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I HATE MY DAY JOB

Virtually every day in the WWF chatroom a writer kicks the cyber garbage can as they exit the room.  Why? Because they need to stop working on their WIP and head to the job that pays their bills. I empathize with them, because for more than a decade I felt the same exact way. I hated stopping in mid-page and heading out the door.

I know when I started out that I had this vision of spending my days staying home, working at my passion. I’d be there to greet the kids when they arrived home from school. The odor of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies would fill the air, and blue birds would sing from my window sill. I worked every free second I had learning craft and getting the stories out of my head onto the page in order to make my dream come true.  I was stressed a lot. That dream, and the stress it caused, didn’t go away easily. In fact, I still feel it clinging on in the back of my mind.

The reality of it is, while writing is our passion, writing for publication in order to make your babies your main source of income is damn hard work. That hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. The term ‘Starving artist’ doesn’t just refer to painters, sculptors and musicians.

While I hosted my dream, I met other writers who I deemed successful and thought lived my fantasy. I learned later that they worked other jobs, and they still do.  I would’ve saved myself a lot of stress, which, if you haven’t heard, is harmful to your health, if I had listened closer to them.  This business is tough, and even if you have a great talent, getting discovered by readers gets harder every single day.  It was that way a decade ago, and it remains a fact today.

I didn’t write this blog to discourage anyone. In fact, I hope to encourage you, and to help you relieve the stress you might feel.  Anyone could be writing the next big seller. Anyone! A first-time published author or someone who has written fifty books. So please continue putting your hearts into your work.

Enjoy your second job. Second job, meaning the one that pays the bills. It provides friends as well as financial security. (Less stress.) It also allows you to interact with other people. Story ideas come from our interactions with others. Our characters become real because we listen (dialogue) and watch (body language) others. We place our readers in convincing settings because we’ve actually felt the sun or rain on our faces.

Don’t worry what other writers are doing. Do what is right for you and your family. So it takes you longer to write a book. Your book could be the next big thing and for years you could live off the royalties until…  The world embraces the next great thing.

Stop kicking the cyber garbage can and enjoy your passions.

BTW, this author, after years working as a corporate secretary and raising four children while writing her first seven published works, stills works part-time and spends most of her wages on her grandchildren.   

39 responses to “I HATE MY DAY JOB”

  1. Julia Day says:

    This!

    I have a part-time job, and I love it–for all the reasons you list and more. It’s a steady paycheck; there will be a deposit I can count on at the end of the month. It has benefits. My co-workers are nice and interesting. And the work is completely different. I am using a different part of the brain–which is a good thing! Since I work in the software industry, technology creeps into all of my books, and no research necessary.

    Also, because they know I’m a writer, I’ve become the “editor” for everything. “Help me fix this.” I don’t think they realize have different technical editing is from writing fiction–but I’m help (’cause geeks are not known for the writing clarity 🙂 But I don’t mind, because learning how to fix someone else’s writing hones my skills are fixing my own.

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    • And I promise, I edit better than this at work 🙁

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    • My part time job is something I never ever thought I would do, a Pharmacy Tech. It’s totally different than working as a corporate secretary for a large transportation company. I don’t have people coming to me to edit their work now, or should I say yet, but I was the to go person to write letters to government agencies, clients, and vendors, so I know what you mean. People really don’t know that you use a different side of the brain to write fiction. To them, writing is writing.

      Maybe the advantages of working while working at our passions was discussed way back then and I just ignored it as poppycock.

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    • joan ramirez says:

      I like what Autumn Jordan wrote. I have a p/t job as an elementary school teacher where I give workshops in ESL. I adore the kids. They inspire me. However, writing is what gets me up in the morning. I’m crafting four novels and while I sometimes want to tear my hair out dealing with publication issues, I’m living my dream. Thanks, Autumn, for telling me to follow my own path.I’d love to hear other thoughts.

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  2. Lenee Anderson says:

    I feel like you wrote this specifically for me!
    When I’m really in the groove, there’s nothing I resent more than going to work.
    But, because my job is so physical, when I’m stuck on something, sometimes that getting up to move and those boring repetitive actions loosing things up in my head.
    Not to mention that I listen to audiobooks the whole time, so when I’m not writing, I’m reading!

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    • You’re on the right path, girl. I classify reading or listening to books as studying craft.

      And you are so right about getting up and moving. It does help the muse. Sometimes I write standing at my kitchen counter.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I wish my day job was a bit more physical (aside from walking around my classroom, I mean).

      Both jobs require a bit too much staring at papers and screens, deciphering or writing words. I get nerve damage in my fingertips sometimes from all the keyboarding.

      But I do love my students, and all the different personality types I interact with. Good training for understanding the human psyche, for sure.

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  3. I’ve had to take day jobs numerous times over the years, but for me the trick is to remind myself that day jobs don’t represent failure. They just represent the needs of the moment.

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  4. Alyssa Henderson says:

    OMG Did you write this just for me, Autumn? This is something I struggle with more and more as my writing world expands. I do a lot of technical writing in my day job and it sooo clashes with the creative side of my brain. And people just don’t get it. Ugh. Thank you so much for your post!!!

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  5. Tamara Hogan says:

    Thanks for writing this, Autumn!

    Confession time: I was a more productive writer (manuscript-wise) before I quit my day job to write full time than I am now! Oddly, having time constraints for when I could write resulted in a higher level of productivity than what I currently experience. You never write as much as you think you’re going to. 🙂

    Ruby sisters Lizzie Shane, Sara Ramsey and Kim Law did a great workshop at RWA17 about the pros, cons, and surprises each experienced as full-time writers. The recording’s definitely worth a listen!

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    • Why did we loose time when we left our jobs, Tammy? Strange.

      I hope you find your focus soon. I know I became more focus this year working with others in the chatroom. You might join us and see if that helps you.

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    • Yes, this.

      Emergencies aside, I’m always more productive when I’m working than during breaks. I think that having to budget out writing times makes me go into it with a more professional mindset.

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  6. Amen to this, Autumn. 🙂 While my “day job” is actually that of a stay-at-home mother and housewife, I sometimes actually long for a job that gets me out of the house. I miss that connection with other people, and have found that when I get out a couple times a week (a.k.a., work at a coffee shop or go run errands), I get a creative boost from it.

    And you’re right. Dreams can put such pressure and stress on us. Sometimes, dreaming little (realistically) helps. Such as when I dream of going on a writer’s retreat or just out to get a cup of coffee and write.

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    • Full time mother is a huge job. Honestly, I don’t know how you do it. Remember to set time for you and your dreams. And boundaries for family members during those times. It’ so important to your mental health.

      Great point! Setting realistic dreams/goals is very important. Make small and doable, at first, like writing first a scene or chapter and get feedback. Then move on to the book and then books. Each time your achieve a goal, reward yourself for a job well done.

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  7. Paula Huffman says:

    Thank you so much for this post, Autumn! I was having a little pity party this morning because I wanted to sprint with Darynda Jones today, (she mentored me through a contest last year and I was looking forward to catching up), but I have gate duty for an athletic event at school the exact hours she’s manning the chat room. Your post made me realize I love my “day job,” even though it does sometimes get in the way of writing. I write YA, so being with young people all day keeps me in touch with their lives and their interests, as well as the challenges they face in today’s word. They give me inspiration and direction, and they help me keep it real. My day job is a good thing. Thank you for making me remember!

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    • D is wonderful, isn’t she. You’re so very luckily to have her a mentor. I just love her.

      We have many wonderful Rubies and sprinters working each day in the chatroom. Sometimes we share a problem and those their offer advice. Wednesday night we’re also hosting plotting help. It’s always a lot of fun, besides being helpful. Join us.

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      • Paula Huffman says:

        Thank you, Autumn! Yes, D. is wonderful! She was a great help. Everyone I’ve met through WWF has also been wonderful! I will do my best to be there Wednesday evening, and I plan to participate in other sprints and chats, too.

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  8. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    So, so spot on…writing is very hard work. I really have a hard time sometimes & do think if I had more time constraints, I might be a little more productive.

    Thanks for the post, Autumn!

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  9. Panthera says:

    I so agree. Many years ago, something devastating happened at work. It was this that started me writing. There was no other way for me to cope with the strong emotions running through me at the time.

    Up until that point, I told stories of all kinds, and related things in a way people were always saying I should write a book but I would laugh and say “Me? I can’t write.”

    Now, I write. No, I haven’t published anything and most of the time I am torn as to whether I am writing to publish or just for me. Either way, I have learned a lot over the years. Even more since I became disabled and was told I would never work again.

    The most important thing I learned was interaction not isolation was where I got my best ideas.

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    • I love this. I love that you’re writing for yourself. I truly believe you need to do that. You need to love what you’re writing in order for readers to connect with you. Kudos to you.

      Maybe one day you will publish something. When you do, I want you to let me know because I can hear your heart in your words here. (((HUGS)))

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    • Panthera, it was nice chatting with you in the chat rooms today. I’ve missed the connection with writers who are at all levels of knowledge and skill. I needed the reminder of getting in there to help and brainstorm. It’s been missing from my writer’s life lately. Glad you got those 500 words down today!

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  10. Darynda Jones says:

    Hear! Hear!

    So, yeah, when I was about to quit my day job (AT LAST!), I was so excited. I was scared, too, but excited. But my agent warned me. She said that writers actually become less productive when they quit their day jobs. I didn’t believe her. Boy, was that a mistake. She was absolutely, 100% right.

    Even right now, anyone reading this is thinking, “Yeah, maybe for you, but I would never be that way. I’d be so much more productive if I didn’t have this other job hanging over my head.”

    Let me just say, don’t be so sure. I thought the same thing. I never thought I would have actually been more productive a writer working a full-time job. I was wrong. So, so wrong.

    And fodder! You are so right, AJ, The fodder for writers in the workplace is priceless. I miss it.

    Great post!

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    • D, Haven’t we heard this from many of our Ruby sisters? It’s a mystery, right?

      At some point, we break and speak out about our lack of focus. That’s when our sisters step up and nudge back on track.

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    • I think like it was mentioned above, that now that you have MORE time to write, the drive to fit it into a certain time frame is gone. I’ve switched from the EDJ (Evil Day Job) to a teaching position. While it definitely sucks more energy, I get longer uninterrupted stretches where I can write and focus on publishing. But, during the summer, I do find I am LESS productive with the entire, empty day looming in front of me.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I wish, though, that I could cut my day job in half.

      I’m just too exhausted by it most nights to come home and write (and also I spend an awful lot of my nights and weekends grading…or helping my ADD kid get his homework done).

      Maybe when both kids are out of college, I can switch to part time. (ADD kid is in 8th grade, so it’ll be awhile.)

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      • God bless you for the work you do, lady. Most of us know how it is to be fried at the end of day. Maybe try writing in the morning. Just a half hour can lift your writer’s soul. But don’t kick the can on the way out.

        BTW Four or five years might seem like a long time, but it really isn’t. Enjoy those girls while they’re home.

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  11. Really enjoyed this post, Autumn. It’s already making me feel a little less stressed!

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  12. A lot of good asvice here for beginners and veterans. just what I needed today.

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  13. Addison Fox says:

    I love this post, AJ!!! It’s SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO spot on!!! There are a ton of things I complain about my day job, but there is a silver lining in there as well. The job security/steady paycheck takes a huge load and pressure off the creative side of my life. And it does force productivity in smaller bursts which leads to more consistent – even if it’s not as lengthy – output.

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    • Thank you Addison. Consistent output is the key. That is why I have loved that some of us continued working in the chatroom this past year. The short times spent there upped my production. I wrote and released a novelette, a contemporary romance and I’m now finishing up a romantic mystery. All in the span of a year. Before it was a book a year or so. I do love my chatroom ladies.

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  14. Jo Jackson says:

    I do love my job (preschool teaching is never EVER dull!) which I know makes me very lucky but I would love to have more time for writing, if I could.
    It is true that the constraints I have on my time mean I have to be super productive when I managed to get sat down with my WIP and I do work better under pressure.
    As long as the words get on the page in the end, that’s the main thing, right?

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