Writers Need Money Too

When I was a child, and first started writing, I had this vision of my adult self sitting in a garret, in a castle, wearing a fancy robe, and writing hundreds of books.

I still daydream about that, but with a little bit of sarcasm thrown in. Like an inner satire monologue with a Wes Anderson vibe montage. “Hah, hah,” I say to myself. “How chic, yet unrealistic.” Then I concentrate on what color robe I’m wearing and whether the relationship with my dreamy, rich husband is good or on the rocks (for the drama, of course).

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Anyway, I’m amused.

But here’s the truth: whether you get paid for your writing, or whether you have a day job, all writers need money. You know, there’s food and rent/mortgage, and some of you went insane and had children, for pete’s sake. I hear you have to feed those.

And then, of course, many of us have cats or dogs or strange fish or iguanas, and they must be housed and fed.

And you can’t go outside naked (well, some places you could), so you need clothes.

And just so many other annoying things that you have to pay for, and which you must have, some of them, in order to at least have – at the most basic level – a stable, secure life.

So, other than the possibility that I might one day marry the rich man of my dreams, I find myself – once again! – searching for a job. And, in my mind I’m thinking of my writing as I’m searching for these jobs. Why?

Well, I will tell you.

  • It can’t be too tiring, or taxing on my brain, because then I do not want to write when I come home. Which will be the opposite of everything I would strive for.
  • In the same vein, it can’t be something I hate, because otherwise I would just come home everyday, collapse on my bed, and dramatically sob out all of my stuffed down emotions for a few hours, and then have no time to write. (I have worked at a job like this, it does happen)
  • It can’t be too far away, because if I spend all day going back and forth to my job, and have so very little time for self-care or other things (like talking to my mother, reading the Bible), then I won’t have time to write.
  • It has to be enough to at least keep me financially stable.
  • It has to be just ONE job, because I am not working two jobs, again, thank you.

But that is my personal list for a job. What would your list look like? Perhaps your job informs your writing, so a little more brainpower actually helps your writing? Maybe you don’t mind a longer drive. You brainstorm better in the car.

Writers, if you’re looking for that day job still, what does that look like? Is it something with books and writing, or the complete opposite?

The most important thing to keep in mind, however, is, writers: having a day job to support yourself is not a failure for you as a writer.

Having a day job does not mean you’re not a writer.

You are providing for your self. You are making an environment where you can write. You are bolstering your mental health by ensuring that you have a home, food, and clothes to put on your back (and your children’s back). You are gaining experiences that will inform your writing in ways you don’t realize yet.

And, so, you’re not writing two books a year like you planned. One is plenty, especially if finds its readers. One ever few years – still plenty, because it will find its readers. Look at Patrick Rothfuss. He’s written two books in ten years – and I’m still waiting anxiously for the third! But I have read the first two more than once! Because I love them.

So, when you’re sifting through those applications, don’t look at it as a negative, and don’t assume you now have put writing on the back burner. Keep your writing in mind as you search for that day job. But also keep in mind, that if you’re not taken care of, you can’t write. So, take care of yourself writer. Happy job hunting!

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