Skip to main content

Becoming a Full-Time Author: Three Mindset Shifts Every Writer Must Make

Every writer wants to become a full-time author. Author Pagan Malcolm shares three mindset shifts that can help writers transition to this lifestyle sooner.

It's the dream lifestyle for every aspiring author who pictures a long, successful career writing books—leisurely waking up, making a hot cup of coffee, and perhaps indulging in some reading before starting your busy writing day in the office.

But full-time authorship isn't without its own pros and cons.

(Writing Mistakes Writers Make.)

The thing about authorship is that it's something no new author has ever attempted before—so naturally, we're going to make mistakes along the way. But some of these mistakes are completely avoidable with a simple mindset shift.

Do you plan on achieving full-time authorship in the next 3–5 years? Then take a look at these massive shifts and realizations I (thankfully) had quite early in my author career. These powerful mindset shift tips may just make or break the timeframe in which you make becoming a full-time writer happen.

Becoming a Full-Time Author: Three Mindset Shifts Every Writer Must Make

1) Overnight Success Is Not A Real Thing

It might feel like every other writer's books are flying off the shelves overnight, but I promise you that they have spent months (if not years) working furiously hard to make that happen.

Writerly success is not as easy as writing the book, producing it, and hitting The New York Times bestseller list (though in theory, the process is that simple).

Producing a book that sells can take years. Finding the right publisher can take years. Producing it takes at least a couple of months, and don't even get me started on marketing and readership growth.

(How Long Does It Take to Get a Book Published?)

Bottom line? It takes time. So be kind to yourself! You can be a bestselling author and not make sales on a weekly basis.

You might write five books before they start to gain the kind of readership attention that will skyrocket your career. So, don't feel like a failure when your first book only sells a certain amount of copies, or you don't become an instant bestselling author. That frustrated energy should instead be channeled into more determined writing, more promotion, and more networking—which will result in your inevitable success.

2) It's Easier Than You Think To Burn Out

I'm willing to bet that at the moment, you are writing in your evenings after a long, eight-hour work shift at the day job. And then, you're promoting your book in every other moment you can spare in your day.

Basically, you're working three full-time jobs. No wonder it's so easy to burn out! Here's the thing—writing might have started as a hobby, but it's now a way for you to make a living, and if you want to actually make a living doing it, it's going to require some strategic thinking.

(5 Ways to Keep Focus When Burned Out and Brain-Fried.)

So yes, you may have a day job that sucks up a lot of energy and time. But if you can confidently say that you only have two hours left in your day for writing and promotion, then you can ensure you're making the most of that time.

Here's a scenario: Would you rather be spending those two hours manually posting in Facebook groups to sell your book? Or would you want to spend it writing? Because here's the thing—why would you be doing all that manual promotion if you can automate the sales process through an email marketing funnel?

*Insert lightbulb moment*

This is why you want to create systems—not only will it make your life so much easier, but it's what a business owner would do.

3) Deadlines & Schedules Are Your Best Friend

I know it might not feel like it when you're functioning on your third cup of coffee and it's approximately eight hours until your editing deadline—but life without deadlines is so much worse.

Picture this: You're now a full-time author. You don't have to work a day job. You have all day, every day, for the next three months to finish writing your book.

(Writing for the Time Impoverished.)

And … you don't have any kind of writing schedule. So, you procrastinate, and procrastinate, because you have time, and before you know it the deadline has arrived and you're only halfway through. Whoops!

Deadlines keep us on our toes and kick our butts into gear—so if you want to be a full-time author, it's a good idea to get the hang of meeting them. To do this, having a writing routine (or some kind of writing system that works for you) is essential.

Whether you commit to writing every day or you dedicate a single day to hitting a large word count goal, you've got to get it done … because, well, it's kind of your job now!

One Final Thing 

Being a full-time author is a fun, flexible, and rewarding career path—and it's 100 percent achievable. But not making these key mindset shifts can definitely hold you back from getting there faster.

So many authors get frustrated (or give up) when they're not seeing that instant success, or they're spending all of their energy on the wrong tasks, and they feel trapped in a time vortex because there's no structure to their schedule.

But, it doesn't have to feel like a struggle—and making these habitual changes early on will help you become an even more productive and successful writer. If you fulfill the shoes of who you desire to become, you will become that person much sooner than you think.

*****

12 Weeks to a First Draft

In WD University's 12 Weeks to a First Draft, you will tackle the steps to writing a book, learn effective writing techniques along the way, and of course, begin writing your first draft. Register today!

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

Award-winning novelist David Adams Cleveland discusses the timeliness of his new novel, Gods of Deception.

Lisa Jewell | Writer's Digest Interview Quote

The WD Interview: Lisa Jewell

The New York Times-bestselling British author discusses creating thrilling plot twists and developing characters in her 19th novel, The Night She Disappeared, in this interview from the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

Author Anat Deracine found her agent at Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Now she’s sharing what she’s learned to help other writers become authors. Here are her 5 tips for successfully pitching literary agents in person.

Tips for Reading Poetry in Front of an Audience

8 Tips for Reading Your Poetry in Front of an Audience

Poet's Market editor and published poet Robert Lee Brewer shares eight tips for reading your poetry in front of an audience.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character lose their powers.

Sharon Short | Point of View Quote 1

Managing Point of View: Mythbusting

In the first of this three-part series, novelist and WD columnist Sharon Short breaks down 7 of the most common myths about choosing which POV is right for your story.

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

As self-publishing continues to become an attractive and popular options for writers, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to have the right expectations. Here, author and entrepreneur Tom Vaughan shares how to channel your inner “authorpreneur” to help your book find its readers.

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Award-winning author, playwright, and journalist Mark Kurlansky discusses the experience of channeling Ernest Hemingway in his new memoir, The Importance of Not Being Ernest.

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to Alyssa Rickert, Grand Prize winner of the 2nd Annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's her winning essay, "In Between."