DAY JOBS FOR WRITERS

If I won the lotto, I would squirrel the money away and never work a day job ever again.

I haven’t won yet, so instead I’ve been searching for a day job to compliment my writing. One that pays the bills and allows me the time and energy to use for my writing projects. It’s only over the last few days that I’ve begun to understand what this actually means to me and I thought it might help other writers.

This is what I need from a day job to keep myself going financially and creatively:
1. Something unfullfilling.
What I mean is something that I won’t get emotionally involved with or that will creep into my dreams at night.
2. Something with no take-home work or overtime.
I’m not looking to climb corporate ladders here. It’s not worth it.
3. Something different to my writing routine at home.
Ideally, I would do something that doesn’t have me sitting in front of a computer but this is rarely the case. I like to keep the day job and my personal aspirations separate.

‘Yeah, yeah’, you say. ‘But what kind of job is that?’ It’s different for everyone depending on their skills but for me, it’s short term office temping. I like the freedom of short contracts. I like that I can save for a few weeks and have a few weeks off for my writing. I can decide to go on holiday without begging my boss or co-workers and if I found myself in a really negative workplace, I’d call my agency and bow out gracefully.

No, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s plenty of temping agencies that hate my stubborn ideas on work/life balance and can’t understand that I don’t want to work all the time. It’s also taken time to adjust to living on a lower and (honestly) uncertain paycheck. It has been worth it though. My writing has improved so quickly and I enjoy every time I sit down to write as opposed to stressing about how little time I have.

I would really like to hear other people’s stories and opinions on this because my ‘day job’ won’t work for many writers. (To give some perspective for those glaring at this post with green eyes, I’ve got no kids or mortgage and I’m from that pesky generation that ditches a ‘career’ to go backpacking in Europe.) Has anyone else found a good day job to compliment their writing? Or if you work full time, how do you manage your writing projects?

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7 thoughts on “DAY JOBS FOR WRITERS

  1. Hah! If only I had the answers on that one…
    You’re so right about finding a job that’s not too ‘needy’. I’m currently working less paid hours than I have done EVER,in a job that’s less mentally draining than any other I’ve had, but finding it hard to get into a routine for writing – mainly because other (important) stuff has got in the way. At the moment I work as a Lunchtime Supervisor at the local school, and I hate it because, sandwiched between dropping my youngest at school and picking him up, it breaks up my day into chunks that are just the wrong size to get anything useful done. I love Fridays because that’s my day off, although occasionally I work all day supply at a special needs school then.
    Next week I have an interview for two mornings a week at a pre-school, and if I get it I’ll ditch at least one of my lunchtime shifts, which will be bliss. Hopefully this will be the ideal combination to make more money (which is not essential,though handy, financially, but vital psychologically), whilst having time for writing, decorating my house, and being there for my parents when they need me, as my Dad has cancer. It will fit in with school holidays and there are no travel or childcare expenses. Yay! As for the degree I’m halfway through – I’ve bowed out for this year. Next year, who knows.
    So yes, I have kids (2), a mortgage (just one, thank God, oh and a husband (only 1 because I haven’t seen Ewan McGregor to ask him yet, and proposing by letter seems so impersonal).

  2. Hi, Kathleen. I worked on and off as an office temp (primarily as an Executive Assistant) between 1988 up until early last year.
    I don’t like the insecurity of casual work, nor the tedious nature of the work, and my longevity at temping actually works against me now; it doesn’t look good on my CV, despite my MA. People wonder why you’d want to do that — ie not have a steady job. Often, it hasn’t been a matter of choice.
    Like you, I need a day job, and will be looking for another once once my freelance social media writer/editor at APN finishes up in a few weeks.
    I’ve enjoyed working from home (much better than travelling three hours a day to get to and from Brisbane’s CBD in rush hour), but I need a secure job now — one that will be ongoing.
    All the best with your job hunt!
    Joanna :))

  3. Thanks, LOL.
    It would be great if you could share your opinion on Mortal Instruments – that series has passed my daughter and I by, but we saw an advert for number 3 and we’re intrigued. Let us know if they’re worth a read! :-)

    I also wondered if either you or any friends had experience of writing for ‘book packagers’, such as WorkingPartnersLtd? I know the company and others like it are hugely successful, but I’ve heard the odd note of caution. It was written up in a writing mag as a good way to break into children’s fiction, and I was curious… ;-)

  4. I meant to reply to this post a while ago. I know exactly what you mean about the 3 things you need from a job to fit in with your creative life. So true for me too. I remember when I used to think the only thing you needed was time, and was wondering why I was struggling to write on weekends. But you also need head space, and when I was a children’s counsellor working with kids with cancer and in child protection, and I had no room left in my head for my stories. Obviously my situation now is very different and I’m fortunate enough to be able to write/illustrate full time, but like you I don’t have kids or other commitments to worry about.

    So glad to hear you’re slowly figuring out how to fit paid work in with your writing. I’d hate to think of you going back to all consuming full time work…

  5. @Writeousindignation – Just saw on your blog that you got the job. Yays! Hope it goes well for you. I don’t know anything about writing book packagers etc but you have given me an idea for a future post :) Also Mortal Instruments is fun and worth the read.

    @joanna – it’s probably about finding whatever you’re comfortable with. Although, maybe one day none of us will need day jobs *cheeky grin*

    @kath – thanks girl. I’m always slow in figuring these things out. Every time I ignore my instincts I get myself into trouble. I couldn’t go back to full time, I love having room in my head for my stories and daydreams :)

  6. Pingback: WRITING ROUTINES FOR FULL-TIME SUCKERS « Kathleen Noud

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