A lot of writers dream of writing full-time. Some writers, of course, dream of other things, like getting paid to taste-test hamburgers, or whiskey. But an awful lot of us dream about being able to walk away from the Day Job and earn a living with nothing but our rapier wit and understanding of pathetic fallacy.

Usually, this dream involves our fiction, and usually it is in the form of a hell of a lot of book sales. Sometimes life throws you a curve and your dream of making a living writing comes true in the bizarro way: You launch a freelance writing career in parallel with your fiction endeavors. On the plus side, you are, technically, writing for a living. On the negative side, some of your writing energy and brain power will be dumped into freelance instead of awesome books. On the plus side, you were going to put that brain energy into a Day Job anyway.

On the negative side, writing all the time can sometimes get a little draining.

Finding Balance

Now, if your goal is to write for a living, this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something to keep in mind. And if you’re writing to pay the bills, your number one priority is going to be getting enough work to pay those bills. And it’s not like there’s a finite number of words you’ll get to write before death takes you in its icy grip.

So how do you attain balance between writing-for-the-filthy-lucre and writing for your passion? You don’t.

Balance is a bad word here, and writers should be ashamed of using it. Balance implies that an equitable share is desirable, that an even split in your time and energies is the ideal. This is, as scientists say, bullshit. What you want is coordination between your work-writing and your fiction. And, frankly, you should be looking to dial down the time you spend on freelance or other paid writing as much as possible while making enough money to survive. This is accomplished through a very simple maneuver known as raising your rates. The goal should be getting paid $100,000 per word so you can write one tweet and retire.

Stop trying to balance things, and start pressing your thumb on the scale in favor of your fiction.

2 thoughts on “The Work-Work Balance: Freelancing and Fiction

  1. What you’re saying then, sensei, is that instead of having the Day Job pay for the fiction writing, our goal is for the freelance writing to pay for the fiction writing. At least until the fiction writing can pay for itself. Which may be never. But at least we’re writing. Sounds like a plan. So, how does one become a freelancer without being scammed? How does one, as they say, “break in”? Wait! I think I know the answer to this: “Buy my book, padawan!” Oh, you’re gooood! 😉


    1. Buy my book indeed, but then the point of the book is that you don’t need idiots like me to figure this stuff out (no, really). Breaking into freelance isn’t a mystery: Start at the bottom making a penny a word, build up a resume and samples, apply for better-paying jobs, quit the shit jobs when you get them, repeat. It’s slow, you’ll wind up eating a lot of Ramen as you make your way through the bowels of content mills, but it can be done.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s