Episode 28

Chase Replogle

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Why is so much of the advice about writing how to make money as a writer? And what is a professional writer anyway?
Why is so much of the advice about writing how to make money as a writer? And what is a professional writer anyway?
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Show Notes:28. Chase Replogle — Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Have you ever noticed that a large percentage of the people who talk about how to make money online make their money online by talking about how to make money online?

Ya, it feels pretty circular. Unfortunately, a lot of the advice on how to make it as a writer seems to follow the same downward spiral. 5 ways to get paid as a writer. The Ultimate Side-hustle: 14 Ways to Get Paid to Write. How I make a Living as a Writer (and You Can, Too). Earn Up to $750 a Week Selling Books on Amazon.

I bet you’ve seen it too. Sometimes its hard to find good advice on writing for all the advice on how to make it as a writer. I have a weird theory that writing might be best done on the side.

Episode Transcript

The following is an automated transcription. It is recorded exactly as it was spoken.

Chase Replgole: 00:00 You’re listening to the pastor writer podcast, episode 28.

Chase Replogle: 00:05 Before I jump into today’s podcast, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who have subscribed and followed the podcast. I launched the podcast in February of this year and this past week just passed 10,000 downloads, which is a big milestone for me. If you haven’t, I would really appreciate you subscribing. It’s easy if you’re listening on itunes or any podcast player. If you’re on the website, it’s just a click away as well, and while you’re there, I’d also appreciate it if you wouldn’t mind leaving a review. You can do that just by using the star feature or type out a review. Send me a message however you’d like. The feedback is a great way to help me continue improving the podcasts. So with that, let’s jump into our topic today. Don’t quit your day job.

Chase Replgole: 00:45 Have you ever noticed that a large percentage of the people who talk about how to make money online make their money online by talking about how to make money online? It feels pretty circular, unfortunately. A lot of the advice on how to make it as a writer, it seems to follow that same downward spiral, five ways to get paid as a writer, the ultimate side hustle, 14 ways to get paid to write how I make a living as a writer and how you can to earn up to $750 a week selling books on Amazon. I bet you’ve seen it before too. Sometimes it’s hard to find good advice on writing for all of the advice on how to make it as a writer. I have a weird theory that writing might be best done on the side. Let’s call it writing by vocationally. Writing that doesn’t make a living by location is a word that I often use to describe myself as a pastor as well and I’m regularly surprised to find out people haven’t heard it before by vocational pastors work a second job to help support their pastoral ministry.

Chase Replgole: 01:42 Many of you may do the same thing. I am a freelance web designer, which helps me support my work planting and pastoring a church. I actually have an article on the pastor, writer website about being bi vocational and how it’s actually helped me be a better pastor. It’s worth a read if you’re interested in the topic. I think there is a trend and trying to be a full time pastor that often sneaks into our attempts to becoming a full time writer as well. Most pastors get into the ministry because of a deep passion to serve God and people we imagine that ministry will involve study and scripture and prayer and investing in people’s lives, but if you want in on a secret, eventually pastors out a much longer list to their job descriptions, email budgets, building maintenance systems creation, leadership pipelines, hr policies and discipline, payroll management, Liabilities and risk assessment.

Chase Replgole: 02:33 You get the idea. The more successful a pastor is, the more they fight to keep the stuff that made them a pastor. In the beginning, my dad was a cop for more than 30 years, well at least until they promoted him to manage other cops. That job required emails, budgets, system creation, building maintenance. Pretty much the same list that pastors eventually deal with. Even when my dad was serving as the superintendent of the entire state police with 2000 employees, he would occasionally still pull someone over or stop and help a stranded motorist, changed their tire, couldn’t help squeezing some of that cop stuff back in to the job he had always wanted to do. My point is there’s nothing wrong with talking about making it as a writer, making a living as a writer, being a full time writer. If your books become a breakout success and you end up able to write full time, do it, but you’ll have a long list of additional responsibilities as well and having talked to some full time writers here on the podcast, I get the impression that they to find it, a challenge to find time to write in an effort to make it as a full time writer.

Chase Replgole: 03:38 Most ended up picking up writing related services, copy editing, ghostwriting selling ebooks, teaching writing classes. They ended up just as busy, impressed for writing time as the rest of us. The real question shouldn’t be, how much money can I make as writer? Can I make a living as a writer? The real question should be, is there a way to fund my writing? How can I get my life in my occupation to make writing more of a possibility? At times I’ve really wanted to give up my job as a web designer alongside pastoring and writing. It’s an awkward and strange sort of third wheel with time. I’ve begun to recognize that in many ways it’s a gift. It helps me pay the bills and provide for my family, which takes a significant amount of the stress out of writing and pastoring. I don’t have to depend on them to put gas in the car or cover the mortgage.

Chase Replgole: 04:28 Have you ever considered how, depending on your writing to pay your bills, might impact the way you actually write? One of the things I’ve loved about being a by vocational pastor is that it’s helped me manage expectations and stress associated with church. I don’t want to get to the point where during Sunday morning worship, my prayers are absorbed. My attention focused on how good the offering is going to be that week, but we’d be able to hit the payroll goal that we need to. I don’t want my writing to be obsessed with cashflow either. I want to find ways to be able to support my writing financially, however I can that allows me to do it the way that I want. Who doesn’t hope to someday receive a great advance or have the joy of receiving book sales that pour in royalty checks, and if God would have it, I’d be happy to spend more time writing, but I know my own heart and I know the power of greed well enough to know that when ministry and profits mingle, we should tread carefully and wisely, but let’s get our heads out of the future hypothetical with this dash of cold water to the face.

Chase Replgole: 05:30 You’re doomed from the start. If you wanted to be a writer simply for the money. Danny Ivy wrote this for inc magazine. We imagine a successful authors life to be idealic. Write a book or several, sell millions of copies. Sit back and relax on a secluded island living off of your book royalties. The reality couldn’t be more different. A typical book author barely makes more than minimum wage. If you receive an advance and 10 percent royalties on the net profits of each book, If your book retails at $25 per copy, you would need to sell at least 4,000 copies to break even on a $5,000 advance. Matt Cohler, author of think like a Rockstar, estimates that he earned $15 and sixty three cents an hour for writing his book, working 25 hours per week over a period of nine months. I’m not saying you can’t make money from writing books, right?

Chase Replgole: 06:22 Stay on Ivy. The likes of John Grisham, Stephen King and J K Rowling prove you can even if your royalties were only $1 per book. If you sold 1 million books, then you’d become a millionaire. But few of us can sell as many books as James Patterson. The average US nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3000 copies over its lifetime. Says publishers. Steve presented and very few titles are big sellers. The truth is that if you’re writing for money, you’re better off getting a job at starbucks or the library for that matter if you need to be around books. If you’re a regular listener to this podcast, I’m aware that you’re calling to ride is probably much deeper than just cashing checks, so let me add another layer. I think there are even more important reasons to keep a day job than just the financial stability.

Chase Replgole: 07:14 I actually think that a day job makes for better writing. Make a quick mental list of your two or three favorite authors. There’s a good chance they too have day jobs. Two of my favorites, Eugene Peterson and Tim Keller, both wrote while pastoring even when they could have probably turned over their pulpits for a full time writing desk, they didn’t. Eventually Peterson did focus full time on writing, but only later in life upon what most of us would call retirement or think about cs Lewis who kept his job teaching tsl. He was famous for working his job as a banker or Franz Kafka kept his job as an insurance clerk in our book process. The writing life of great authors, Steris so dola writes this about Kafka, his day job, while these day jobs seemed to get in the way of Kafka dream of becoming a full time writer, the conditions under which he worked, the insubordination of the individual to the larger machine, the overwhelming and confusion inducing bureaucracy, incomprehensible structure imposed from some nebulous above.

Chase Replgole: 08:14 They inspired some of his greatest writings, including the trial and the metamorphosis, or here’s how Oscar Wilde put it. The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread and the highest form of literature. Poetry brings no well to the singer. I hope you caught that. Both of these authors point out that having another job might actually make you better at writing. Being an insurance agent might make you a better novelist and serving a congregation might to a job provide something more than the cash you need to cover your head and fill your belly. A job can shape who you are as a writer and what you have to say. Walter Wanger in junior and his book beat not the poor desk. A writer to young writers explains whatever we do, it will draw us out of our tendency to be reclusive.

Chase Replgole: 09:08 It will place us in conversations with fault, which conversations cannot help but enrich our experience with say, students, mill workers, criminals, customers, courtrooms, judges, and lawyers to whatever job we hold. We’ll expand our brains and feed our imagination. Whatever a writer is, they are first a person of this world, a writer, no matter how lofty their words always has, their feet on the ground. You may think your current job is to pedestrian to like everyone else’s, but that’s a remarkable gift for the writer to daily see into the world as everyone else does. It’s only here that a writer can truly discover what it is that he has to say to that world, what needs to be said to it. That brings us to maybe the most important point of this whole conversation. A writer is nothing without something to say. A good writer. Something actually worth saying, I’m not sure I even like the word writer as a job title anyways.

Chase Replgole: 10:08 What is a writer? I just flicked it up in the dictionary here on my desk and my suspicions were confirmed. A writer is defined as quote one who writes or has written a writer, writer, writer is just a lame noun to try and characterize an action. A writer is a person who does the action of writing, not much of a job description. That word works for a vocation though a calling. I’m called to take this action to live this way too, right, but it’s a pretty terrible job title. It’s not unlike my frustrated relationship with the title pastor. It is a proper title considering my ordination by a denomination to use it as a title for myself, but pastor serves far better as a word to describe my calling and actions than it does a title, both pastor and writer or more than occupations. The moment you close your eyes and try to imagine what a pastor or a writer might look like, you’re already in trouble.

Chase Replgole: 11:10 The image is always a characterization. The real meaning is only an action only lived and experienced. The doing and the action of pastoring and writing is far more comprehensive than a time slot on a calendar or a title card that you hang on your door. No business card can fully capture what it is to be and then use my dad’s career as a cop again, as an example, when he retired and when he stopped putting on the uniform and picking up his paycheck, it did not stop him from being a cop after 30 years. That’s not a switch. You can simply turn off. He still sees and thinks about the world like a cop would. My brother is a captain in the US Marine Corps and he takes very seriously the respect for others who have served before him. We might describe them in the past tense.

Chase Replgole: 11:57 They were marines. Marines don’t make that distinction though it isn’t a job which you can retire from. You may not be active, but once a marine, you’re always a marine. It’s something you do. The way you live, the way you think about life. It’s a calling. I want to suggest that being a writer and being a pastor is more like that than it is something you can carve out as an occupation. Maybe you get a paycheck to do it. Hopefully that’s great. Maybe you’ve never ended dying from it. What really matters is the action. What matters is how you go about doing it. You don’t need a fat royalty check to be a writer. Let me push it one step further. You don’t need anyone else to call you a writer to be one. Either you don’t even need to use the title for yourself.

Chase Replgole: 12:45 Who cares if you’re a writer or not? What matters is, are you writing? Are you living it? Let me give you that definition one more time in case you miss just how profound it is. A writer is one who writes the obstacle between you and the simplicity of that definition is that you probably have an idealized image of what a writer is. You’ve done exactly what I claim shouldn’t and can’t truly be done. You can close your eyes and imagine every detail of being a writer is. If you could take a picture of one in the wild and instantly recognize them, but shouldn’t I point out writers don’t tend to wear uniforms. Catching a glimpse doesn’t tell you anything at all. Looks down. What are you wearing right now? Hopefully you’re not listening to this in the shower because it kind of ruins the point that I’m making, but stick with me.

Chase Replgole: 13:34 Whatever you are wearing, that’s what a writer where’s. Think about the place you last wrote. For me, it’s the Home Office that doubles as my daughter’s nursery. That’s exactly what a writer’s office should look like. Where did you go show up for work last Monday. That’s a great place to shape your writing. A great job for a writer. If you really were able to become that romanticized image of a writer that you desperately want to be alone in some rustic cabin, a fire in the fireplace, sold books on the shelves and snow falling outside. If that’s all you were as a writer, you wouldn’t have much to actually write about. It sounds more like inspiration for some hallmark Christmas movie script than most of the books that have really changed my life. Dietrich bonhoeffer wrote some of his greatest works, hiding from the Nazis. Spurgeon suffered terrible bouts of depression.

Chase Replgole: 14:24 Well, he wrote in preached Cs Lewis. Life was full of all kinds of doubts and pains and struggles. Go read his biography. Oswald Chambers, who we’ve talked about on the podcast tragically died young and his wife is to Oh, for most of his published work in Reno, in his written entire books like the wounded healer in which he describes the powerful struggle for faithfulness and holiness of his own life. My point is, there’s no real image of a writer. There’s no goal. There’s no milestone, no finish line for finally making it as one. What you have will work just fine. Rip Up the image and just get started writing. Let me wrap up with this image of Tsl ied, who I mentioned before, worked as a bank teller while writing Robert fate describes Elliot’s work for the Paris review this way, writing when the most influential poets of the 20th century pinned the wasteland in 1922.

Chase Replgole: 15:21 He was also due to flee employed as a clerk in a London Bank and by bank I don’t mean your neighborhood credit union where they raffle off family getaways to Disney and give lollipops to cute kids, but in austere English bank with officers who wore bowler hats and secretly idolize the pre transformation scrooge and a Christmas carol. Ts at worked in the foreign transactions department of Lloyd’s bank from 1917 until 1925 from the age of 29 until he was 37. He punched in Monday through Friday plus one Saturday a month from 9:15 AM to 5:30 PM. Like many Americans today, he only qualified for two weeks vacation per year. Historian Russ Kirk and his essential book on Elliot Elliot and his age writes the publication and success of the wasteland both changed and didn’t change. Elliot. Circumstances like other poets before him, Elliott awoke to find himself famous, but still he labored in the cellars of Lloyd’s Bank and by referring to the seller here, Kirk is not being metaphorical.

Chase Replgole: 16:25 The novelists, Aldous Huxley visited Elliot at Lloyd’s and wrote Elliot was not on the ground floor nor even on the floor underneath that, but in a sub sub basement sitting at a desk which is in a row of desks with other bank clerks, and while Elliot’s banking days are no secret, what is less appreciated is that he was really good at that day job. Huxley observed that Elliot was indeed the most bank clerky of all bank clerks and an officer of Lloyd’s. Upon hearing of Elliot Success with his hobby remarks that Elliot had instead of bright future at Lloyd’s, if he wanted it, if he goes on as he has been doing, I don’t see why in time. Of course, in time he mightn’t even become a branch manager. Let me add one more piece to it. Leo wasn’t known to often correspond with his fans, but on one rare occasion, he took the time to offer advice to a 16 year old aspiring writer who pinned in with some questions.

Chase Replgole: 17:21 Eliot wrote, Dear Miss Alice Quinn, I do not often answer letters because I’m too busy, but I like your letter. I cannot tell you how to concentrate because that is something I’ve been trying to learn all my life, their spiritual exercises and concentration, but I am not the person to teach what I am trying to learn. All I know is that if you were interested enough and care enough, then you’ll concentrate, but nobody can tell you how to start writing. The only good reason for writing is that one has to write. What you have is what you need. Tear up the image of a writer. Imagine instead exactly what you are now and get started writing. A writer is one who writes.

Chase Replogle: 18:14 You’ve been listening to the pastor writer podcast. You can find notes for today’s episode as well as past episodes by going to [inaudible] dot com slash 28. Again, I’d just like to encourage you, if you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the podcast. It’s a great way to be able to show you some more and as always, thanks for listening. Until next time.

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