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I'm a programmer and an aspiring writer. I love writing. Over the past year, I had been working on my first novel. Making the plot, dimensioning the characters, integrating conflicts etc. And when I started writing the novel, Snap! came a financial crisis; now I can't pay my college fees.

Fortunately, a door of hope opened and I was invited to join a team of programmers who are working on a project and will pay me for my contribution. It will be enough.

Now the real problem is, if I join them, I can be rest assured that my writing career will end prematurely. I don't want that to happen at any cost. But if I go forward with my writing, I won't be able to pay my fees. And this is India. Here, you need to have a degree to find yourself a good publisher.

Could someone suggest a way how I can resolve my dilemma?

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Although I've answered because I'm sympathetic to your situation, this question needs to be more focused; "Please Help?" is a bad question. Perhaps you should be asking, "Will my writing career end if I take a full time job?" or "How do I balance work with my love of writing?" –  Craig Sefton Aug 8 '11 at 10:06

5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Your writing career will only end if you stop writing. Period. So don't stop writing.

You may not have as much time as you want, or as much as you think you need. But don't stop. Write at night, write on the weekend, write over lunch.

If you want it badly enough, don't look for excuses to stop writing. Look for excuses to continue writing.

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Apply this mindset to everything you desire to do and be successful in. Thanks @Lauren. –  Kyle Hayes Oct 24 '11 at 19:10

You may not like this suggestion, and it may not necessarily work financially, but it's an idea that I'm seriously considering: how about temporarily picking up a manual labor job, like washing dishes or bagging groceries?

Instead of thinking of manual labor as being menial work for the uneducated, you could think of it as being thinking time, free from the cognitive assembly line to which you would have otherwise been assigned.

I'm a programmer/translator/editor/long-time degree-wanter too, in the exact same boat as you. The problem with programming is that it's too hard to switch gears mentally. Programming and writing are just way too addicting and mind-consuming to be compatible with other creative work.

I'm sure some people can code from 9 to 5 and then go home to work on a novel from 5:30 to bedtime, but I'm not one of them. When I'm working on interesting code, I can't stop; I can neither sleep nor wake up without the problem haunting me.

For any creative work, my best ideas come when I'm doing something repetitive and non-cognitive, like walking, practicing scales on violin/piano, scribbling, or doing volunteer work. I'm pretty sure serving fast food or sorting inventory would be just as good.

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No i actually liked this! Thanks Rei.. Although i know i wont follow on it right now, but yes i will keep it in my mind! :) –  Amin Mohamed Ajani Aug 30 '11 at 11:22

Like others have said, if writing is truly something you want to do, you can find time to do it. Lunch, breaks, nights (stay up an extra hour). Any time you go to turn on the TV, stop and ask, "why aren't I writing instead?"

I'm also a software developer, and I have a wife and three young kids, but I've been able to write nearly 60,000 words on my first novel this summer, mainly by finding time wherever I can. Is it as much as I would like? Of course not. But writing is something I enjoy, so I make the time to do it.

Don't give up.

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Thanks a lot guys! You truly are lifesavers! :) –  Amin Mohamed Ajani Aug 10 '11 at 8:58

Don't look at it as ending your career. Think of it more as gaining more real-world experience to enrich your writing. Maybe you'll go through something that you can apply to your story. I've found that through working in an area that's not writing (in IT as well) I meet people and learn many things that have helped my writing and understanding of my plots and characters greatly.

Most importantly, don't stop writing. I can't stress that enough. Even if you say you don't have time, I reply that everyone needs to take a dump often enough, and surely you can write at the same time. :P
Though, I hope you won't have to go that far!

And although you may need a degree to be published in India, the world is getting smaller with the internet. Agents are happy to take manuscripts from overseas (last I heard, anyway!).

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Firstly, you need to make a living so you can eat, pay the bills, and support yourself. If you like the job, and enjoy programming, take the job. Being able to support yourself from just your writing from word go is a tall order indeed; I don't think there are many writers out there that are able to do that from their first book.

Secondly, having a job doesn't mean you can't do writing part time. Your assumption that your writing career will end if you take the job is just not true. Many writers hold down other jobs while they write. I myself am a computer programmer, working every day, with a family to support, and a million and one things that take up my time, but I still find some time to write, because I enjoy it. Is it as much as I like? No, but it's enough to keep going.

If you're passionate about writing, you'll find the time to feed your passion.

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