Writing With a Day Job

Nathan Bransford gives the advice that way-too-many of us need to hear:

web-jobby Nathan Bransford

On last week’s episode of Girls, Hannah got a temporary day job in GQ’s advertorial department, where she had a taste of success (as well as free snacks).

Her fellow co-workers were fellow aspiring writers, and during a slightly fraught break room chat, they revealed that all of their writing successes came before they had a day job. Hannah quits, not wanting to wake up in ten years having failed to pursue her real writing, but later decides to try to have it both ways and vows to write three hours every night.

I’m sure this episode rang true for many a writer. Barring some sort of independent wealth or a generous benefactor, there are really only two choices:

  • Quit/scale back your day job to have more time to write, plunging yourself into financial uncertainty.
  • Keep your day job and carve out time for writing in the margins, plunging yourself into creative uncertainty.

There are pros and cons of both courses of actions, of course, and I know writers on both ends of the spectrum. Some writers I know cobble together a freelance life to maintain maximum flexibility while just getting by financially, which gives them enough time to write.

I have thrown myself into my day jobs.

I probably could, in theory, quit my day job, combine my books income with some writing/editing consulting on the side and cobble together a reasonable living with more time to write. But here’s the thing: I like having a career.

It’s not just about having a steady paycheck and benefits, which are nothing at all to sneeze at. Having financial security takes a ton of the pressure off of writing, and I completely recognize how fortunate I am in this day and age to even have a good job, especially one where I feel like I’m helping accomplish a greater good.

For me, one of the most important reasons I like having a day job is balance:

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