A lot of people ask me how is it possible that I keep a full-time job, while being able to write on a regular basis. Why not write full time, they often ask.
A number of reasons. Bills, like student loans and car payments... oh, and rent. And also feeling pretty fulfilled career-wise with my full-time job. It's fun, keeps me energized, and boy, are there tons of situations in my day job that provide jump-off points for writing. It also keeps me working in the midst of social justice issues, ethnicity, class, gender... all that stuff.
But for me, it's mainly a financial thing. And that's a decision not to be taken lightly in my case. With only one book published, and with one currently in the publishing pipeline, my track record and royalties (which won't roll in for a few months, if warranted) aren't even close to matching what my full-time job provides. And not just financially.
We're talking benefits. And we're talking about the support that comes from people you work with, and the fulfillment that comes from being employed. My workplace is completely supportive and encouraging of my writing and book work. I get summers off... well, I have a reduced summer schedule and reduced obligations. I get to travel. I get plenty of down time. And, well... I won't go on. Let's just say that even if I didn't work full time, the most I can sit in front of a computer in one sitting is like two hours. That's not much of a full-time writing job schedule... even though I'm very productive in my two hour sitting.
The important thing: don't quit your day job until you've actually written and sold a manuscript; or written and self-published and the sales are supporting your day-to-day life; or have side gigs such as teaching, speaking, consulting, and facilitating that supplement what you'd earn while not working. Or you've saved tons of money and are disciplined to live a simple and frugal life. Or if you're lucky enough to have a trust fund you're about to inherit. Or you've talked it over with your higher power, family, significant other, and those you may call on for support or meals. The starving artist thing, while admirable and provides for great success stories down the road, isn't always what it's cracked up to be.
Still have questions? Check out what some other published authors have said in their own blogs and sites on the question of Writing and/or Working Full-Time:
Tayari Jones provides her insight on writing full time or writing while keeping a full-time job.
Holly Lisle shares some steps to consider when quitting the full-time gig for writing.
Donna Hill talks about her leap of faith into full-time writing... and this is after more than a dozen novels while working a full-time job.
Others... feel free to chime in...