It took me almost three years after graduating from college to land my first full-time writing job.
Being a full-time writer seems to be the end goal of many aspiring creators, though “full-time writer” is really an umbrella term that can include many different work structures.
For those hoping to make writing their “day job” — you want a company to pay you to write for them 40 hours per week, for example — it can seem discouraging when you have your heart set on finding that “perfect job” that doesn’t seem to exist.
It turns out it’s OK if you never make writing your day job. In fact, for some writers, it might even be beneficial to work at a job during the day that has nothing to do with writing at all.
Some people don’t WANT to write all day every day. WHAT? THESE PEOPLE EXIST? Yes, they do! But don’t worry. These are people who tend to love writing so much that they want to dedicate special time for crafting their own narratives outside their more “traditional” work.
Have you ever actually spent five or more days a week for more than a few weeks in a row writing as part of your day job? It’s so much more exhausting than you might think. It’s not that it’s bad or that it doesn’t reap wonderful rewards. It’s just … a lot.
Some people prefer to “save” their writing time for quiet, shorter, and often more private blocks of time outside of “normal” work simply because writing can get repetitive even when you enjoy what you’re working on. If you spend all day writing articles, for example, it’s just going to take a little more effort to arrive home and work on a book of your own creation. It’s possible. It’s just not something everyone can or even wants to do. And that’s OK!
Writing forces you to use your brain in a completely different way. There are probably people out there who don’t believe writing can actually be considered “real” work. If you’re a writer — I’m assuming you’re one of those if you’re reading this — you probably already know how harmful misconceptions about writing in this regard can be.
Writing is hard. Not just because it’s time-consuming or because stories themselves are complex, but often simply because the thought processes that go into telling a story aren’t nearly as simple as many non-writers tend to assume.
This is why writing often feels so exhausting, even to those who have been doing it for a long time. You’re constantly using your brain to get stories out of your head and onto paper (to put ideas into words), even if you’re “just writing fiction” and it doesn’t seem like it would be that challenging.
Using different parts of your brain — so to speak — throughout the day can do wonders for your happiness and health. Which is why it’s sometimes actually better for aspiring writers to write outside their day jobs and spend those eight or so hours doing something that doesn’t involve in-depth writing.
Some of the most successful creators thrive on variety. You don’t have to be an “all the things all the time” kind of person to add creative variety to your day. There are a lot of people who just prefer to move from one thing to the next at different parts of their day, varying the type of work they do from point to point.
Why is this a good way to stay creative? For one thing, it forces you to focus on the task at hand. When you’re doing the same thing for eight hours straight — even writing — sometimes it becomes a lot easier to get distracted and even begin to resent the work you’re doing.
Switching types of tasks throughout the day also allows you to (hopefully) tap into a variety of interests. Not everyone has a day job they absolutely love, and that’s OK. Sometimes getting to come home and write when you’ve spent all day not doing your favorite things makes that task all the more thrilling — which is the kind of “push” many people need to get themselves in front of their laptops actually doing work.
It’s OK if you can’t find full-time work as a writer. It’s OK if you’re a full-time writer and decide you don’t want to do that anymore. There are pros and cons to making writing your day job — and if you choose to be a part-time writer, and that’s what ends up working best for you, great! Go forth and conquer one paragraph at a time.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.