Sunday, March 13, 2011

Until You Become The Next Stephen King...

Office Rescue

... or Danielle Steele...

Many of us believe that we are destined to become world famous and financially secure novelists. I say, keep aiming for that goal. It is better to aim high and miss, than shoot low and make it. But until that day comes, what should you do about one of those things in the way, The JOB?

Excuse Editor Tip: The Day Job Is Valuable to the Night Writer

The J.O.B.

It's the place you have to go, because you haven't written THE great American novel yet, or you have, and it just isn't selling like it should. Yet. So. You have a job.

If you think you don't like your job, use that as inspiration to work harder on your writing when you have the chance. Oh, that reminds me. You do have the chance to write! That may be related to the job you have. Try and re-frame your dislike into gratefulness. Part of the reason you can write is because you are not spending your time looking for employment or worrying that you don't have income. Not having to worry about how to pay the bills can unleash boundless creativity.

"Yeah, but..." I'm sure that there's some reasons you have trouble being grateful for your job. Long hours, crazy customers, overly critical bosses, stressful commute, low pay... Are you kidding? This is a treasure chest of writing opportunities, this so-called job. The next time you are getting scolded over the phone, use your mad skills to help the customer, and then create a character sketch for your next villain. After all, you already know what he sounds like. Also, if you can step back and visualize any difficult working situation as a scene from a novel, you may be able to reduce the stress of the moment. You are a creative person, start believing that the struggles are being sent your way not to harm you, but to show you a new dynamic about conflict. After all, every story needs conflict.

And that "low pay"? Well, that's just training for the writing life. Remember, this post is about that time BEFORE you are successful as Stephen King or the other 9 best paid authors. These writers didn't use their day jobs or other excuses not to write. We can be grown-ups, with responsibilities, and still work toward our dreams. If your current pay is getting in the way of your writing, look at where your money is going. Set a budget. Does your dream and your writing life mean enough to you to cut back on something? Maybe you eat out less, or visit the mall just for special occasion needs... You should be home writing anyway, or at least spending your money on tools to keep your writing dream alive.

If writing is already part of your day job, focus on the "writing" instead of the "job". You may be a fantasy writer at night, but by day you write owner's manuals. Think of it as warming up your punctuation, editing and other technical skills. Other writers need to take their "personal" writing time to practice this part of writing. If you write newsletters or blogs for others, think of how the subject matter could be transformed to fit your own work. For example, if you are writing about the care patients receive at the hospital you write a newsletter for, be inspired to research what would happen to your character at a hospital 100 years from now. Or 100 years ago.

I hope you will be able to walk into your job tomorrow with a new perspective--one that views it as beneficial to your writing life, not as an excuse to keep you away from your writing goals.

Happy Working and Writing!

Has your day job inspired your writing? Has your writing inspired your day job?

(Note to my day job bosses: I would never write about y'all. Really.)
(Note to my readers: I live in Texas. I received the right to "ya'll" with my driver's license.)

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