This is a question that lovers of the pen ask all of the time. For many writers, being able to express themselves using the written word is as necessary as breathing. I sincerely believe that all knowledge and experience is meant to be shared and writing is an effective outlet for doing so. But, how can we take what we love to do and get paid to do it?
Let me say first of all that the most consistent piece of advice I have ever heard about making a living from writing is: Don't quit your day job. And if you don't have one, then get one. If possible, choose a profession that will feed your writing. Non-fiction writers probably have an easier time achieving this scenario because their education and careers are their platforms. They write about their areas of expertise. A fiction writer, however, may draw inspiration in more indirect ways. Consider a defense attorney who is a budding children's writer. She might coach a little league team, be a scout den mother, or volunteer at her children's school. Maybe the stories she writes have underlying lessons about the importance of making good decisions and deciding to do the right thing in the face of adversity. The key is to use everyday life experiences to generate story ideas.
Once you can pay your bills, diversify your sources of income using your writing skills. If you have a great eye for detail, consider freelance editing, proofreading, or copy editing. Contribute to other blog sites by selling web content. Consider self-publishing an e-book on subjects related to your author platform. (For example, a romance writer might write a niche book on dating after divorce or the loss of a spouse.) Most importantly continue to work on your own projects. All of your side jobs will build your author platform, but eventually you will have to produce a finished manuscript for publication to somebody.
Who knows? You might become the next big thing in the publishing world. But until that time arrives, resist the urge to place all of your eggs in one basket. Create a balanced plan, be consistent, be patient, and keep writing!
Keep your pen to the paper! Remember, inspiration is everywhere...