Any Fulltime Writers?

So any Dopers here make a living off of writing full time? Just out of curiosity to hear stories about getting where they are. Being out of school I’m looking around trying to decide if the path I’m on is the right one. Writing is something that appeals to me but I don’t know if I could do it full time or not.

I’ve read other’s writings about it but I don’t know any full time writers to actually ask about it and talk about their experiences. So any Dopers got first hand experience to share with me?

Well, I’m not sure if this is what you mean but I used to be. I was a writer (my actual title was “Content Editor”) with the Editorial Team of a Marketing Department of a major national book retailer. I wrote email newsletters, in-store magazines, and online content. I even wrote those little recommendation blurbs you see on store shelves, and every now and then contributed to national advertising campaigns.

In the beginning it was quite an awesome job. We had some degree of creative control and could pursue our own esoteric projects (even though the majority of projects were assigned). Our email newsletters won awards. We thought of ourselves (and our work) as part of branding (creating a brand idenity for the chain) rather than salespeople, and we had fun with it.

Later, creative control was handed over to markety mucketymucks, and workloads increased to the point where pursuing our own projects was no longer possible (even though it was theoretically still allowed). Everything became much more bottom-line driven and we got flak if certain bestsellers weren’t flogged. At the same time staff was reduced. Each day consisted of sitting down at my computer and pounding out the prose absolutely as fast as possible for 8 straight hours. I told my manager my writing was suffering. He told me to “care less.” Burnout and departure of the best writers in the group soon followed. Morale plummeted. I hung on until I had written myself into chronic tendonitis in both arms. When I had a panic attack about going into work, I quit that same week. I had been with the company 7 years, 6 of them with the same team.

Then I took a 2 year break (working on a horse farm) and now I’m applying to law school. My condition prevents me from ever writing at that velocity and volume ever again. Thank god.

What sort of full time writing are you looking at doing? Novels? Magazine writing? Freelance stuff? It’s not too hard to make a living as a writer, if you want to write for one company like Hello Again did. If you want to freelance, it’s harder because you have to sell yourself to prospects a lot. Making a living as a novelist is even more difficult. You’ll probably have to have another job in the meantime, unless you have some way to live without earning an income. I’m editing my 6th book at the moment (ok, I’m procrastinating, but in theory that’s what I’m doing). Only one has seen print, and it will make me very little money.

Well while I have a job right now I find myself drawn to the idea of writing for like Wired magazine or such. I’ve also got a novel idea percolating right now. I have no illusions about being the next Tom Clancy or anything, I just know what whenever I ask people what I should do - they all tell me to do what I love and I know I enjoy writing.

Ooo! Ooo! I am! Here’s what I wrote today:

((heavy oil or heavy crude or Syncrude or Suncor or SAGD or oilsand$ or oil sand$ or “in situ” or bitumen) and (in=i13 or ns=cnatrd) or (heavy oil and (Syncrude or Suncor or discover$ or exploration or project$ or (upgrad$ near5 production)))) not (ns=(nobt or gspo or ncal or mcat) or (conference call and wc>2000) or calgary 55 or alberta 55 or diamond or kimberlit$ or (rst=(GLOB or ROBFP or ROBFS) and hd=(financial profile or financial snapshot)) or de=tpx or hd=(index or summary or diary or arbitrage or or (sc=(cnsw or bnw or ff or cm or aprs or dj or aer or dj or djan or djon or dji or mtpw or lba or dayb or freg or cnnw or cndl or ccnws) or sn=bbc monitoring))

But I’m thinking that may not be the type of writing you’re talking about…

That reminds me. I did write a status report today and got paid for it. Yesterday I wrote up a proposal for the automation of manual processes within our group and got paid for that, too.

Sadly, what happened to you is what’s happening in newspaper journalism, as well. The workload increases, staff decreases, and managers don’t seem to care about the quality of work as much as the bottom line.

It makes me sad.

I wrote this today:

<para>Select Solutions</para><list type=“bulleted”>
<para>In the <uiTerm>Solution Type:</uiTerm> drop down, select <uiTerm>Distribution Server Instance</uiTerm>.</para>
<para>Click <uiTerm>Solutions</uiTerm>. (Located at the bottom right of the <uiTerm>Add Web Application</uiTerm> window.)</para>
<para>The <uiTerm>Select Solutions</uiTerm> window appears.</para>
<graphic magnification="" margin=“page” source=“rich_client_instance/solutions.gif”></graphic>
<para>Select <uiTerm>1) Over-the-Web Installer</uiTerm> and <uiTerm>2) Rich Client 2–Tier [1]</uiTerm>.</para>
<para>Click <uiTerm>OK</uiTerm>.</para>

It’s xml. Most the tags are put in automatically by the software I use. My title is Content Developer. I write manuals for classes that teach how to use my company’s software. It pays well, but it gets boring and frustrating.