The Merit in Having a Day Job

I have a day job, despite my continuing efforts in writing both fiction and nonfiction. And that’s okay. While this is mainly a financial decision, that’s a very dry, very simplified version of what my job does for me. Yes, of course the goal is to not need one. I think I speak for everyone in that. Especially to everyone who, like me, works retail. We spend most of our day thinking “Don’t come in here, don’t come in here, fuck they came in here”. Nothing personal. Most of us just really don’t like people but hide our contempt well. Because we only have a job because of those people.

Which brings me to the point of how having a conventional day job is kind of like the work you do as a writer, whether that’s what occupies most of your time or not. You may or may not like people. Based on the fact that you’re partaking in the least social art form possible, I’m going to go ahead and guess it’s a no for most of you. But that doesn’t matter. Not really. Because just like your shitty day job that you probably hate, you need those people. That’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day. Whether that makes you happy or not. I’m not telling you not to write for you. But you do or will have a public. Don’t write to please them, but edit with them in mind.

A day job can serve as a source of inspiration. It allows you to people watch pretty easily. That’s your best source of inspiration. Ideally said day job won’t make you suicidal. But like I said, I work retail so I’m no expert on not being suicidal in regards to a job. Take snippets of conversations. Take physical descriptions. Don’t take them too closely. Feel free to take creative liberties like anything else, but take note of them. Because it’s detail that makes your writing rich, particularly when used sparingly. Avoid being too specific and going fully into the realm of purple prose. Nobody wants that, even if you do know what color socks your character is wearing.

Specifically for introverts, this time to be forced to interact with people is a damned good thing. Without it, your grasp of the facets of the human condition is loose at best. As a bonus, if you spend all day at work interacting with people you kind of get your social need out of the way. And then some. It’s a controlled environment to more or less stalk people within the confines of the business until you figure them out. Even more interesting is when you can’t quite figure them out. These are the most interesting ones, of course.

The type of day job is kind of up to the creator and what works for them. I recommend doing something that’s separate from your fiction writing. Very separate. Keeping your job far from your creative endeavour means that it doesn’t dip into that energy. Because if your job sucks as much as mine does sometimes, you’re going to be chomping at the bit to come home and write. And with your finite time, you’ll actually write faster. And more passionately. And ultimately better. Even if you do hate being a slave to the wage in the meantime.


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