Step 1) Ask yourself – Is this what I really want to do? There is a common misconception that being a writer is going to launch you into J K Rowling-like fame and make you filthy rich. You must work on the assumption that this is not going to happen to you.
Step 2) Confirm you have actually written something of length or a volume of stories/articles that mean you have the dedication needed to stick with it. Oh- and make sure other people have read some of this work.
Step 3) Don’t do it. Now now, I am not suggesting you wouldn’t be a fantastic writer and that you couldn’t make money or achieve success, what I am suggesting is that if you haven’t already done it by now, perhaps writing should be/remain your passion and not a job.
Of course I am targeting this post at people like myself- someone who studied an unrelated discipline (computer science in my case), has worked for many years in a non-writing industry and has now discovered that they might just have some talent and passion for writing. If you are a 12-20 year old reading this and you are considering writing as a career- I say go for it! But for the rest of us, who are tempted by a career change, I encourage caution.
I enjoy writing immensely and that is why I spend my weekends (usually only about 8 hours at my local cafe) doing it. My work week is spent making money doing something I am trained for and have spent many years getting good at. I’ve often found myself day dreaming about what it would be like to be a full time writer but I know my visions of casually typing up a novel over an all day breakfast are unrealistic. The truth is- once something becomes your full time job, it means there is an added pressure to be disciplined in order to make $$.
My sister bought me an awesome book called So good they can’t ignore you, by Cal Newport and it has really opened my eyes on this subject. Your job, doesn’t have to be your passion and vice-versa. Throwing yourself into your new passion and forcing it to be a job can cause it to stop being your passion. Think about it.