Choosing a Career As a Writer in Tough Economic Times

Many great writers have spoken and written about the challenges of choosing to become a writer as a vocational path. Making a comfortable living at it is practically like winning the lotto. Further, when you’ve been doing something else as a career that you were academically trained for and was able to support yourself doing, it really seems illogical. Then if you add in a bad economy, choosing to be an artist  without a patron or parents to support you, there are those who would say (like my aging parents) that as a career choice, it borders on psychotic.

The writer Marilyn Ferguson ( whose seminal work The Aquarian Conspiracy may have jump started The Human Potential Movement in the 70’s) once told me while I was interviewing her for my book many years ago, ” A writer writes because they cannot not do it.” I held onto those words  through the years of many rejections of my book proposals to New York publishers. When I finally decided to just write the book,  I realized I now had the freedom to write the book that was in me not the one that could be marketable, and it was liberating!

I kept my day job as a therapist part time and lived very simply. When it came time to edit the book, I knew I needed an editor to help me who could give it a major hair cut without losing the unique style that was my own. The good news bad news about that was that she told me we had to cut about 70 pages of material. She told me it would be like “killing my proverbial babies”. Very soon into the process I realized I had to let go of my practice for awhile to do this project with full commitment.

Two weeks after I made that decision and we had begun, Wall Street quaked and the reality of the country’s economic crisis really hit. I continued, encouraged that my book would come out at the perfect time. In the ensuing nine months I have spent a staggering amount of money on editing, self publishing, and PR for this book. As I turned my attention back to my private practice,it too was not so easy to restimulate. It is growing, but slowly. Is the book a bestseller yet? No, far from it.

I now have to invest in internet marketing and am in a learning curve about social communities, SEO’s, guest blogging, etc  The point is I may never make a lucrative living as a writer and it has been costly and time consuming and in spite of all that, I have no regrets about embarking on this journey. In the past three years of writing consistently, I have become a writer not just an author and there is no way to put a dollar value on the emotional satisfaction of learning a new skill in mid life.

I took a week off and did no blogging, newsletter, article writing of any kind.I needed to refill the well but surprisingly, I felt a little guilty and more importantly, I missed it. Along the way of my quest to get this message of LifeQuake (that you can thrive in the midst of career transition, tough economic times and a life in total chaos) I got something for myself, a deep intimate relationship with my own words and the muse “from who knows where” who inspires me. What grace!

Dr. Toni Galardi is the author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval. She is also a licensed psychotherapist, public speaker, and advice columnist. She can be reached through her website, http://www. or her office 310-712-2600.