one way

This was written eight years ago (from the day I am commenting).  According to her LinkedIn profile, Sasha Mansworth is now back to working a full-time corporate career in a writing-related profession.  Bear that in mind as you read.  –t.

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Sasha Mansworth, a British writer, cashed in her life’s savings and everything she own of any value, and quit her day job to write a children’s book full time, even though she had never published a children’s book in her life.

Brave?  Or stupid?

Although the concept may take your breath away with its sheer audacity, it’s actually a viable way of writing for a living, although there’s a few qualifications you need before you could actually consider doing it.

No dependents.

D’uh.  You would have all the necessary motivation to face Ramen Noodles for the seventh meal in a row, but it amounts to abuse by malnutrition if you feed your kids that sort of diet.

A high tolerance for risk.

This is absolutely not a game for the weak-kneed non-gambler.

An ability to forego the good things in life.

You’d have to give up that perfect apartment, the luxury car, the latest fashions, gym membership, even esoteric diets (for example, my raw vegan lifestyle would go through radical adjustment because organic vegetables and fruit are expensive).

Some sort of savings and/or quality goods you can sell off for living expenses.

Last year’s Mercedes, the big-screen TV, your Amani business suits, the house or apartment that you’ve been paying off for the last five years…even if you don’t have much of a cash stash, it’s possible that the stuff your cash has been busy acquiring can be sold off to build a pot that will hold you over.

No debts.

This should go without saying, but I’m saying it, because debt is so endemic in today’s western cultures, that it may not occur to you to get rid of your credit cards and creditors before you make this sort of leap.  You can’t afford to service debt and pay (ugh) interest while you’re living on a shoe string budget.

Embrace the frugal lifestyle.

This is related to (3) above.  Instead of stoically doing without the “good stuff” you can’t have right now, you instead focus on the positives of living lean, recycling and re-purposing.  It becomes a lifestyle choice, not a default state of deprivation.

This sort of lifestyle is something that other creatives have been adopting for decades: actors, poets, musicians and artists know a lot about living from job to job.

As a novelist, you can chose to do it that way, too.  If you have enough of a stash, then you may well be able to reach a point of earning enough from writing to just squeak by and not be forced to get a job when the stash runs out.

If it doesn’t happen, no big problem.  Just get another job for a while, and top up your stash to live for another six months or a year, and quit.  Use your full-time writing periods to really max out on the manuscripts – build up a number of finished books so that when (if) you have to go back to work again, you can continue to publish new books at the same rate as before.

It’s possible Sasha Mansworth, who inspired this post, has been forced to do the same thing – get a full time job to top up her stash before quitting to write full time again.  Her blog hasn’t been updated since July.

If you meet all the basic qualifications, then this bohemian lifestyle might be a viable choice for you.  If the idea really appeals to you, then you might be able to make enough adjustments in your life, to make it work.

Something to think about, anyway.

First appeared on Anchored Authors on July 09, 2008

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