Friday Fun – The writer’s day job

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: I’ve never heard of a writer who launched a career without first enduring years of studying the craft, collecting rejections, and working all kinds of other jobs in order to pay the bills. Some writers seek out day jobs that are writing-related such as copywriting, journalism, and so on. Other writers prefer jobs that have nothing to do with writing, opting to keep their day job and dream job as separate as possible. What’s your preference and why?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I don’t know how to answer this question! In a dream world I imagined working odd jobs (bartending in particular) to pay for rent and food while working on novels. That might still transpire as I pursue my dream of living and traveling full-time in an RV.

But as it turns out, I’m a full-time business writer and any odd jobs away from it are more distracting than helpful. I guess I figured out how to answer the question! If/when I pursue a full-time fiction live, odd jobs will be welcome. Otherwise, I’ll take variety in the kind of non-fiction and business I write, but don’t want much distraction from it.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Once upon a time I believed that an aspiring author should never engage in other types of writing for fear of contaminating her creativity or otherwise handicapping her muse. I don’t believe that any longer. When I held non-writing day jobs, I feel as though my entire frame of reference – to the world and my place in it – shifted. When my mind was occupied all day with things like inventory levels, sales budgets, project coordination, and so forth, I found it difficult to transition from that logistical and analytical way of thinking into a more fluid and creative state. My current “day job” as a self-employed marcom writer at least lets me work in my preferred territory – the land of words, ideas, and stories. I may not be writing fiction, but at least I am still working on how to craft a cohesive story, hook a reader, be clear in my writing, and so forth. Although the type of writing I do for my clients is a world away from the type of writing I do for myself, I have learned that all types of writing practice are beneficial.

dll2013Deborah Lee Luskin: I’ve taught writing since 1980, to Ivy League students, elders, inmates and kids. I’ve also managed a rural medical practice, written medical copy, features, interviews and book reviews, as well as editorial columns and radio broadcasts. I’ve taught literature-based humanities programs in libraries, hospitals and prisons, given public lectures and motivational speeches. For a while, I was a leader for Weight Watchers. But all the while, my aim was to be able to write fiction full time, which is what I do now.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: Can anyone “just” do one thing and make a living these days? While the dream might be to write full time, I know that part of writing full time is marketing, blogging, book signings, etc. etc. I am very lucky in that I love my day jobs, and love my life just as it is, for the most part. The juggling act keeps me focused. I won’t be able to do it forever, and the retirement dream includes writing full time. Someplace warm. Where it doesn’t snow.

13 thoughts on “Friday Fun – The writer’s day job

  1. I’ll stick with my paycheck job. I enjoy it, but it has nothing to do with writing. It provides for me and allows me to have free time away from work. I wouldn’t mind a writing related adventure outside of that though on my days off.

  2. Writing fiction full-time would be great, but you’re right that most of us can’t do that without years of struggle. I’m currently in a marketing job that requires me to write a lot of ad copy and press releases. It’s not creative writing, but it keeps me practicing my word choice, sentence structure and grammar, which is helpful when I get back to my personal writing.

  3. To be honest, my day job is actually a night job which leaves me with much time on my hands to view the writings of others and to do some of my own. I do it not for the aspect of making money but as a need to relax and show off my grandchildren. It is a great stress reliever for me. It is an enjoyment of time well spent instead of watching the TV and being dumb down by its programming. More people should reach for creativity for the rewards are so more appealing in the end.

  4. I saved up money so I could take a year off to write. I moved somewhere cheaper, downscaled and now spend my days writing like my pen is on fire. Writing takes time, energy, inspiration, you know what I’m talking about. After 8 hours in the office and 2 hours commuting everyday I just didn’t have it in my to sit down and pour out a masterpiece.
    I have never looked back and will continue to do this for as long as I can.

  5. Study the environment you’re working in. Let your imagination be sparked with inspiration to create new characters, new situations, and funny comments. Things you might not think of writing at home.

  6. I’ve been working odd jobs while freelancing, hoping I could pick up enough freelancing work to support myself. Now that’s a dream! I would love full time work writing anything. I feel that its better to be writing than not, and I know that at the end of a long day at work my brain is just as tired as my feet and I’m not as creative.

  7. As much as I’d like my writing to be a day job I wouldn’t want anyone else governing my writing other than myself and my editors. It would turn writing into a tedious chore and ultimately make me not want to do it in the way I want as much or as often. Ideally, it would be awesome to get paid to write whatever I want every day and be self employed that way but for now I think having a job unrelated is more beneficial.

  8. I’m an editor at a technical magazine that covers the aluminum industry — not a subject I’d ever have imagined getting into, but now I love it. The industry is fascinating and I enjoy being able to visit industrial plants around the world.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever stop having a day job. It provides a certain amount of structure for me work around and actually can feed my desire to write fiction and poetry. But it would be nice to be able to cut back on the hours and make my day job a part time job.

  9. Writing came back when i started running our Council’s newsletter and maintaining the blogsite. i need to go back to some materials I have written some years back and be refreshed now that I have closed our printing business.

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