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From Day Job to Full-Time Author in 4 Months

And $84,000 of Debt Paid off in Less Than a Year


From Day Job to Full-Time Writer in Four Months

By Matthew Thrush

Most people dream of living their lives with freedom and passion, doing what they love. Some have cracked the code and are not constrained by the restraints and limitations placed on us by society and maintaining the status quo.

We’ve been conditioned from birth to live, act, and work a certain way. We go to school, to college for a degree that we’re told is required to secure a job only to discover you’ll never use any of it and now are in tens of thousands of dollars in debt, to then spend the rest of your life working to capture those illusive retirement years, when you can finally relax and enjoy life.

Working grants you freedom and your independence, right?

But too many of us have forfeited our dreams for Life Support. We’ve given up our freedom for comfort and perceived stability.

If we’re not pursuing or living out our purposes on this earth, something inside of us revolts and nags at us, until we submit to its call or medicate ourselves to the point of silencing it. If these words are resonating with you, making you feel uncomfortable and offended, or curious then allow me to share a story with you.



The Story

There was a man who worked as a technical writer for one of the world’s largest web hosting companies. The pay was decent and the benefits were good. The job allowed him and his wife to start a family, move closer to their relatives, and start their lives together as a newly married couple.

But all was not well with this man. His dark skeleton was over $84,000 of debt that he had accrued over an eight-year stint, no job, with dwindling prospects. He went eight months without a full-time job until he landed the one with the web hosting company.

So when he says life was good, he meant it. He now had a steady income coming in that allowed him and his wife to start paying off his copious amounts of debt. She got a new job as well and they doubled the attack on the debt until they succeeded in paying it off in eleven months.



What Happened Next?

This story is not of the miraculous recovery from paying off over $84,000 of debt in less than a year. This man’s story is of how he knew something was missing in his life and how he finally pursued it. This man made the goal to quit his day job as a technical writer to write novels full-time by the end of the year. He made this commitment in March 2017. That gave him ten months to achieve his goal. He did it in four.

The man I’m telling you about is me. I worked a great day job. It allowed me to provide for my family, save for a 401(k), build my resume and experience, and write (technical writing was still writing to me). But it didn’t fulfill me. Why?

Because I’ve always had a deeper calling and passion inside of me ever since I was a young boy.

That was to make a living as a full-time author and become a #1 bestseller and sell thousands to millions of copies of books. So what changed?

I had a mindset shift. I didn’t want to be one of the majority who go their whole lives without ever effectively trying to pursue their dreams. If I tried and failed, at least I would have tried. If I never tried, I’d live the rest of my life with what ifs suffocating my thoughts like they already were.

I went from working a corporate job to writing novels full-time in four months (I could have done it sooner but waited to ensure it was the right decision to make). During this time, I became a #1 Amazon bestselling author of multiple books and have written over twenty-three books at the writing of this article.

My income went from less than $4000 (gross) a month as a technical writer for the top web hosting company in the world to continuously earning over $10,000 each month doing what I love: writing books and helping people.

My hope is that my story will encourage someone who’s going through something similar or worse, or just struggling to stay motivated and feeling like a failure, to keep pushing and believing in themselves.

What follows is what I did to make that dream a reality and how you can too.



The Foundation

Before beginning any great adventure or journey, it’s important to gather the supplies you need for the quest. In the goal of quitting my day job and writing books full-time, that meant researching and understanding the market and learning what it would take to make that a reality. (I did this before I ever made the conscious decision and goal of quitting; two years earlier).

This meant figuring out if I had what it took to write full-time and if readers would like my stories. In truth, every dream is an accumulation of many life choices over a longer period of time. But sometimes specific moments in our lives are the catalysts that jumpstart us in the right direction. That was in August 2015 for me (only five months after I started my technical writer job).

I heard about a site where writers could post their stories and readers could read them for free. I was referred to it from a fellow writer as a way to build a readership and validate story ideas. I created an account in August 2015 as an experiment.

The site was Wattpad.

I had been researching what elements the best books in the market had that made them sell and become bestsellers. One of the key features was writing each chapter as if it’s the first and keeping it action-packed, with short chapters, and using cliff-hangers.

My wife purchased James Patterson’s MasterClass on writing as a gift for me around that same time. I took his course in conjunction to my research and several of his ideas and methods resonated with me and affirmed what I researched.



I took what I had learned…

…and started a new post-apocalyptic story as an experiment. I have never written post-apocalyptic stories, but I had this idea in my head for several years that wouldn’t let me go. I had just never gotten to writing it. You know how it is…that ever present friend: self-doubt. It had me in his cuffs, but I was breaking out this time.

I decided to implement some of the other things I had researched and to challenge myself. If I was going to give this new story a shot, I wanted to make sure I gave it the best I could. I chose to write this new story in first person, from a female’s perspective. My thoughts were that the majority of readers were women, and that by writing from a woman’s point of view, my story might resonate more with them. And thus, began my experiment.

[Note from Nick: click here to read about how to make your stories resonate with readers]

That first story is called 2136: A Post-Apocalyptic Novel. I posted each chapter as I wrote them on Wattpad.  I had heard of writers, who used Wattpad, getting publishing contracts or movie deals, with millions of reads and thousands of followers. I wanted that for me but never imagined it would happen quite like it did, or as quickly.



The Power of Wattpad

Wattpad selected 2136 as a Featured Story within five months of me posting it, followed by it reaching #2 in all of Science Fiction, accruing over 801,000 reads, with nearly 54,000 followers.

Wattpad is the world’s largest free ereader site. Writers can post their stories there for readers to read for free. Readers can interact with you by voting, leaving comments, adding your story to their reading list, or sharing it, etc. Wattpad has over 300 million published stories on their site and over 50 million active users each month. Only about 1% are writers; and Science Fiction is one of the hardest to rank in (Wattpad only ranks the Top 1000 in any given category).

Wattpad selects the best stories in each category to place as Featured Stories. It’s extra exposure for those authors with the best performing stories on the site. This is run by their algorithm, much like Amazon (no one knows how it works!), but some of the key factors are the amount of readers, votes, shares, adds, and comments. Those stories with the most “interaction” have a better shot at being featured.

Many great things came my way from Wattpad.

I won several writing contests, had another story featured in the Horror genre; that same story made it to the Top 35 for TNT’s horror writing contest, where the winner won $20,000 and had their story adapted to film.

I was accepted as a member of Wattpad’s Ambassador program, which grants special access to a select few people who help Wattpad manage their site, run genre profiles, and enhance the experience. I was approached to run the Science Fiction profile, as well as offered and accepted into their Wattpad Futures program, which a small handful of writers have access to.

The Futures program places ads between chapters for the best writers, and when readers click on these  30-second ads, the writers who are part of this program receive a percentage of the royalties. It’s one of many ways Wattpad helps monetize the best stories and writers.

Wattpad has also contacted me to feature my stories in joint promotions for TV shows or movies.

For example, 2136 was featured as a story to promote AMC’s The Walking Dead for season 8, as well as Pride & Prejudice: Zombies. Some of my other stories were used for promotion of other shows and films.



As you can see…

Wattpad is a powerful platform and tool at your disposal to not only help you craft and develop your skill, grow a following, but also to open doors for opportunities you might not have  anywhere else.

I’ve since published 2136 and its sequel on Amazon and it became a #1 Amazon bestseller in multiple categories and #61 overall. It’s sequel is also a bestseller, as are many of the books that I write now.

While I did not receive a publishing or movie deal from writing on Wattpad, it gave me something even better: exposure, credibility, and confidence. As with work, the best thing you can have to show your worth or ability is experience. I also believe the strongest enemy of a writer (or anyone pursuing their dreams) is doubt. Wattpad allowed me to experiment with a new writing style and idea to see if readers would like it. And fortunately, readers LOVED it.

Now I knew I had something good and worth pursuing. This is when I transitioned to chasing after my dream of writing books full-time.



The Method

Before I tell you how I did it, I want to make something clear. There are many ways to achieve your dreams and do what you love and were created to do. Writing was my deepest passion; specifically writing books.

My idea of success was writing hundreds of #1 bestsellers, with movie deals, millions of copies sold, and living a wealthy life as a consequence. This could still be a possibility, but I found something that suited me better.


Many people, including me at the time, believe they have to sell thousands of books each month to make a good living as a full-time writer; that there is only one way to do it: write tons of books, publish often, and promote. Rinse. Repeat.

I did not do this. Instead, my epiphany came to me while watching a movie, ironically, called The Ghost Writer.

I never finished the movie. It may be a good movie, but I’ll never know. While the movie played, I spent the rest of the evening and days following researching what ghostwriters do and how I could become one. My search led me to a site called Upwork.

I reached my goal in only four months, though it could have been faster, but I chose to wait and be sure it would work. I’ve been writing full-time ever since, with no intention of going back.

My experience on Wattpad supplied me with the credibility I needed for my ghostwriting career, landing the first gig, and getting even better ones from then on. You may never know what your choices today will amount to tomorrow or years from now, but know this, every choice leads somewhere. Are yours leading to where you want to be in life?

If not, it’s time to start making different decisions.



The Fruit of the Harvest (where I am now)

I received my first gig on Upwork to format someone’s book within a few days of setting up my profile. I landed the next gig, my first one for writing a full-length book, right after that. This led to a long-term partnership with a publisher and a new post-apocalyptic series, which led to even more contracts with other clients.

At the writing of this, I have written over twenty-three novels; fourteen of which were ghostwritten for clients, with many more scheduled for the new year. Many of them became #1 Amazon bestsellers, and my recent book My Blessed Life: 9 Steps to Financial Freedom and Abundance was a #1 Amazon New Release. It speaks to the process and principles I used to wipe out over $84,000 of debt in less than a year.

I quit my day job as a technical writer within four months of setting my goal and started my dream job, which formed when I was a young boy in 3rd grade, when my teacher lent me her boxed set of The Lord of the Rings, because she knew I had a passion for reading, writing, and was seeking a challenge.

The key to reaching my goal of writing full-time was learning from those who were already there, reading as much as I could, and patience.

I knew you couldn’t rush it. I took one job at a time on Upwork with the end goal in mind.

I went from one promising side gig to the next. Each time when one door closed, another one that was even better would open. I could have quit my job and started my full-time writing career sooner but I was too worried to take the risk.

When I told my wife my goal for becoming a full-time writer by December 2017 (which was 10 months from that point when I told her) she nodded, wished me luck, but had doubts and fears.

Then it happened; much faster than expected.



That’s what happens…

…when you change your mindset, put in the work, learn as much as you can, and have a teachable spirit. There is nothing you cannot achieve if you first believe you can in your mind and heart.

Now, I’m a #1 Amazon bestselling author, writing 4+ books each month as a ghostwriter, with bigger plans for this year. What does that look like? Developing 3-5 online courses to teach people how I got out of debt, how to live a blessed life, make a living through freelancing, having an indestructible marriage, and becoming a full-time writer, and much more.

In addition, I’ve opened submissions for co-authoring with me. I’ve selected a few writers to help them reach their goals by partnering with them as a co-author; to mentor, guide, co-write, edit, tweak, and show them the ropes.

I’ve already signed on several writers and am excited to see where their careers go this year.

You see, we are blessed to be a blessing to others. What’s the point of having all the money, power, influence, and time in the world if you keep it to yourself? While I pursue my bigger goals for my writing and online course career, I’m seeking more ways to give back to others. My hope is that this post acts as one way to do that.



My Writing Process

I learned early on that if I wanted to make writing books a full-time career, I needed to treat it as one and not just a hobby.

For me, unless you’re earning enough to live off of, your writing is only a hobby unless you treat it like a full-time job. Meaning, you write every day and commit yourself to developing your craft and constantly learning more.

Back in August 2015, when I created my profile on Wattpad, I made up my mind to write every day at that point and to start treating my writing as a full-time job.

I had treated it as a nice hobby up until this point, writing in spurts. But if I wanted to make a true go at this thing, I needed to commit 100% into it like I did everything else in my life. I started by writing and posting on chapter each day, never missing a day.

For serial stories (and even standard published books) the best chapter length is between 1500-3000 words. Of course chapters can be shorter or longer, but that’s the standard proven length for optimal performance and read-through with online readers.

So that meant each day I wrote at least 3,000 words. I didn’t worry about the writing being perfect, but focused on getting the words down on the screen while the story flowed. That’s the trick to success as a writer.

Write every day, write as quickly as you can without editing, then edit when the book is finished.

[Note from Nick: click here to read our article How to Write a Novel in 30 Days]



Starting off it was tough.

I had developed bad habits over the years with long droughts of no writing to tsunamis of writing full books in a week. That kind of inconsistency is not conducive to a successful career as a writer, unless you’re someone like Stephen King or Lee Child who can take years to write a book and still sell millions. But we’re banking on the fact that we’re no King, Child, or Rowling.

They’re examples of BIG names, but the majority of indie authors making a good living will never sell that many copies, but the good news is, you DON’T have to.

After about two weeks the writing routine got better. I committed to at least 1500 words each day, but started writing over 5000+. Naturally, as my readership grew on Wattpad, this pleased readers waiting for the next chapter, which only motivated me more to keep writing faster.

That’s another good thing if you struggle to finish a book or motivation. Create a profile on Wattpad and/or do NaNoWriMo to encourage yourself to finish the book as fast as you can. You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve with a daily routine of writing a little.



I finished writing 2136 in three months

And I wrote write the sequel in about a month. My writing speed wasn’t so much my typing speed as it was my mindset and developing a new habit of writing every day. But, I’m always looking for ways to improve and be more efficient.

I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking 13 Premium and have been experimenting with dictation. I’m getting better at it, but I know that it’ll only get better and more natural for me like my writing did by doing it every day. So far, I average 10,000-15,000+ words each day. My goal is to get that well over 20,000 on a consistent basis and write two or more books each week.

[Note from Nick – click here for our ultimate guide to using Dragon Dictation as an author]

My process for writing 2136 is the same that I use today for my ghostwriting. Write EVERY day, with a MINIMUM word count goal. For me, that has to be 10,000 to stay on track to complete the contracts I have, but for you, it may only be 500 words. The amount doesn’t matter so much as maintaining that daily routine and fulfilling it no matter what.

Some days it’ll take you a lifetime to finish 100 words, and others you’ll pump out 10,000 words in a few breaths. By writing every day you build and strengthen your creative muscle, which helps you on the hard days.



How My Books Are Doing Today

My approach isn’t typical. Most authors try to make a living by writing their own books and promoting them. I do write my own and promote them, but I spend the majority of my time ghostwriting for others. The reason?

I’m a math guy. I love numbers and can run equations and scenarios all day long. I actually do this on a daily basis. It drives my wife crazy! She just wants the high-level AND final numbers.

Because I’m a numbers guy and think analytically, I figured out what route would be best to achieve my goal the quickest. Remember, my goal was to go full-time writer within ten months. A lot needs to happen to be able to do that, know it’ll sustain, and prevent the fear that comes with quitting a day job when you have a family to provide for.

[Note from Nick: click here for a simple way to grow a readership for your books]

I calculated how much I would need to make each month for me to quit my day job.

Then I calculated how many books I’d need to sell to earn that. Then, I calculated how many books I’d need to sell to earn what I would be paid for writing a book for someone else.

It was a no brainer. Ghostwriting was the way to go for me. I’d have to sell several hundred to several thousand (depending on the price of the book and how many books I had out) to earn what I’d be paid to write a book for a client.

The other benefit that ghostwriting offers, other than a higher income upfront, is it allows you to hone your skill, voice, and craft all on someone else’s dime. You no longer have to write your one million words until you find your perfect voice on your own expense. Why not practice and hone your writing ability while someone else pays you to do it?

To me, that’s a WIN-WIN.



I like to keep things in perspective and real.

The downfall for ghostwriting as much as I do is that it doesn’t allow much time for writing or promoting my own books. It’s a Catch 22. You need the income to pay the bills but you need to write more books to build up a following, a platform, and a steady passive income stream for your own stuff.

So which do you choose? How do you find a balance? For me, I spend the work-day for ghostwriting and do a little each day for my stuff and use most of that time to read, attend webinars, do online courses, or watch videos to learn. But now that I have Dragon software for dictation, my time has opened up.

As I get better at it, I’ll be able to finish my ghostwriting in over half the time AND write my own stuff, all DURING the work-day, which will allow me to reach my new goals faster and spend more time with my family. It’s easy to overlook the fact that working from home as a writer was so I could spend more time with them, and yet, get caught up in the new career and spend less time with family or the ones you care about.

It’s all about balance. But the more you focus and pour into your goals (whatever it is)the sooner you achieve it.



My Self-Publishing is Growing Too.

Several of my books have become #1 Amazon bestsellers or #1 New Releases, but their earnings, while they are getting better, are nowhere near what I earn from ghostwriting.

I went from around $4,000 from the day job to about $10,000 or more each month for the ghostwriting. I don’t spend enough time in promoting my own books to reap a larger harvest, nor publish enough, quick enough.

It’s the trade-off I’ve chosen to pursue ghostwriting. It’s too prosperous and rewarding for me not to stick with it. Plus, I’ve been getting referrals for nonfiction books a lot more frequently now for big companies. I foresee my business shifting more toward writing ebooks (nonfiction) for companies, businesses, and clients, more so than fiction.

[Note from Nick: click here to read about how to grow a business from your books]

BUT…my new goal (and NEWFOUND PASSION) for this year is to create multiple online courses to help teach people what I’ve done to get here so they can do the same and exceed me. One of the new ventures is co-authoring with new writers to help them get their names out there, mentor them, and show them the ropes.

Bottom line, ghostwriting is a HUGE, untouched market, where writers, like you and I, can thrive. 

If writing books is your dream job, then how you do it doesn’t matter. Whether you make enough passive income each month from your books or you ghostwrite books for others to make a living, it doesn’t matter.

All that is important is ARE YOU DOING WHAT YOU LOVE? If not, let’s change that. Maybe my approach is the best route for you. I’d love to help.



Additional facts | dates | numbers

Full-time writer:

  • Worked full-time as Technical Writer for cPanel, Inc. from March 2, 2015 to August 25, 2017 (2 years 5 months)
  • Offered the job on March 2, 2015
  • Left the job on August 25, 2017
  • Started first post-apocalyptic book on Wattpad in August 2015.
  • Was selected as a Featured Story in December 2015 (release date was January 7, 2016) — 4 months after first chapter posted.
  • Accrued over 500,000 reads during that timeframe (it now has over 801,000).
  • Reached #2 in Science Fiction on February 13, 2016. (Wattpad has over 300,000 million stories on its platform with more than 50 million active monthly users. The Science Fiction category is one of their largest and hardest to rank in. They only show the rank of the Top 1000 in each category)

Ambassador Program – Selected in December 2015. Started training on January 12, 2016. Asked to assist the Science Fiction category when I completed training. This program assisted Wattpad in curating their hot lists, submissions, and more administrative tasks with stories.

Futures Program – Offered to join and accepted on January 18, 2017

Beta version and restricted to only Wattpad Stars and top writers. This program is for a select few of the top performing writers on Wattpad to earn income for their stories. Wattpad places ads between each chapter on your story, and every time a reader clicks or watches that short ad, you receive a portion of the proceeds from the marketers.

Wattpad Block Party Winter Edition III – February 2017

A month-long event that highlights stories written by the super stars and rising stars on Wattpad. Each writer was featured on a given day to present a sample of their writing, a short story, or something new exclusive to the event’s readers.

TNT’s horror writing contest – Top 35 Finalist – December 8, 2016

TNT hosted in conjunction with Wattpad a horror writing contest. The winner received $20,000 and a contract to produce their story on the big screen. I made it to the Top 35 Finalists.

Other contests won:

  • Fanfic Fright Day’s writing contest – October 30, 2015
  • Fanfic Thanksgiving writing contest – November 26, 2015
  • Compete to Beat: Wattpad Contests – Contest – December 15, 2015 (Honorable Mention)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awaken Fanfiction Contest – December 15, 2015
  • Fright’s holiday horror writing contest – December 23, 2015

Go in More Depth

I kept this post high-level so it wouldn’t become too lengthy (I think I failed!), but there are many more details that went into becoming a full-time writer and what that looks like. If you’d like more information or to talk with me in more depth about my process, what I did, and for me to give you pointers or guide you in your own quest, please send me a message using these details.

I’d be happy to walk you through step-by-step of what I did for each method, so you can mimic it for your own success and journey and answer questions. 


Matthew Thrush is a #1 Amazon bestselling author with more than twenty-three titles to his name; including his own and novels ghostwritten for other clients. As well as writing novels, Matthew has also worked as an Arabic Linguist & Intelligence Analyst for the United States Navy (and NSA indirectly) and written articles covering topics like love, relationships, dentistry, business, IT, and healthy & wellness.

If you’d like to learn more about Matthew’s process for Ghostwriting and how he turned it into a six-figure business, join his free Facebook group here

And now we want to hear from you: Have you had any “mindset shifts” that have helped you reach your goals? What are you working on right now to get you where you need to be? Leave a comment!

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