What advice would you give someone aspiring to be a writer in today’s economy?

Hmm. A good question. I think in ANY economy, if you are an aspiring writer or artist, you should never expect to make money off your work, or expect that your work will financially sustain you. Making a living off your art is incredibly difficult. 

I was a computer programmer for nine years before I quit my job to write full-time. My job allowed me to pay my bills, live in New York, go on vacation and afford my life. Because I didn’t have to worry about paying the bills with my writing, I was able to write about anything I wanted and I was a freelancer for all that time as well. I used my writing money for “handbag money.”

When I finally quit my job to write full-time, I was terrified, and I was also prepared to be poor. I was making a six-figure salary as a senior analyst at Morgan Stanley, it was hard to give up, but in the end, it was getting in the way of concentrating on my writing, and really giving it the time it needed.

I sold my first novel for a tenth of what I made, but it was enough to give me the confidence to quit, and also to decide I could live frugally within the amount I was given.

So I would say, if you want to be a writer, try to learn a trade that can sustain you until your work can sustain yourself. Learn to live frugally. It’s not a lesson I’ve ever learned, but when I needed to know how to count my pennies, I did.