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Leaving Corporate America to Pursue a Writing Career

By Edited Jul 6, 2015 1 1

To Quit or Not to Quit

What to Expect

There are several things you can expect when you make the last coherent decision of your life—the decision to ditch your fairly-decent-paying corporate gig for a non-existent gig that pays absolutely nothing and offers you absolutely nothing in return.  I know, I know…I’m already making the benefits package sound amazingly impossible to turn down, right?

Quitting your corporate gig is an amazingly BRAVE and INSANE thing to do, and before you do it, there are some things to consider.  You should know what to expect before you make this life-changing decision.

The most obvious thing to remember is this:  You will no longer have a JOB.  It may seem ridiculous that I have to remind you of this particular detail, but there were days when it did come as a surprise to me, so I thought it would be nice to put it out there.  While tempted to continue with my non-starving-writer ways of attending sales at the mall and wandering aimlessly through my favorite shopping venues, I very quickly found it necessary to CURB THAT HABIT.  To put it simply, bill collectors like to be paid, and they do not understand it when you tell them that you are in the midst of creating the greatest protagonist our age has ever seen…and that’s why you can’t pay them.  (It’s a great line though…you should try it!)

The next thing you will need to know about leaving corporate is that just because you suddenly become a full-time writer does not mean that you will suddenly become a full-time PUBLISHED writer.  This still takes an amazing amount of pounding the keyboard.  You will need to put yourself out there, and you will need to look for gigs to support your writing lifestyle DURING the process of creating your very own fabulous word concoction.

Here’s another strange thing to consider.  Your friends and acquaintances still have jobs, so when you are bored or need a break or when you are absolutely mired in a plot conundrum, you will not be able to call them at 2:00 in the afternoon to meet for coffee at your local watering hole because they are WORKING.

You will be tempted to do ANYTHING but write.  I am as serious as the Ebola virus here, people.  You will suddenly see grout in your shower that needs to be bleached.  You will decide that your flowerbed has unsightly weeds that need to be extricated IMMEDIATELY, lest you be the butt of all the neighborhood jokes.  You will voluntarily seek out dust bunnies that hide under your bed and in the most remote corners of your guest bedroom closet.  And you will do all of this to avoid trudging through the next paragraph!

You will decline to wear in-public clothing.  Pajama bottoms and 10-year-old paint-splattered t-shirts will become couture, and let’s not even talk about your hair.  You will need to spend the last remnants of your 401k savings on a healthy supply of ponytail holders and plastic clips.  Let’s face it—your hair will never see a blow dryer or a stylist again.

But you know what?  All of that is a small price to pay for doing what you love.  And if writing is what you love, then you should go for it!  Some days I miss Corporate, but then I look around the little office in my house and I see all the books I’ve collected, all the people I love, and all the things I’m working on…and I know I made the right move.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Amazon Price: $15.95 $7.82 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 6, 2015)


Jun 16, 2013 2:38pm
I remember needing to read that book in school. I think it's good when people go for their dreams instead excepting things the way they are because it's more convenient.
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