Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

How do you make your job work for your writing? (1 Viewer)

Ajoy

Senior Member
If you have a day job (or if you used to have a day job), how do you make it work for your writing? (Inspiration, research, time to daydream, etc...). For those of us who have not reached the glorious days of retirement (I already can't wait.) :) , how do you follow those dreams of writing while still paying the bills?

I've been a grade school teacher for about 15 years now and have wanted to be a writer during pretty much all of that time. I do love my job, but it is extremely fast paced, busy, and saps both my mental and creative energy on a daily basis. I try to work on some element of my writing every night anyway, but sometimes I don't have it in me because of how sapped my brain is after the day. But here are some of the advantages and ways I make writing work while having my day job:

-I pretend like writing is my second job and basically put in full work days on the weekends when my mental and creative energy is better.
-I am lucky enough to have the summers off, so I treat writing like my summer job as well, again, putting in full work days of writing all summer.
-Over the years, I have written dozens of stories and essays that I have used to teach writing/drafting/revision to my 10-12 year old students.
-I often daydream a lot about my current WIPs on my rides to and from work.
-I believe that the skills of my job also help me become a better writer because I am very practiced in tracking and juggling infinite details and taking things like lesson plans from the idea phase to the teaching phase and then revising it all after seeing what did and did not work well.

As much as I love teaching, I really do look forward to the day that I can write full time (15ish years and counting)!
 

KatPC

Senior Member
@Ajoy I work full time too, 6 days at the moment, but hopefully my worker can come back to help in November and then I can trim my week to 5 days every other week.

I write whenever I can. When I wake up, when I finish work, to chase the dream of having my novel out. It needs work, lots of TLC and editing, but I hope one day, I can visit friends, strangers maybe, and find my book on their shelf, with my name, that would be wonderful.

I'm very much like yourself, I don't daydream as such, but I let the mind develop stories I have in my head. Usually I have about 3 or 4 short stories bubbling at a time. Most of the time I just leave them sitting in the mind, let them brew a while whilst I figure out my current story. In my creative spurts (I'm in the midst of one at the moment) the stories keeps knocking, even when I haven't finished writing the last. I worry that should I reach retirement age, I will have too much time and I end up creating waffle and becoming hyper critical, so I actually prefer this mad rushed lifestyle, chasing something, finding time, even if it is 20 minutes.

It's fun though. I wrote 4 shorts in 8 weeks which I don't think is too bad. Three I think are good, the other one needs re-configuring but I'm going to stop my creative spurt, I need to focus on my drafting, it's so bad, but it is fun, part of the journey I guess.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
I get a lot of windshield time, and I use it to work out dialogue scenes.
Otherwise, I get up at 0400 to start writing.
My writing gets my top-shelf brain power, and work gets whatever is left over.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
I was lucky to have a somewhat different kind of 9-to-5 job – there were tasks that needed to be completed by their respective deadlines, but the when was up to me. I could even get away with not spending the entire worktime in the office, unless I really pushed my luck. Then again, whenever I had to stay longer in the evening to get things done on time, it was my own problem. No one to complain to.

The point is, I occasionally even found time to do some creative writing at the office. It was difficult to write actual text, because they rarely let me think in peace. But I was able to write down ideas and such. When I walk on the street going somewhere, it often happens that I imagine my characters talking to each other and such. Strangely enough, they often do it in English. :)

It's great that you can teach writing to your students. It's undoubtedly helping a lot to make your own writing increasingly better.

To enhance your (physical and mental) energy, I would recommend the exercises from "The Way of Energy" by Lam Kam Chuen. Unfortunately, they require some time alone and undisturbed, so you'll have to decide yourself whether or not it's worth it.
 
Last edited:

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Retired Silicon Valley Engineer here... I did write several novels back in the1980's, and even landed an agent but didn't achieve a publishing deal; back then self publishing wasn't feasible. For most of my career I was running on two or three hours of sleep a night, commuting two hours to work after dropping the kids off at school/daycare, then a half-hour commute home after 3am. Lather, rinse, repeat for several decades.

My books were written during a brief period where I was working for the DOD - the government grants A LOT more time off than commercial companies do.

I view writing as an art form, and thusly don't do it with the belief that I'll become the next Michael Crichton or Stephen King. I do it because I have stories to tell and enjoy telling them - if I make money on them that's great, but that isn't my goal, which is to entertain.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I view writing as an art form, and thusly don't do it with the belief that I'll become the next Michael Crichton or Stephen King. I do it because I have stories to tell and enjoy telling them - if I make money on them that's great, but that isn't my goal, which is to entertain.
I think that is just wonderful and very inspiring! I am so thrilled to be working towards being part of the entertainment industry. I can't imagine anything about writing that would be more satisfying than someone saying, "I loved your book."

BTW, I loved your book, The Dark Side of Joy. Is that one of the ones you wrote in the 80s?
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I think that is just wonderful and very inspiring! I am so thrilled to be working towards being part of the entertainment industry. I can't imagine anything about writing that would be more satisfying than someone saying, "I loved your book."

BTW, I loved your book, The Dark Side of Joy. Is that one of the ones you wrote in the 80s?
Thanks - I greatly appreciate that.
But no - Dark Side of Joy was written after I retired (~2015-16). My five horror novels from the 80's:
  • Fade to White
  • Eyes of the Beast
  • Dark Passage
  • Harpies of Moytura
  • Heart of the Hunter
Are virtually trunked on a ZIP drive that's on a shelf in my office. I'm kinda afraid to un-archive it; I was into Horror back then, and have since left that phase behind.

I'm glad you enjoyed DSOJ - I wrote it during a period of time when people were complaining about children of illegal immigrants being detained in 'cages'; it was about how that sort of thing happens all the time to kids whose parents are criminals, as mine were. The novel was an autobiography about what happened to me after my parents were arrested. I was ostracized by friends, placed in Juvenile Hall, endured horrific foster care, and finally lived on the street. I took some fictional license in the writing, but most of the story is true.

When I finished DSOJ I thought that was the end of my writing, but then someone asked what happened next. That comment really stoked the coals for me, and I wrote The Last Dragon to answer the 'what happened next' question, and that provided the momentum for me to tackle the Extinction Series, and all that's followed since.

Generally speaking, I write to entertain, the more people that find my work, the better. My books tend to fall outside the high paying genres, but again, that's ok.
 

KeganThompson

Staff member
Board Moderator
My job isn't hard but its boring. Sometimes I get super busy, but for the most part its slow or steady. I have written at work before but I usually don't. I just hang out on the forum lol I do have a notebook I write ideas down though.
But I'm lucky I got a 9 to 5 that doesn't zap my energy but now I got a social life, which i'm still getting use to lol
So it takes a bit of planning when I write during the week. :)
 

Riptide

WF Veterans
Actually, I just had a discussion similar to this with my bf, and myself, wondering why I was studying up on computer courses when I want to become a full time author. Sure, I'm making a pretty penny in the IT field... but I have loads of free time, and I thought I was wasting company time by doing anything that wasn't computer related. But, I've now since decided that I should use this free time to benefit myself and my goals, by writing during work.

I do have an hour and a half drive to and from work every day that I've used to listen to audio books/day dream. That's been helpful, but I've been way too tired to do much writing when I get home. Usually I've been mindlessly playing video games and occasionally going to the gym, so me writing at work will for sure benefit my goals.

Wish I could get up at 4 like Ralph. Now that would be something. But, sadly, I love my sleep and I have to sacrifice so much of it for that hour drive already
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I've run my own businesses since 1982, which in theory means I don't have a boss looking over my shoulder to see what I'm doing, but in reality means my boss is with me 24/7. :) My advantage vis a vis writing is my business no longer takes all my time. My main line is an eCommerce system which my business partner sells and does most of the ongoing support on. My side is to set it up for new clients and write customizations or new features when needed. Years ago that was more than a full-time activity, but now that the software is mature, I may sometimes go days between necessary commitments. Gives me more time to write ... and time to do Supervisor things around here. LOL
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I'm a retired CPA that does some consulting for the Ministry of Finance and the Big Four. I specialize in professional ethics, and that has not only been a great source of inspiration, it also allows me to get offered the choice contracts. Hence, I only take work that interests me, so it's not too onerous. BUT, when the contracts are in progress, they take the front seat, which means my writing productivity slows down or stops for a short period. However, so far I have met my writing goals for 2020 and 2021. The money is nice, but, I mostly do the consulting work to stay in touch with my profession. I meet interesting financial folks and often they become interested in my novel as it is based on a real New York Stock Exchange case. So, I'm building up a relevant mailing list for the launch of the first book.

For the next book, I will be basing it on a very large case that I was tasked with studying in-depth, so I could develop training for banking regulators. It was a huge project, eight years ago, and I never thought I'd be writing about it. I just started on my outline and it's all coming back. Yes, jobs can be a valuable resource.

-I believe that the skills of my job also help me become a better writer because I am very practiced in tracking and juggling infinite details and taking things like lesson plans from the idea phase to the teaching phase and then revising it all after seeing what did and did not work well.
Absolutely, these are transferable skills! Having completed numerous large audits that have taken 2-3 years, I have learned how to slowly piece together ideas and to have the patience to work on something when the whole picture is not yet apparent. And to keep an open mind while uncovering new information. I feel like I managed my novel like I would manage an audit.

As much as I love teaching, I really do look forward to the day that I can write full time (15ish years and counting)!
It will go by faster than you think! I thought about my book for about 10 years before I retired. It was such a great thing to look forward to and gave me a new purpose to retire happily writing.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
@Ajoy

I'm very much like yourself, I don't daydream as such, but I let the mind develop stories I have in my head. Usually I have about 3 or 4 short stories bubbling at a time. Most of the time I just leave them sitting in the mind, let them brew a while whilst I figure out my current story. In my creative spurts (I'm in the midst of one at the moment) the stories keeps knocking, even when I haven't finished writing the last. I worry that should I reach retirement age, I will have too much time and I end up creating waffle and becoming hyper critical, so I actually prefer this mad rushed lifestyle, chasing something, finding time, even if it is 20 minutes.
I guess when I'm daydreaming about my writing, I'm mostly running plot scenarios in my head, trying to feel out how well the fit with various character motivations and making mental tweaks for later fixing.

And I get what you mean about having the balance of work. Though I still think I'll like all the time afforded for writing in retirement, I get a very important social need filled through my work. I think I'll just have to make a point of still being active and involved in the world around me in some intentional way. :)
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
I was lucky to have a somewhat different kind of 9-to-5 job – there were tasks that needed to be completed by their respective deadlines, but the when was up to me. I could even get away with not spending the entire worktime in the office, unless I really pushed my luck. Then again, whenever I had to stay longer in the evening to get things done on time, it was my own problem. No one to complain to.

The point is, I occasionally even found time to do some creative writing at the office. It was difficult to write actual text, because they rarely let me think in peace. But I was able to write down ideas and such. When I walk on the street going somewhere, it often happens that I imagine my characters talking to each other and such. Strangely enough, they often do it in English. :)

It's great that you can teach writing to your students. It's undoubtedly helping a lot to make your own writing increasingly better.

To enhance your (physical and mental) energy, I would recommend the exercises from "The Way of Energy" by Lam Kam Chuen. Unfortunately, they require some time alone and undisturbed, so you'll have to decide yourself whether or not it's worth it.
I've often wondered what it would be like to try a job that allowed for a little more occasional down time and flexibility, but I suppose each type of work has it's benefits and tricky parts. :)

I really am appreciative of being able to teach (and therefore continue to learn, myself) writing. It helps me stay inspired, for sure.

I'll have to check out "The Way of Energy"!
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
Retired Silicon Valley Engineer here... I did write several novels back in the1980's, and even landed an agent but didn't achieve a publishing deal; back then self publishing wasn't feasible. For most of my career I was running on two or three hours of sleep a night, commuting two hours to work after dropping the kids off at school/daycare, then a half-hour commute home after 3am. Lather, rinse, repeat for several decades.

My books were written during a brief period where I was working for the DOD - the government grants A LOT more time off than commercial companies do.

I view writing as an art form, and thusly don't do it with the belief that I'll become the next Michael Crichton or Stephen King. I do it because I have stories to tell and enjoy telling them - if I make money on them that's great, but that isn't my goal, which is to entertain.
I am so impressed you got anything written with that work and life schedule. That had to require some hard core dedication.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
My job isn't hard but its boring. Sometimes I get super busy, but for the most part its slow or steady. I have written at work before but I usually don't. I just hang out on the forum lol I do have a notebook I write ideas down though.
But I'm lucky I got a 9 to 5 that doesn't zap my energy but now I got a social life, which i'm still getting use to lol
So it takes a bit of planning when I write during the week. :)
That sounds like a pretty great work situation! And a social life is important, but I totally get what you mean about it requiring more careful planning.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
Actually, I just had a discussion similar to this with my bf, and myself, wondering why I was studying up on computer courses when I want to become a full time author. Sure, I'm making a pretty penny in the IT field... but I have loads of free time, and I thought I was wasting company time by doing anything that wasn't computer related. But, I've now since decided that I should use this free time to benefit myself and my goals, by writing during work.

I do have an hour and a half drive to and from work every day that I've used to listen to audio books/day dream. That's been helpful, but I've been way too tired to do much writing when I get home. Usually I've been mindlessly playing video games and occasionally going to the gym, so me writing at work will for sure benefit my goals.

Wish I could get up at 4 like Ralph. Now that would be something. But, sadly, I love my sleep and I have to sacrifice so much of it for that hour drive already
I love that you've embraced that mentality about your down time with work. It makes total sense not to feel guilty when you don't really have anything else to do at a given time.

Though a part of me is so averse to the idea of a commute, when I have had a longer drive, I always did enjoy the think time (or audiobook time - another great use of the quiet).
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
I've run my own businesses since 1982, which in theory means I don't have a boss looking over my shoulder to see what I'm doing, but in reality means my boss is with me 24/7. :) My advantage vis a vis writing is my business no longer takes all my time. My main line is an eCommerce system which my business partner sells and does most of the ongoing support on. My side is to set it up for new clients and write customizations or new features when needed. Years ago that was more than a full-time activity, but now that the software is mature, I may sometimes go days between necessary commitments. Gives me more time to write ... and time to do Supervisor things around here. LOL
It sounds like you were pretty busy early on so it's nice that as your business has matured, you've gained more time for your writing. :)
 
Top