Day job. More often than not, writers have a love-hate relationship with their full time work. Whenever I have one of those frustrating ‘argh’ moments, thinking about all the stories and poems I could be writing instead of working a nine-to-five, it helps me to read around and hear other writers thoughts on the good old day job. A recent one I read that I could definitely relate to is good to check out here.
So, what is my own advice that keeps me focusing on the creative pursuits amidst the daily grind? It all boils down to a simple list:
1. A day job keeps your writing routine structured. If you work regular hours, try to schedule writing time on your lunch break or after you get home from work. Bacon sarnie in one hand and a pen in the other sounds like time we’ll spent, don’t you think? I find that when I’m off work I tend to watch TV… there’s no structure to my day, so I get tempted to slack off!
2. A day job pays the rent. Yes, in an ideal world I would live off my writing (preferably in a beachside villa somewhere exotic!) but what is the reality of that? Since living in London, I have met many dozens of writers and poets, some quite well known, but less than a handful make a living from it. A day job means you don’t have to worry about the rent, which means your mind is free to be creative instead.
3. Day job experience can be used for characters and plot. I’ve heard some cracking conversations at work that have made for an injection of humour to a story. And what about those transferable skills? Not talking about your IT knowledge here, but rather those on-the-job details that give your writing a dash of realism.
4. A day job keeps you connected. If there are any writers like me who can often hibernate for too long with a blanket, computer and endless coffee, then at least the day job gives you that social outlet. Literary events can do this too of course, but not everyone lives in London. For those of you enjoying the country life, don’t give up the day job too soon!
5. A day job is part of your overall life balance and if you’re happy with your daytime work, you’ll have a clear mind to concentrate on your writing profession. It’s even better if you can work a writing day job (I know some people who are copy writers, or who are actors). As for me, I like to have a day job that I can leave behind at work so that I can get ready for an evening of writing an idea I’m passionate about. Something that wants to be shared with the world whether there’s money to be had, or not!