Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What’s Wrong With the Day Job?

Writers seem to have this plan that after they sell their book they’ll be able to walk into the boss’ office, lay their resignation on the table and walk out. The fact is that few writers are able to do that. I’ve heard that among full-time authors, the average annual income is $31,000. You could live off that, if you had to, but I don’t think that’s what most writers have in mind as they dream of their future success. There are other things to consider as well. If you are self-employed, you have to pay your own benefits. If you want health insurance, you will have to pay for it. Your retirement plan may also take a hit. Even if all your company does is match half your contributions to a 401k, quitting your day job and taking a pay cut will hurt your plans for retirement.

I hear people complain about their day jobs a lot. It is part of our culture, but the fact is that most people like what they do. They may not enjoy it all the time, but there’s something they like about it or they would have given up in desperation. The problem with writers is that they think the grass must be greener on the other side of the fence. They see the writer’s life as blue skies and green grass. The birds are always singing and the writer is in complete control. Every job done well has stress associated with it. So really, what’s wrong with the day job? What could be so wrong with keeping the day job and writing as a hobby? It may not fit our dream of a life of ease, but realistically, it seems like the better plan.