As more and more former salaried employees turn to freelancing, consulting and running their own micro-businesses, this applies even more, if your ultimate primary goal is to write fiction for a living.  -t.


Yesterday I deliberately omitted working from home in the discussion about moving your day job closer to home.

That’s because while moving your job into your home is absolutely as close as you can get, working from home presents a slew of problems for anchored authors that I wanted to deal with separately.

The hard-to-beat benefits of having a day job working out of your home.

  • No commuting time
  • No commuting costs
  • No office-wear expenses
  • You get to write off some expenses
  • No direct supervision
  • Usually, your time is very flexible, allowing you to squeeze in writing when it suits you.
  • You’re working on your own, so there’s few or no interruptions when you’re concentrating.
  • No tiresome socializing necessary
  • You’re judged almost purely on results only.

This list is enough to make most writers drool. Stay at home, get paid for it, and have all these benefits? It would make the anchored lifestyle more than tolerable.

But, of course, there’s a couple of major downsides.

Finding an at-home job that you can do with your current skills and expertise is a huge challenge.

The vast majority of day jobs actually need you to deal with other members of a team, and your physical presence. Genuine, dyed-in-the-wool day jobs based out of your home are hard to come by.

Most jobs based out of your home are really small businesses in disguise.

If the home-based job sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many of these “jobs” are profit-sharing schemes, or straight out self-employment. Being self-employed isn’t a bad thing. In fact, you and I and all published authors are self-employed; we’re running a small business already.

Which is exactly why you don’t want to get involved in a second business. The day job needs to be straight forward, with defined hours and duties, and sharply delineated boundaries within your life.

A small business doesn’t have boundaries, and doesn’t profit if you take time off to write. You’ll expend huge amounts of energy and skull sweat getting the business up off the ground and paying enough to cover your living expenses…and all this has to happen before you get to write word one of your manuscript.

The major concern about your day job being another business is the same concern you get when your day job is a creative sort (such as copywriting and journalism): You’re blowing all your creativity on the day job, and may have nothing left in reserve for your writing.

If the idea of a home-based day job still appeals, then one way to try and make it work would be to take a year or so off your writing, and spend that year establishing the home-based business and getting it stable enough before carving out time from your work day to devote to writing fiction.

Or you may well be lucky enough to find a real honest-to-goodness for-pay home-based job that doesn’t take over your life, and leaves you time to work the fiction career. If you do find one, grab it and run.

First appeared on Anchored Authors on July 25, 2008

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