Build a Writing Business, Even if You Already Work Full Time

Build a Writing Business, Even if You Already Work Full Time

So you want to be a professional writer. What’s stopping you?

Oh, you already have a full-time job. And, as it happens, a life. Writing is something you squeeze in whenever you can.

Don’t worry, you’re in good company — most of us are in the same boat. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take your writing to the next level. In fact, being a “professional” has nothing to do how you fit your writing in. It’s about attitude, quality and industry knowledge. And sure, it’s a little bit about the money.

So want to stop letting your full-time career hold you back from being a professional writer? Here’s what you’ll need to focus on:


It’s easy to put off writing until inspiration moves you — it may even seem like the practical choice when your life is full of other, more pressing demands. But don’t let yourself be ruled by the muse’s whims.

Professionals show up even when it’s hard. They get the job done without excuses. So carve out time in your regular schedule (daily is best, but at least weekly) that is dedicated to writing, and stick to it.


Professionals, of course, produce quality work. The first step to writing well is writing a lot, which we’ve just covered. The second step is to read a lot — and read good writing, writing in your genre for your target audience. Read the authors you admire and want to emulate.

While both steps are important, it’s the third that’s crucial. To truly do your best writing, you need feedback. Participate in workshops, enroll in courses, join a critique group. It’s hard to share your work and face criticism, but once you learn to listen to it, your writing will improve tenfold.


Professionals also keep up with industry news and trends. There are some exciting shifts going on in publishing right now as digital and self-publishing affect reader habits. Make sure you keep up by joining , following magazines and blogs, and attending conferences.

The more you know, the better prepared you are to make informed choices about how you share your work with the world. A great place to get started is The Write Life’s 100 Best Websites for Writers.


Especially when you already work full time and have a steady paycheck, it’s best to start by focusing on writing well and creating something you enjoy. Novels take a darn long time to write — three years of manuscript development has yet to earn me a cent, and considering my book as a money-making venture would only stress me out.

That said, making money is part of being a professional. So as you hone your craft, start putting your work out there. To start, it may benefit you to reach out to smaller unpaid publications, but as your work and confidence grows, don’t be afraid to set your sights high.

And remember that the digital age has opened up myriad new options to help you get your work to eager readers. Go ahead, get creative!

How do you fit writing around a full-time job?

Filed Under: Craft, Freelancing

Featured resource

In this eguide, Alexis Grant explains how she turned her side business into a full income, with an emphasis on making money from ebooks.


  • Joseph todd says:

    Mahalo for the inspiration! K

  • When I wrote part-time, I was able to fit writing around my job by using my daily commute to write.

    It could get little awkward at times – especially on a very packed commute – but it was a great way to find an extra hour a day to write.

  • Nice one Emily….its a gud one

  • Emily Excellent Work!

    I really liked how you emphasized the point that professional people get things done. It reminds me of the Network Marketing book entitled, “Go Pro”, can’t recall who wrote it right now, but he writes on the importance of being a professional (in that type of industry), but what he writes about applies to just about any business venture.

    I believe that true writing professionals are excuse killers. In other words, professional writers don’t make excuses, they get things done, despite the obstacles that may come around.

    I would add to what Katherine said, buy saying that we writers need to understand that writing is not necessarily all about the pen and paper or the computer, but that writing is all about the words used. So, with that said, if you are driving down the road, I suggest having a tape recorder or MP3 recorder handy when inspiration hits, because writers can begin to share their thoughts on these devices and then at a later time put those words (thoughts) to paper. Speaking into a recorder is just the same as writing words on a paper.

    Anyhoo, excellent post!


    William Ballard
    Freelance Writer and Author

  • I assign random word counts for each day, and I have to make that word count. It’s adjustable, so if I know I’m going to be burned out on Wednesday or Thursday from the job, I can have a 500 word day and have 3,100 on Saturday. I find this seems to be working better than setting a standard time because then I jump on it to get done rather than wait until the time and then not be as productive.

  • Sarah Lentz says:

    Thank you, Emily, for this helpful post and for the links within it. I’m starting to get serious about being a freelance writer and proofreader, and your article caught my eye not because I already have a paid full-time job but because I’m a full-time mom. I’m still trying to get a feel for whether I can do this and still homeschool. I hope so.
    I’m inclined to say “Sure it is!” but I want to learn all I can on how to make a decent income doing so.

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