@Claire Zulkey I'm on the same page as you. I've probably written 15-20 magazine pieces over the last year, and made around $5,000 all together. I write at nights and on the weekends. Were this my full-time job, I would be miserable. As it stands, when the checks come, the money is gravy, "mad money," whatever. The cherry on top. (And it takes forever for the checks to come - that's something this discussion should have covered, cash flow issues for freelancers.) My quality of life is MUCH better with a full-time job that is mercifully unrelated to journalism, and I presume that rubs off on my writing.
No such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices.
I hear you, Bethlehem, as I was recently in a similar position. I lost my (poorly paying, but high status) job as an editor for a great publication after a couple of years, and after filing for unemployment and lamenting my sad state for a few days, I had a choice to make: seek another low- to mid-level editorial position, become a "freelance writer" somehow, or go for a big reset. I chose the last option. I'd always been interested in cities, had a good head for numbers, and after two years of grad school, took a job in real estate consulting. Meanwhile, I maintained my contacts with a couple of publications I'd freelanced for when I worked full-time as an editor.
The result has been better than I could have expected. My "day job" works a part of my brain than never got worked as an editor, and puts me in touch with a whole ecosystem of professionals from whom I've learned a lot. I still contribute one or two articles a month to a couple of magazines, usually writing on the weekends and at nights. I find that my writing is better, since I can focus more clearly on a single assignment, and the money (when it comes, months later) is more of a cherry on top — call it "mad money" — than something I need RIGHT NOW to pay the rent.
To that end I would encourage you to do two things, both of which have helped me greatly and neither of which was particularly intuitive for me. One, consider yourself a writer no matter your day job (or lack thereof). Writing requires no money or professional licensure, only a little bit of time. My new gig has inspired so many ideas - for books, journal articles, etc. - that I never would have had otherwise, and I hope to see some of them through. Sure, I don't tell people I'm a writer at parties, but that's okay, those people don't need to know anyway. Second, try not to characterize office jobs along a fake scale of "accounting" to "advertising" as if one were inherently more creative and inspiring than the other. It's really about one's own preferences, and I know many people who find "soulless" number-crunching to be intellectually stimulating in a way that, say, writing copy would not be. For them. Not you.
For me, there was freedom to be gained by earning a more comfortable wage, getting paid on time, and working within an organization and profession that allows upward advancement. It left the remaining hours of my days and weeks a little less fraught and panicked, gave me a bit more balance, and allowed me to plan for life in 5, 10, 20 years. This has only helped my writing and my self-definition as a writer.