An Author's Life: Having a Day Job
I recently had an interesting discussion during my day job. What, you ask, you have a day job? Aren't you just an author? Well, if you poke around on this website enough, you'll see I do freelance writing, and have experience in marketing.
The question arose when my team at work was discussing why some of us had trouble doing additional training through reading books or listening to podcasts, or other methods. My problem is, of course, I write my books and when I am not at the office, I am thinking about the story I'm writing instead of worrying about work.
I guess this brought about a question: Am I a marketing guy who writes books on the side, or an author who has to work in marketing to pay the bills?
I think, for me, I have always been the second option. In my mind, I am an author and have been one since I wrote my first short story in the third grade. Once I discovered that people wrote the stories I loved to read, and that I could do it, too, it was pretty much all I ever wanted to do.
However, for some reason, literary agents and the people who can turn a wannabe author into a full time author who does nothing but write books for a living, just run from me. I don't understand why, but it happens. I sell a decent amount of books, for sure, but when you live in a big city here in the U.S., it sure isn't enough money to live off of.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that the day job was something I needed to pay the bills, for sure, but I also would spend more of my time at the day job than at home. I would be spending more hours of my life not writing the books and novels than writing them. So, after a few false starts in careers that did not meet expectations, I decided I needed the day job to be creative like the side hustle. Thus, 17 or so years ago, I started in marketing.
Of course, I am hardly the only author for whom this happens. What I am trying to convey is that, when it comes to writing, you gotta do what you gotta do. There is not shame in spending 8 hours of your day working at an office or wherever it is you've found gainful employment. Hell, if you can make a living from the royalties, you got one on me and I am a tad jealous. Being an author who has to work at XYZ job is fine. You get by in whatever way you can.
What you have to do is find a way to fit the writing in. Maybe you don't write every day, but you write as often as you can. For me, that means getting up early and writing before the work day starts. It also means I write before bed, or use the Google Docs app on my phone to write during lunch (with the very same phone). You write weekends and you use your PTO to take writing vacations.
Let the story take as much time as it needs. Write when you can, where you can. Don't fret about the word counts. One letter, one word, one sentence at a time, folks. Then, polish it up, but release it into the world. The world needs your stories, needs your art, needs your creativity. But, don't worry about days when you need to take time off, or the days when work gets you down you can't write.
Be kind to yourself. Keep writing. Don't compete with other writers. Love your work, and try to remember, the day job is necessary, but you are an author, a creator, at heart. Shut down work and work on your art when not at the office.