What does full-time mean when you write?

A well-respected literary agent put out a blog post yesterday asking the question: Are you a full-time writer? That question gave me pause. If I don’t take the time to really analyze what is being asked, my immediate answer is, of course, no. I don’t spend my entire day writing, taking a short lunch break, just to return and finish my day staring at the screen. Perhaps working at my desk through my lunch or into the evening. When I think of a full-time, desk job that’s exactly what I think of.

Is that a reasonable expectation of a full-time writer/author? I don’t know. That’s the long and short of it, I don’t know. I have, as my personal acquaintance, many wonderful, published authors in various genres. I don’t know any of them that write for 36 hours or more a week, at least most of the time. That is not to say they don’t spend hours of their days pouring over their current manuscript. Certainly, they do.

So, what other criteria could be used to enumerate what exactly full time might mean to an author? Perhaps it means that they get the majority of their personal income from writing? Well, I’ve always been told if you are writing for the income then you aren’t really a writer. Many authors continue to work a job other than writing.

If it isn’t hours and it isn’t a paycheck. Is it production? Is the mere fact of putting words on paper what makes you a full-time writer? Somehow, I don’t think so. That would mean that I could make that claim and I am hesitant to do that just yet.

If I dig to the heart of it and peel away all the layers of difference between part-time and full-time writers, I must invariably come to the conclusion that a full-time writer is just that, one who considers themselves to have attained that status. I can find no exact definition that the masses would readily agree with.

I hope to someday attain that status. In my mind, a full-time author is one who writes, yes. but also one who spends countless hours on research, in thought, traveling and editing. In my head you have attained the status of full-time writer when that is what your friends know you as, it isn’t something you hide anymore, The number of hours you put into it may be incalculable as you think about what you are working on at all hours of the day and night. New ideas fly at you from the strangest places and at inopportune times.

I have reached some, but not all of those. What are your qualifications for a full-time writer? Is that the person is published, as in they are an author so therefore they are a full-time writer?  Perhaps it is more (or less) than that? I’d love to hear your opinion.