Before graduating this spring with my bachelor’s in creative writing, I was faced with a difficult decision: follow my passion or get a job.
The unspeakable amount of student loan debt weighing on me ultimately swung my decision towards employment, and I am grateful to have a steady full-time job at the same university where I earned my degree. Unfortunately, while I love my job, there’s less time in the day for me to work on my novel. There are nights where I’ll come home intending to write but end up falling asleep after only jotting a few sentences. But I’ve discovered this isn’t a bad thing – I enjoy writing more because of it.
Some think it’s nearly impossible to be a writer and work 40+ hours a week, but I intend to disprove that theory. Here are five of the reasons I’m glad to be chasing my dream while working nine-to-five.
Five Benefits of Writing With a Full-Time Job
1) People are Inspirations
I work in a fairly small department, but I encounter personalities extremely different from my own on a daily basis. There are people who are loud and opinionated, and people who are quiet. Some are sarcastic, while others are reserved.
By leaving the house and going to work, I learn something new about at least one of my coworkers every day. Those small, seemingly insignificant details become information I can use when developing a three-dimensional character. Putting a co-worker’s way of laughing, for example, with a personality trait from a friend leads to a unique combination and, in turn, a unique character.
2) Less Time to Write Can Lead to Better Writing
Working eight hours a day means I only have a few hours before and after work to do whatever I need to get done. It’s ridiculously easy for me to forget to write, and I’ll admit I am not consistent. While I’m still figuring out when my writing fits into my daily schedule, I do know this: I work fantastically under pressure.
Looming deadlines motivate me to get things done, so less time to write is actually beneficial. It also forces the quality of my work up during the first or second drafts. I don’t have time to make a large amount of tiny mistakes, so my writing has to be almost flawless the first time. Having all day to write means I spend all day doing everything but write because I think, “I can do it later; I’ve got time,” but if I only have half an hour to scribble down a scene in my head, I can focus on what’s important to the scene without extra fluff.
3) A Full-Time Job is a Chance to Escape Your Own Head
Writer’s block is the worst. Your mind has gone completely blank and you can’t figure out where your writing is going. Many a night in my dorm room I struggled to get something down on paper for a workshop class the next day.
My job has very little to do with writing, so it’s an escape to a world outside my own mind. By the time I return home, mentally and physically, the many voices floating around inside my head have come to a consensus on where to take the story next. This doesn’t always work for solving my writer’s block, but it does help give my brain a break to focus elsewhere while my thoughts duke it out.
4) The World Can be an Unfair Place
Life is rough. It can be cruel, just as people can be cruel. Some days, nobody seems to care about you, including you.
There are plenty of moments in my short working-adult life thus far that have taught me life isn’t always fair. These moments remind me that although the world may feel like it’s working against me, just like it would to a character facing their own trials, this is when the world is really working with me to create an even better version of myself.
5) And More Beautiful Than We Could Ever Create
In college, I mainly spent time with other creative writing kids because I didn’t have to go out of my way to socialize with them; we were all in class together, so we saw each other almost every day. We all had a similar way of looking at things. Being in the working world reminds me that there is so much I miss out on because I can only see things through my perspective. I work with math nerds, computer geeks, bookworms, fashionistas – the list goes on. Every one of them has different qualities purely their own, qualities I can’t do justice on the page for without experiencing them for myself.
Interacting with co-workers consistently gives me the chance to observe their quirks and hear their stories, which could provide me with new character traits or even inspiration for plot points. Working full-time and writing means I get to immerse myself in two worlds – the one I live in and the one I create.
For those with full-time jobs, does your job motivate you to write? Share your experiences of writing while working in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #5OnFri
When she’s not working, Becca occasionally blogs about being a writer and working full-time with her writing partner-in-crime, C.M. Narrow. When she’s not blogging or working on her first novel, she can be found attempting to read while her five-pound orange tabby sits directly in front of her book and demands to be adored. Follow Becca and C.M.’s adventures on their blog, www.writerworker.wordpress.com, or on Twitter at @writerworker.