More Salary or More Writing Time?

Or How My Choice of Job Can be Affected by my Writing Ambitions

My six month contract as Head of Communications is up and I need to pack my belongings in a knotted hanky, hang it on the end of a stick and head back out to where the streets are paved with gold to find another job.

I am fortunate that hard work and enjoying my job has given me an impressive CV and therefore some choices. I have a career and a not too shabby one either. But if you have been reading any of my previous blogs you will know that what I really want to do is earn my money writing books. And that is a monumentally difficult task to achieve I am told wherever I ask. There is no careers advice, no qualifications to take, no internships, no mentors to guide you. You just have to hope you are good enough and hope that you get some luck. Invest time and resource writing a book and slog it round to agents hoping someone might like it. Not a sound bet when you put it like that. A friend of mine worked in PR like me but wanted to be a GP. So after plenty of soul searching and financial calculations, she gave up work and went back to university to spend four years studying. Whilst this was a massive commitment, she knew that if she passed her exams, a job in a doctor’s surgery would be waiting with her name on a placard in reception at the end. Guaranteed. It was a commitment, not a risk. No such guarantees in writing sadly.

As you know if you are a follower of my blog, I am a single mother of two daughters. Whilst I get on well with their father, my wage is the only one keeping us afloat. I want it to be as big as I can get: if I am going to have to schlep into London every day, leaving at 7.30 and not getting home until 6.30, paying someone else to look after my girls after school, then damn right I want to negotiate every flipping penny. I want a top wage, a bonus too if there is one going and all the goodies and benefits I can lay my sweaty hands on. But then my current employer dangled a four day week in front of me. Now that is not playing fair.

In my line of work four day weeks, job shares, working part time are rare and not something that can be considered at a senior level so this offer nudged me off course for a while. Only working four days. One day a week free. Girls at school, house quiet. I could write. For six hours a day. Uninterrupted. Completing my second book whilst my first is doing the rounds is now a real possibility.

My salary would be pro rata of course so there would be a financial consequence but ….. But.

I could live comfortably on the reduced wage, there would be camping holidays rather than fancy all inclusives in some sunny spot. Maybe eating out less but I wouldn’t be going back to the days where I had to make a pound of sausages last for two meals or lurk around in Tesco before closing time to grab some knocked down bargains.

So it comes down to how much do I believe? I don’t have a guaranteed place on the author best seller list if I finish another book. I am told the chances of it even getting read by an agent let alone published are slim to none. I have already made a significant investment in writing the first one by taking four months off work so is it worth investing still more in another? Or is it throwing good money after bad? How do I know?

This is my dilemma. Do I march onwards with the career, reaping the financial rewards, or do I jump off the writer cliff and hope the net will appear?

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8 thoughts on “More Salary or More Writing Time?

  1. As someone who recently left 18 yrs of fulltime employment and has decided to pursue a writing route I relate totally to your dilemma. I know the path is fraught with trip hazards and at some point I’m going to need to replace my income but for the next few months I want to do the best I can to `release the beast` within… I decided I didn’t want to look back and regret not trying! We’ve also had the conversations about holiday location changes and less indulgent eating out etc… but there’s a burning desire to write that I can’t ignore any more… Good luck with your decision making x

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  2. It’s always tough making such life decisions. If I were you (and this is just my gut on what you’ve written here) I’d do the 4 days regardless, because the creative pursuit of writing is fun whether you end up making money from writing novels or not. Though of course it would be nice to be able to do so! As you say there’s little guarantee of success writing, but if you are ever to make a success of it in the end the words need writing first. And 6 hours a day when you have 2 girls to bring up alone is like gold dust. More valuable than any extra income if writing is what you truly enjoy. πŸ™‚ Good luck with whatever you decide! Whatever you do will be the right decision πŸ™‚

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  3. Sounds like a golden opportunity to me! I negotiated a similar work situation when I was younger – I offered to work 4 ten-hour days a week instead of 5 eight-hour days, so that I had one day off to write. They went for it, I finished a spec script (I’m a screenwriter) that got me into school and into my first TV job. Also, Joanne said some very wise words above, and all I an add to that is, “Agreed!”

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  4. I’d definitely take the 4 day offer. I think the rewards to be had from it will far outweigh any lifestyle sacrifices (and things like camping holidays are just as much fun). It’s a quality of life thing – imagine having that Friday feeling on Thursdays! Over the course of my life I’ve had times with plenty of money and times with hardly any, and the times with more money were not necessarily any happier. The advice you’ve been given about agents is right; even if you’re a terrific writer you might not have written what is saleable at the moment, according to the publishers. You could find an agent but still not get published – I know someone that happened to. She thought she’d made it when she got taken on by a big agent, and even got as far as being taken out to dinner by her prospective publishers, but then the sales and marketing team decided at the last minute that, as a new writer, she didn’t merit the expenditure. Ouch! I have a whole bunch of stories like this, sadly. However!! This is about what you want to do, for YOU. You might be one of the lucky few, who knows? But you’ll never find out if you don’t have the time to pursue what you want to do. Better to cut a few corners luxury wise than get to 60 and think, I wish I’d done it. πŸ™‚

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