The Times They Are A-Changin'

49 years ago this week, Bob Dylan finished recording his third studio album, The Times They Are a-Changin'.

The title track was his deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the moment. It captured the spirit of social and political unrest of the 1960s.

What does Bob Dylan have to do with you and the writer's life?

I believe we're in another period of radical change. This time, it's all about economics and work instead of politics.

Long-term employment with one company is a dying concept. We're trending toward more contract work, where individuals bring their unique skills to the marketplace as "free agents."

I saw the writing on the wall in two of my past lives. I had a very successful career in direct sales, but one of the companies I worked for no longer exists.

Another former employer, a large publishing company out of New York, folded into an even larger company. They cut their sales force by two-thirds, and from what I've heard, those who are left are making less than they did in the 1990s. Much of the business is now online, with less need for expensive personnel.

More recently, a large regional bank that I worked for up until 2009 just got bought by a Canadian bank. As a result, a number of my former co-workers were fired two weeks ago.

Your writing plans may be casual if you have a safe, secure job that you enjoy. You can do it in your leisure time for a little extra money. (Although you must also consider whether any job is safe and secure these days.)

If you're hungry to make writing a full-time endeavor like I was, however, you're in the right place at the right time.

My aim this week is twofold. I want to inspire you to embrace this new mode of working. I'm going to tell you why my family got on board, too, and some unexpected benefits we received.

I also want to give you some practical steps to transition into this freelance lifestyle while you figure out your long-range plans.

Yes, the times they are a-changin'. Is the writer's life calling your name? Have you heard a whisper but aren't sure what to do?

My article "On Hemingway, Inspiration, and Acting on Big Ideas" might give you a nudge toward making it happen.

What aspect of the "free agent" lifestyle first attracted you? What is the biggest challenge you've had so far in pursuing it? Leave a quick note in the comments section here.

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Published: October 29, 2012

12 Responses to “The Times They Are A-Changin'”

  1. Great article, Steve! And it was a pleasure to finally meet you at Bootcamp. ;-)

    What attracts me to The Writer's Life is having complete control over my time. This allows me to earn money at my own pace. In fact, you end up earning more because you're more efficient with the time you do use. No more trading time for money like a traditional job...

    Keep up the great work, Steve!!!


  2. Good thinking and it fits. What attracted me was the opportunity to work for money at an advanced age (retirement on SS just doesn't handle today's bills). Employers for the most part aren't interested in older employees.

    Guest (Joe Brusse)

  3. I am absolutely attracted to the Writer's Life. My biggest challenge is overcoming lack of confidence that I can pull it off, and so I am often stuck in a 'how to get this started mode'.

    Guest (Karen)

  4. Steve this is a terrific article. I'm actually experiencing some of the long-term employment is dying concept. I shared a bit of it during the AWAI Bootcamp - wow, sharing that story with a room full of people was scary and exhilarating at the same time. I think that's when the free agent concept really hit home for me -- when I faced my fears and looked at reality. It was great to meet you!

    Shawn Maus

  5. Fantastic article Steve.
    The "Free Agent" lifestyle is a great opportunity to create your own social/financial security.

    The biggest challenge I've had so far in pursuing it is finding the time and stability to put into it,ie., balancing family commitments/responsibilities.

    Marcellus Greene

  6. Hi Steve, for me the call came loud and clear about 4 months ago, when I finally admitted to myself that I am stuck in a career I'm no longer passionate about. It was right about then, that Steve Slaunwhite wrote a series on B2B copywriting and the light went off - that's it, that's what I really want to do. What attracts me to the "free agent" lifestyle is the propsect of being in charge of all aspects of my professional life rather than having them dictated by someone else.

    Guest (Art McCormack)

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