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For aspiring writers, earning well enough while creating sufficient time for writing, is always a challenge. Kasturi Patra shares what has worked for her.
I had left my job three years back to write full time. I have been writing full time since then.
By writing full time, I don’t mean that I was only writing novels or stories; I also enrolled into an online MFA course, so I had coursework to cover. Besides this, I was taking small projects here and there, but I didn’t have a steady stream of income.
Initially, it was painful to let go of a substantial paycheck. There is nothing tangible to show for writing until you’re an established author. A stray publication here and there was the only tangible ‘achievement’ that I could show for that time.
My husband was supportive, and we are blessed with a house in Delhi where we live rent free. So, money wasn’t a big concern. However, we had to cut on other expenses like travelling, eating out, etc. I felt guilty because I knew how much D loved to travel.We did travel, but not as much as we might have if I was earning, too. I am not the kind of person who spends a lot on her makeup, clothes, etc. The only personal expense I had (besides, stuff for my period) was on books.
I had never thought about money in a specific way. I come from a lower middle class family and I was conditioned to believe that the only way out was studying well and getting a good job. That’s what I aimed for. And when I achieved that, I felt I’d done what was required of me.
But once I started working, I realized this was not it. I needed something else. Even after two master’s degrees, I completed an FRM certification hoping that might give me my ‘dream job’. But my dream job was elusive—not to be found in market research, consulting, financial analysis, and everything else that I tried. It convinced me that perhaps this is how life should be.
I still enjoyed weekends and looked forward to the vacations. But that hollowness that I felt was persistent. Sometimes, I’d break down in the middle of the day thinking about where my life was going. When I started writing, ‘love’ happened. I was finally doing something that I loved with all my heart. It was like falling in love for the first time and finally understanding what those films and novels were eulogising about!
Even though life was far more tolerable, I wished that there was some way in which I could earn part-time while writing on the side. But I found nothing suitable. Either it was too much work (to sustain a regular writing schedule), or too little money (to give up on my writing time). I’d not searched avidly, though.
Going by whatever others had to say, I knew writing and earning from freelancing was difficult, since clients paid very less, etc.
Then came the pandemic, and the Universe spoke to me. COVID-19 changed my views towards money. It was for the first time since we were together that I saw D worried about his job. And that made me sit up and take notice. I started applying more aggressively, even opting for full-time jobs in content mills.
It was at the same time that I came across books discussing the principles of the law of attraction. The more books I read (by Esther and Jerry Hicks, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Gabby Bernstein), the more I realized that my entire approach towards wealth has been skewed.
Given my underprivileged upbringing, I had assumed this scarcity mentality where I felt that money isn’t that easy to earn. I also believed that asking for money was greedy, it didn’t go hand in hand with spirituality.These books, and the subsequent meditation practices that I incorporated in my life, changed my views.
Their message was simple: if you’re not truly happy, how can you bring joy to others? I realized earning wealth had a lot more to do than your external conditions. Your attitude towards wealth is key here. (This applies to all areas of your life. If you want love, think that you’re worthy of love first, the books said.)
I realized that one of my competitive advantages was that I am excellent at research.
I started researching for jobs. Not only in India, but also abroad. Because earning in dollars would always translate to more rupees, right? That’s how I came across this website: https://www.patreon.com/writejobsplus/posts
At a subscription rate of just $3 a month, you get access to hundreds of writing jobs. Yes, it was frustrating at first to see that most employers were looking for US-based writers. However, if you look closely, there are opportunities for international writers, too! You just need to be persistent, polish up your CV, and keep applying. I cleared three rounds with a freelancing agency. However, it was after almost two months that I got my first project. I’d almost given up on the hope that they’d get back.
Since last October, I’d been working with a client where I write part time and get paid almost as much as I used to make in my full-time job!So, first, what you need is a change in the mindset.
Be under no illusion that this is easy (but, it’s fulfilling for sure)
I work on most weekends. With my MFA coursework, writing short stories for submissions, editing my manuscript for publication, and maintaining at least two to three hours of work for five days isn’t of course, easy. However, I’m enjoying every bit.First, because I love my client’s professionalism and the job isn’t too taxing, either. Second, because I never imagined that this could ever be possible. Last but certainly not the least, earning this amount makes me feel less anxious about the financial prospects of my writing.
I am no more frustrated with myself for not earning a six-figure book deal right at this very moment. When writing becomes fun, we create better.
1. Do not underestimate all the skills you’d gained in your job and in your education. Trust me, those are valuable.2. Polish up your CV, please keep it up to date and professional as per current standards.3. Be thoroughly professional with your work and the deadlines. If they are paying well, they also expect you to keep your side of the bargain.4. Don’t submit slipshod work. Ask for feedback to gauge how satisfied they are with your work.5. Go register at Write Jobs! It’s a treasure trove for writers—both freelancers and writers looking to submit their work to contests and magazines.6. Change your mindset about how much you can earn. It might sound airy fairy, but this has been my experience. The more you’re confident about wealth and how much you need, the more you’ll get.7. Do not, I repeat, do not settle for content mills (unless, that’s the last resort). You’ll work almost full time and have very little money to show for it. Why sacrifice your writing time for this?8. Read these books if possible:
· Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself,
· Super Attractor,
· Becoming Supernatural,
· The Universe Has Your Back,
· Ask And It Is Given,
· Money and the Law of Attraction.
9. Other sources for good writing jobs:
· Freedom with Writing,
· Authors Publish (this is a vast repository of literary magazines and contests),
· Freelance Writing Jobs.
What are your experiences with earning while writing? Do share them with us, if you so wish.Don’t hesitate to reach out here if you want more help with something I mentioned here.
First published at author’s blog
Top image via Lifestock/Canva Pro
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Kasturi’s debut novel, forthcoming in early 2021, had won the novel pitch competition by
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