You Don’t Have to Love Your Day Job

Not everyone loves the job that pays the bills. That’s OK.

I used to dream about what it would be like to live like a “real” writer.

I assumed I’d be able to get a writing job I loved right out of college, if I worked hard enough as a student, gained the right experience, and proved I deserved it.

But here’s the thing about jobs: They’re hard, and they aren’t always fun. Even when writing is involved.

And that’s the case for any day job. I think it’s safe to assume the majority of adults don’t enjoy going to work. They do it because they have to.

That doesn’t mean all of these people are miserable. Many — especially creatives — likely have something worthwhile to come home to. A hobby … like writing for fun.

There’s one thing no one ever told me growing up that I wish I’d heard daily.

You do not have to love your day job.

You don’t even have to like it.

But sometimes, it’s the day job that grants you the opportunity to pursue your dream job. Or just write on the side.

There’s nothing wrong with making a little money doing what you love aside from the consistent paycheck you get from an employer.

Writing full-time isn’t what makes you a writer.

You’re not a writer because you work for yourself, or don’t have a commute, or you technically don’t ever have to wear pants.

You’re a writer because you tell stories.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make doing it — if any at all. It doesn’t matter if you spend all day writing or squeeze in a few hours at night after everyone else goes to sleep.

All that matters is that you’re making it work. You’re figuring it out. You’re doing what you have to do to make writing happen, whether it’s fun or not.

Writers don’t always live the glamorous, stress-free, relaxed lives people think they do. In reality, most of them — especially in the beginning — start out working jobs they don’t like so they can go home and eat dinner over their laptop keyboards.

These are the sacrifices we make when we choose this path.

We choose to put responsibility first, creative adventures second.

Maybe someday you’ll spend all day doing what you love. Maybe not.

But do what you have to do so you can also do what you want to do. Make the most of the situation you’re in. Make it work. Make it count.

Don’t wait for someone or something to come along and offer you the writing gig you’ve always dreamed of. That’s not how it goes.

Go to work. Work hard. Earn that paycheck.

Come home. Drink that coffee. Write that book. Impress that client. Grow that blog.

Nothing you’re doing is pointless.

Never forget how much your writing time means to you — and always cherish it, even if you can only handle the minimum amount of “outside-of-work” work for now.

Writing is work -- and that's OK. Here's how to find balance.

How to Treat a Hobby Like a Job

My First "Real" Job Had (Almost) Nothing to Do With Writing

What No One Tells You About Landing Your First Writing Job

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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16 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to Love Your Day Job

  1. Reblogged this on Sharon E. Cathcart and commented:
    I was really struggling emotionally when I went to work at an extremely mundane job after the newspaper where I had been editor-in-chief closed. A colleague from another paper took me out to lunch and told me about how much he had hated teaching journalism when he wanted to be out doing it. He then gave me the words of wisdom that came to him one day while he was getting dressed: “Your job is not your life; it is the subsidy for your life.” I was so entangled in “I am a newspaper editor,” which is the job for which I had aimed my entire career, that I didn’t know how to remember that I was a writer first and foremost.

    This blog article contains some excellent advice for us as authors with day jobs (which is how I now define myself).

  2. I needed this today. I’ve been wishing I could quit my day job and just look and pick up freelance work. I’d be so happy but then again, I need to make ends meet and that’s a little high. So you’re right!

    1. I totally get the struggle. But so, so many people have day jobs they don’t love — but they’re able to support themselves/their families and do things they do love outside of work because of that. It’s not ideal, but it’s reality, no matter how much we wish it wasn’t! I’d love to just sit around and read books all day, but if I did, I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy more books!!

  3. I used to love my job. It did not, after all those years, love me back. This was a great post! -Robert

  4. Well you wrote my heart out☺. I’ve always wished I could quit my day job and focus on writing fully but that means I would end up struggling so right now all I’m doing is doing what I got to do until I know for sure it’s time for me to go into full time writing. Writing is fun, relaxing and great!

    1. I’m doing the same thing in a sense. I know blogging and freelancing wouldn’t be enough to support me (plus, uh, insurance!), so I’m hanging in there until I can make my side gigs my full-time gigs. Someday!!

  5. Your day job is a means to an end. There are some writers who never live “the writer’s life” and keep the day job even though they’re a bestselling author. The trick (which I never learned) is not to go home after work and veg out watching TV until it’s time to go to bed.

    1. Ugh, the struggle is real. I have to force myself to stay in my office sometimes just to make sure I don’t get distracted until everything’s done!

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