they often don't and when they do it is still under restrictions and time limits. Finally, at 17 you're a major risk to any employer, because of your lack of experience and the unrelability of your age group. Try finding this job, but don't be too disappointed if you need to change your plans and don't change them too late when you're completely broke. Good luck.
     
  10. DozerZigashi
    Offline

    DozerZigashi New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Dakota (unfortunately)
    I have a similar predicament, but have had some wonderful advice for planning the future. It is a simple success formula really. And I'm going to quote my english teacher on this one.
    "Go to college, maybe study abroad, get a job, work like a dog, and write in the meantime. After all, writing dosn't pay the bills, except for the extreamly lucky. But in those odds, you are more likely to win the lottery, or get struck by lightning. Your choice."
     
  11. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,199
    Likes Received:
    4,209
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    I agree with Oscar. You're SEVENTEEN! Your life is just beginning. When I first got bitten by the "Writing Bug" back when I was fourteen, my perception of the world was VASTLY different from how I am now at the age of twenty-one.
     
  12. HeinleinFan
    Offline

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    33
    Mixed bag of advice:

    If you can, go for a job that doesn't use the same creative area as your fantasy writing. Waiting tables, transcribing data, working in a store -- something so that when you come back home and open up a new word document, your brain doesn't growl at you and say "No, this is too much like work! Quit it!"

    Some writers recommend that aspiring writers seriously consider the careers that they are interested in, that would make them happy. If writing is a second choice, go with your first ... because writing is difficult, for various reasons, and for the first five years it can't be relied upon to pay the bills.

    If "I want to be read! I want to write fantasy, either novels or short stories or both, and I want to get good at it and keep improving, and be paid for my work" is your first priority, then there are a lot of resources out there for you. Start with the Freelancer Survival Guide by Kristine Katheryn Rusch, available for free online (google it, or go to kriswrites dot com and click on the guide). Also, Dean Wesley Smith's website has a series called "Sacred Cows: Killing the Myths of Writing" or some similar title, and one of my favorite entries talks about the myth of "only 300 writers" making a living in the U.S.

    Look at it this way. To get onto a bestseller list, a book has to sell many tens of thousands of copies. There are more than a thousand bestsellers (in the United States) a year -- not just the ones from Publishers Weekly, but the New York Times lists and others. So there are easily 300 writers a year who are on the bestseller list alone, meaning they're making a decent year's wages (at minimum) on that one book. Then there are the midlist writers -- the ones who have been published many times, and who make enough through royalties that even though they have never made the bestseller lists, they make $60,000 or more a year (sometimes much more).

    If you do all that (not sure whether college is in your plans or not), then when you do transition to writing full time, in a decade or in five years or in twenty, you'll have a decent idea of the risks, and you'll have some savings for the lean First Five Years of freelance writing, plus some life experience to back your writing up.

    . . . Yeah. In other words, know your goals. Know what you're getting into. If you make the jump to freelance writing as your main income source, know the risks ahead of time and have a schedule that you will keep, so you don't waste your time and actually produce. (I've heard claims that it takes six months or more for us to adapt to a schedule-free situation and become productive, and as Montag can attest, this is not useful and will eat up savings big time.)

    But if you do leap, you'd also know that there are ways to manage your money and time and resources to keep yourself in reasonably good stead, and you'll know that despite the myth, there is indeed a far better chance of making it as a writer than winning the lottery.
     

Share This Page