My last post about my current work situation, which is still pretty messed up, but it wasn’t really focused on the ups and downs of being a writer and the need of a day job. There is a myth that if you only had enough time you would be able to get your next book done and that book will bring an end the day job.
It is a myth. Not sure a dream.
The idea of being a writer who is able to rely on their works as your only source of income is both a fantasy and a nightmare. A fantasy because many of us firmly believe that if we just had more time to write then we would be able to accomplish our goals. John Green, the author of Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, found that more time he had the less productive he was at first. Eventually, he found a community of people who helped provide him with the interactions he needed.
To make money as a writer, you have to write. Write, edit, publish repeat. It is easy and nearly impossible all at the same time. Yet, people do it. Just not as many as you may think do it without a day job.
Writers have to hustle to make a living. They don’t just spend their days on their next great novel. They are writing articles, critiquing movies and play and generally doing whatever they need to keep a roof over their heads. Most don’t write full time at least not in the way we like to think they do.
They bust their fingers day and night to make things happened for themselves and their families. They write for magazines, blogs and any outlet that they can. They do talks, pick up gigs here and there and I am sure more than a few can be found behind the wheel driving for Uber. They update their Patreon page and communicate with readers. (Engaged readers are more likely to become fans. Fans buy your books and tell their friends.) They create their stories late at night and in the moments in between whatever they have to do to put food on the table.
In the next couple of weeks or months depending on how it goes, I will be looking for a new day job. I can’t live without it. I need insurance and having rent money is a necessity as well. I will dream of not going back to work after the summer. Dream of spending my days at my writing desk and three hour workouts. Although, truthfully when I have a lot of time to myself I don’t get much writing done. I am, however, willing to try and see what happens provided I win the lottery or my book gets a mega movie deal.
In the meantime, I am going to work harder at making the time I do have count and use my day job as inspiration for my writing. There are numerous characters rambling around my school everyday begging to find their way on to the pages of my next book.
A day job doesn’t need to be a hindrance. Use it as a source for your next work. Write what you know. Take inspiration from all around you.
And as always keep writing.
4 thoughts on “The Writer and the Day Job Myth”
I agree with all of it. We just have to focus on getting the words in and see how it turns out and then keep churning out the books. Eventually, hopefully, one will stick.
Exactly!! Great to meet you.
So very well put.
I’d like to add that a writer is someone who has to write. It’s like breathing. They must write as part of their basic survival. Just because writing doesn’t pay all those pesky bills, does not make someone less of a writer.
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Great point. I think a lot of us struggle with being a “real writer”. We let others define us.