Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Should You Quit Your Day Job? by Marie Wells Coutu

When I first got serious about writing fiction, I had a full-time job, so my writing time was limited to evenings and, sometimes, my lunch breaks. It didn’t take long before I started to dream about leaving my job to write full-time. It would be more than five years before I would get to the point where I could retire.

And then reality hit. Not working full-time didn’t necessarily mean I could write full-time. Family, travel, and friends frequently dragged me away from writing. Or rather, I allowed myself to be distracted.

I realized that being a full-time writer isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Marie Wells Cout

I’m fortunate that I don’t have to rely on making an income from writing. Because I reached retirement age, and my husband was already retired, together we have adequate income. My husband retired from the military, so health insurance would not be an issue.

Besides financial considerations, though, there are other factors to think about before you take the leap:

  • Are you a self-starter? What kind of writing schedule will you establish?
  • Is your work “just a job” or is it part of your identity?
  • Will you miss the camaraderie of co-workers, the “water cooler” discussions, and the emotional vibe of working closely with others?
  • Will your family, friends, or neighbors assume that you are “not busy” because you work from home? How successful are you at deflecting such interruptions?
  • Where does God want you? Are you seeking His will for your career or attempting to strike out on your own?
Obviously, these are only some of the questions you might ask yourself while you’re daydreaming about becoming a full-time writer.

Most importantly, before you make any final decision, think through the possibilities. Talk over the decision with your family and others close to you. Tell them your expectations for your work schedule, and ask what the decision means to them.

Only you can make the decision, with the help of your spouse or a close friend. Just be sure you’ve examined all the angles.

I’ve never regretted retiring when I did, but I sometimes wish I had known what to expect.

If you’re considering cutting the ties, what concerns do you have? For those who already write full-time, what advice can you offer to others?

The Secret Heart
by Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu retired in 2013 from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. She now spends her time writing fiction—when she’s not busy having fun with her husband or with their four grandchildren. She has written three novels for Write Integrity Press, including the award-winning For Such a Moment and Thirsting for More. Her most recent book, The Secret Heart, released in February. She is working on a historical novel set in western Kentucky, near where she grew up.

Marie is a regular contributor to Seriously Write. For more posts by Marie, click here.


  1. You've covered a lot of great points, Marie! As a freelance editor and writer working out of my home, I have a lot of flexibility. But that same blessing makes it difficult sometimes to get things done because people forget that I'm still "working." And it's hard for me to say no to requests from family and friends who want/need my time. It takes a great deal of discipline to work from home, regardless of the job. My husband has often said he'd never be able to do it.

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Dawn. Most of us have no idea until we actually try it, but it can be done, right?


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