Plan B’s

I grew up in a household that honored the importance of education. But of course, that also meant a “real” education. Something in which you could make a good living.

I caught the writing bug early on but having this type of credo in my family led me to put my writing dreams aside for several years during college and my early career days to pursue other avenues of building a solid financial foundation for myself.

I have eventually found my way back to writing but it was only after several years of mastering my software geek skills, which I must say has provided me with a really good living.

Sometimes I do wonder though what my life would be like if I had pursued the writing earlier. Where would I be? What would my life look like?

I already know first-hand how crazy the pursuit of being a published author can be. It’s not for the faint of heart and the return on the investment can unfortunately be very low. Sometimes it could be years before you see any profit for all the hard work.

It’s no secret that most writers have another source of income or a spouse that provides financial support. A “Plan B” to fall back on if things don’t quite work out as planned. Some say that you should do what you love and the money will follow. Others say you need to be practical and make a living while pursuing your passion. There is no right answer. Each writer is different and chooses the strategy best for her.

Honestly, I love eating and buying shoes too much not to have a Plan B. And even though my day job can be sort of ridiculous, if this writing thing doesn’t work out, I’m glad that I choose a “backup plan” that I can live with.

So writer friends, what about you? Do you have a Plan B if the writing doesn’t work out as planned? Or are you in this writing journey for however long takes?


  1. says

    I take that year to year. It’s a tough question. I have a teaching degree and would love to teach middle school language arts or reading. I’m trusting I”ll know when it’s time.

  2. says

    Oh man, what a good question. I suppose my answer is yes, I have a career to fall back on (and tons of student loans to show for it!), but I’m hoping I never actually have to do that.

  3. says

    I’ve followed a path similar to yours, Karen. My parents refused to let me be “just” an artist, and instead insisted on a Plan B life. So I went to college, got my teaching certification, and taught for years, never having enough time to write. So it was a big deal for me when I quit my job a year and a half ago to pursue the writing dream–though I may end up having to go back to work shortly! I think you’re absolutely right about how different people have to approach their writing journey in different ways. I just wish more people were encouraging kids to really try and fulfill their dreams realistically, whatever that means.

    Did you see this amazing post at The Contemps blog about the same issue?

  4. says

    Laura: I love this response but it having a Plan B can vary depending on the what’s going on in life at the time. And trusting your instincts to know if it’s time to roll it out.

    Meredith: You are/were a lawyer in your previous life right? Hopefully, the only thing you will be doing is using your background to read book contracts! :)

    Anne: Thanks so much for the link! :) I just read Sarah Ockler’s post. She’s talked about this before on her own blog.

    The thing with our parents is that I don’t think they do this to “squash” our dreams but rather try to keep our best interest at heart. I do believe; however, that getting the wrong type of Plan B can be detrimental to a creative person’s psyche. You should definitely pick something that speaks to your likes and interests. It can make the “day job” more bearable. At least that has been the case for me.

  5. says

    I definitely have a plan B, though I suppose it was originally my plan A. The writing thing came to me over the last year+half. My “career” came first, but I adore writing and truly hope/pray at some point the writing thing can be my career.

  6. says

    My parents were the opposite. My mom didn’t go after her dream (to become a fashion designer) when she was my age and instead settled into a “safe” career, one that she likes but doesn’t love. She’s always told me to go after my dream job, whatever it is, no matter how risky it is. I’m grateful for that!

    That said, I feel like it’s impossible to say you’re going to become a writer and automatically make a living of it. You have to have some sort of Plan B, even if it’s freelancing. I think it’s smart to have a day job you love in case writing full-time doesn’t work out. Luckily, I’m in that position now.

  7. says

    Saba: That great that you have two outlets that feed your soul. You are very lucky indeed! :)

    Melissa: I think if you’re truly passionate about something, it always finds a way in your life. Good luck to you.

    Ghenet: That’s great that your mother instilled in you the drive to go after what you love. But we still must be realistic. It seems like you have a plan that will take you where you want to go. Continued success with ROW80. :)

  8. says

    I dated a guy once who said that if I had a plan B then my plan A would not work. Of course, I went on to my plan B with men and now for my lifestyle have a plan A,B and C. ;o)

  9. says

    Heather: I think of it almost like a “second career.” It’s becoming more important as time goes on.

    Kristi: Ha, that’s too funny. I actually dated a guy who thought my writing was a “fun hobby.” Needless to say, he didn’t last long at all. :)

  10. says

    I’m a licensed teacher, but I never believed the classroom was where I’d stay. Right now, along with writing, I’m working on becoming an entreprenuer…getting my business plan together and everything. I’m also in school for my doctorate, planning on doing research in reading motivation. My hope is that I’ll have my business, writing career, and my research to work on. Between those 3, I’ll be a busy woman!

  11. says

    Anna Leone could have been talking about me. Only thing different is that I waited until I retired from teaching years later and began pursuing my writing dreams. Even this late, I’m loving every, torturous and exciting minute. I keep telling other young people who want to write–do it now, don’t wait, find the time even doing the job that earns the living. Great post!

  12. says

    Rae: Wow, you just made me a little more tired than I already am. Ha. But I know that you’ve already had passion in those areas so I know that you’ll do great in all of them. :)

    Catherine: The great thing about writing is that there is no “expiration date.” You can get started whenever. I love it that you’re focusing on it now and it seems that you are really hitting your stride lately. Good luck on that revision project. :)

  13. says

    I’m trying to juggle teaching and writing, both things I really enjoy. I do them both part-time and it’s hard. So far, I haven’t had to make a decision where I choose one over the other, but sometimes I wish for the days when I was just a freelance writer (and stay at home mom). I think eventually, I will go back to just being a writer.

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