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maestrowork
07-16-2008, 05:33 PM
Do you have a writing-related day job? Do you find it easier or more difficult to work on your own projects (particularly fiction) if you have to write at your day job? Would you rather have a non-writing-related day job?

And if you do have a non-writing-related day job, do you find it easier or more difficult to a) find time to write and b) get into the groove of writing?

Shadow_Ferret
07-16-2008, 05:43 PM
I have a writing related job. I'm a tech writer. But I don't find that it makes my fiction writing any more or less difficult. I think the two styles are so far removed as to not interfere.

Let me put it this way, after doing tech writing all day, I don't find that I'm too burned out to write, in fact, all that formal, by the rules writing tends to keep my imagination chomping at the bit and it can't wait to be let loose once I get home.

And I've had non-writing jobs in the past. Same thing. My imagination is always waiting to be freed.

It's kind of like my day job makes my imagination constipated, everything builds up until, when I get home, everything bursts forth in a diahrea of ideas. (Hope no one's eating.)

maestrowork
07-16-2008, 05:48 PM
So here's another question: Do you find having a day job help your writing (turning your imagination loose at the end of a long work day)?

Many people dream of quitting their jobs and write full-time. But is it really the best? To those who are writing full-time, do you find it more difficult now than when you had a day job?

Momento Mori
07-16-2008, 06:09 PM
maestrowork:
Do you have a writing-related day job?

Yup. I'm a lawyer and I spend my days drafting contracts, arguing about contracts and researching.


maestrowork:
Do you find it easier or more difficult to work on your own projects (particularly fiction) if you have to write at your day job?

I might be misinterpreting the question here, but I don't think it's as simple as saying that it makes it easier or harder because legal writing tends to be a different skill to creative writing. For example, in drafting a contract you usually want that contract to be as clear, unambiguous and easy to understand as possible, which means that you're trying to set out a particular situation and prescribe exactly what's going to happen. In creative writing however, you may very well want or need a certain level of ambiguity and certainly with my WIP, I find myself constantly having to take a step back from being too obvious in what I'm doing because I want there to be a sense of uncertainty and mystery.

Saying that, there are undeniably certain overlaps between the two. For example, I definitely think about language a great deal when I'm working on my WIP and what words mean, which I think (hope) makes my descriptions more effective. I also tend to be pretty logical in considering the cause-and-effect of what's going on so that the structure's very linear (although that wouldn't be a good thing if I was trying to write something more abstract).

In terms of the practicalities of writing, if I've had a long day in the office or done a weekend or an all-nighter, then it is very difficult to get myself in the mindset of sitting down in front of my computer when I get home to churn out more stuff. For example, for the last month I've been doing 10 to 12 hour days in the office in high-stress situations and it means that I'm completely brain-fried by the time I get home. That also has a knock-on effect when it comes to writing in the weekends because I'm having to shift from a 'work-writing' mindset to a 'pleasure-writing' mindset.

However, there are times when writing at home can be very therapeutic precisely because I am doing something so completely different and I do enjoy torturing or killing characters who just happen to bear a resemblance to someone who's annoyed me that day.

Did I mention that being a lawyer also makes me equivocate in my opinions and go into excessive detail? Ahem. Sorry about that.

MM

DeleyanLee
07-16-2008, 06:12 PM
And if you do have a non-writing-related day job, do you find it easier or more difficult to a) find time to write and b) get into the groove of writing?

I'm an executive secretary, so there's some measure of letters/memos/emails to my daily workload, but it's not the focus of my 40 hours. Finding time to write--to actually sit down and do the work--is a challenge because I like to be social with my housemate and have other activities in my life, but when the creative iron is hot, I sit and write. I've always been a person who has little to no problem getting into the groove of writing once I have the time to do it.


So here's another question: Do you find having a day job help your writing (turning your imagination loose at the end of a long work day)?

I think I will always have a day job of some sort, even if I became the next Rowlings. The day job keeps me in the world, social and connected to more than myself. I need that to refill my creative well or I can't even get through a single novel-length endeavor.


Many people dream of quitting their jobs and write full-time. But is it really the best? To those who are writing full-time, do you find it more difficult now than when you had a day job?

I used to dream of writing full-time when my kids were younger and dealing with day-care, sitters and the like was a constant hassle. Now that they're in college, I find I don't really have that dream anymore. Not to say that I don't want to make a good living at writing, mind you, but if I gain that by doing what I'm doing now, something must be working. Don't fix what ain't broke.

And if I don't gain publication by doing what I'm doing now, I still gotta eat so it comes down to the same thing: Don't fix what ain't broke.

Shadow_Ferret
07-16-2008, 06:35 PM
So here's another question: Do you find having a day job help your writing (turning your imagination loose at the end of a long work day)?

Many people dream of quitting their jobs and write full-time. But is it really the best? To those who are writing full-time, do you find it more difficult now than when you had a day job?
*looks around to see if anyone is listening*

To be honest, during slow periods, breaks, and at lunch, I write at work. I find that the boredom of what I do is the impetus to get me to write my fiction.

I fear if I quit my job and attempted to make fiction writing full-time, that I wouldn't have the discipline. I'd find too many other distractions at home and I'd never get anything done.

Work is good for my fiction. :)

Claudia Gray
07-16-2008, 06:44 PM
I have a writing-related day job, but the writing is usually not very creative -- it's far more technical. So I find that I still have the creative energy to work at the end of the day or on the weekends.

That said, it's also a high stress job, so sometimes I come home and just have to veg. I hate taking the time away from writing, but OTOH, sometimes you have to recharge.

Hobbes
07-16-2008, 06:45 PM
I produce TV commercials, which means I write them too. So really, it's like I'm writing fiction all the time! :D

Momento Mori
07-16-2008, 06:49 PM
Hobbes:
I produce TV commercials, which means I write them too. So really, it's like I'm writing fiction all the time!

Wait, you mean that shampoo really won't make my hair so sexy that every man will desire me sexually? Are you saying that drinking that brand of alcoholic beverage won't make me a scintillating person to be with? Are you really telling me that using a certain sanitary towel product won't magically make my menstrual cycle a more enjoyable and fun experience?

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Damn you for lying to me! You've crushed my dreams! ;)

MM

Soccer Mom
07-16-2008, 06:49 PM
Yup, I"m another attorney who does work related writing. (Lordy, how did Roundtable turn into the lawyer hang out? Has someone been chumming the waters?)

It depends on how much writing I've done at work. If I spent all day in front of the computer grinding out something boring, I find myself writing in a notebook. I like the freedom of fiction and it's a release, but I can't stomach more hours in front of the computer.

A day spent in court fries my brain like no other and I"m unable to write that evening.

Irysangel
07-16-2008, 06:51 PM
I have a writing-related day job (I write Help Text and User Manuals) and...it's interesting. I find that I go through periods where I don't want to look at writing at all when I come home from work, and I find that sometimes it really doesn't bug me if I'm excited enough about a story.

I do most of my writing on the weekends, though. And I find that I can't write at the computer (I use the AlphaSmart) or I end up flipping around a lot, like I do at work.

It can be mentally draining to have to choose the right words all day and edit stuff...and then come home, choose the right words and edit stuff all over again.

Hobbes
07-16-2008, 06:56 PM
Wait, you mean that shampoo really won't make my hair so sexy that every man will desire me sexually? Are you saying that drinking that brand of alcoholic beverage won't make me a scintillating person to be with? Are you really telling me that using a certain sanitary towel product won't magically make my menstrual cycle a more enjoyable and fun experience?

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Damn you for lying to me! You've crushed my dreams! ;)

MM

Yep. Sorry. Except for the shampoo thing. That's true. :D

Tink
07-16-2008, 07:04 PM
*looks around to see if anyone is listening*

To be honest, during slow periods, breaks, and at lunch, I write at work. I find that the boredom of what I do is the impetus to get me to write my fiction.

I fear if I quit my job and attempted to make fiction writing full-time, that I wouldn't have the discipline. I'd find too many other distractions at home and I'd never get anything done.

Work is good for my fiction. :)I am at home all the time and it can be very difficult some days to stay true to my writing...especially since I have joined this forum...Yep...that's it. My lack of self-discipline shall be blamed on the AW...:D

shakeysix
07-16-2008, 07:07 PM
i am a high school teacher. when i taught brit lit and english comp, grading my student's papers helped me get a grip on organization problems in my own fiction. now that i teach only spanish, reading and writing in spanish is making my english writing leaner but more colorful. language really does affect how one sees the world--different adjectives and proverbs for example. mainly, the summers off are my creation time. i usually block out as many new stories as i can over the summer--daydream freely. i don't have a television so i am my own daytime shows. finally i have to say that contact with kids is my best perk. i don't write kid stuff but seeing the world through their eyes is so funny and so refreshing that i feel like i am on its threshold, again; a constant rejuvenation with each new set of seniors. of course it is summer time now. the little hooligans will have me crazy by october---s6

Hobbes
07-16-2008, 07:07 PM
I am at home all the time and it can be very difficult some days to stay true to my writing...especially since I have joined this forum...Yep...that's it. My lack of self-discipline shall be blamed on the AW...:D


Do you have a laptop, Tink? Take it outside and sit down in the middle of your cornfield. Then you can write. :)

Stew21
07-16-2008, 07:11 PM
I have a writing related job. I write sales proposals which requires some finesse with words but very little creativity in the ways I like to be creative. I don't know that it has any impact on my fiction writing at all. I had jobs previously that didn't involve any writing and I haven't seen an increase or decrease in difficulty with fiction since the change.
I do love my job though, and can't imagine quitting. I like the social interaction of the workplace - perhaps if I was ever successful enough as a writer to not need a fulltime job I may want to look into somethng part time, but I can't imagine not going to an office anytime soon. at the very least, if I was very successful, I would just need to make time to be more social and join in other activities.

steveg144
07-16-2008, 07:13 PM
I write software at my day job, but none of what I write at my day job is human-readable, so it doesn't count. Of course, some would say that my non-day-job writing isn't human-readable either. :tongue

StoryG27
07-16-2008, 07:23 PM
Do you have a writing-related day job? Do you find it easier or more difficult to work on your own projects (particularly fiction) if you have to write at your day job? Would you rather have a non-writing-related day job?

And if you do have a non-writing-related day job, do you find it easier or more difficult to a) find time to write and b) get into the groove of writing?
Non-writing related, lots of number crunching and such and I find it very difficult to switch my brain mode from analytical to creative, so that would be b), it's difficult for me to get in the groove.

So here's another question: Do you find having a day job help your writing (turning your imagination loose at the end of a long work day)?

Many people dream of quitting their jobs and write full-time. But is it really the best? To those who are writing full-time, do you find it more difficult now than when you had a day job?
Yes, before I had a day job (almost 2 years ago) I wrote a lot and it came so easy, now it is always a struggle to get started, to get into the groove , and to find the time. However, sometimes people at work spark interesting ideas for me and I'll have experiences or encounter people that inspire a scene or a clever twist.

CaroGirl
07-16-2008, 07:28 PM
I'm a technical writer but I don't find it interferes with the thought process behind fiction writing. I find I don't have the time I need to write. It also takes a physical toll on my writing. I'm sitting at a computer all day, using the mouse and keyboard. When I get home, my wrist, elbow and shoulder ache. I just can't physically spend any more time on the computer. Now that I'm f/t, my body doesn't get a day or two to recover. It's just relentless.

I haven't written anything significant in 4 months because of this stupid f/t job.

Harper K
07-16-2008, 08:16 PM
I spend about half of my work days writing -- I write language proficiency tests in English, but I also manage other test developers who create tests in their native languages. The biggest way my day job helps my writing is through forcing me to practice word economy; if I'm writing a reading comprehension test, I usually have to stick to a strict word limit for the reading passage. Say, 300 words. I've gotta make sure that every single word in there contributes to the meaning of the passage (or, occasionally, I'll have superfluous info in there for a reason, like to test the examinee's ability to locate the main idea of the passage). I've found that my adherence to word economy on the job has carried over to my fiction writing, as well. There's much less fat to cut when I do a rewrite or revision than there was before I started developing tests.

And another good thing is just building up a lot of writing energy. I find that if I spend the whole morning pounding out a test, I want to keep my fingers hitting the keys. So I'll open my WIP during lunch and spend the whole hour writing. The day job writing, while not terribly creative, does at least get me into a really good mental and physical writing rhythm.

I am kinda beat when I get home, though. My commute's really short, and it's rare that I will open my WIP on my laptop when I get home. I usually have dinner, talk with Husband, maybe watch some TV... and then get back to my fiction writing.

ajkjd01
07-16-2008, 11:30 PM
Wow, you're right....lots of lawyers. Um, me too.

I'm a criminal lawyer...and in court a lot. In Court sometimes translates to Waiting For the Judge. I always have a legal pad with me in court, and am always making some notes for fiction while I'm waiting. It's also a nice disconnect to use my lunch hours for writing during the day, a nice break from the legal side of the brain to the creative side of the brain, and a good way to recharge for an entire afternoon in court.

I also spend a couple of evenings a week devoted to writing and writing related stuff. Sometimes I'll take a weekend day to do some more. It's a great way of switching gears to keep the daily grind from getting to you.

Red-Green
07-16-2008, 11:38 PM
I used to have a writing-related day job, doing publications and press releases for a non-profit. It sucked my fiction-writing soul. Of course, it didn't help that my boss was all the time editing my elegant prose into crap by overusing words like wonderful and extraordinary.

JoNightshade
07-16-2008, 11:57 PM
I have a writing-related job. I do travel stuff, mainly marketing and newsletters now. When I was working full time, it was physically impossible to come home and keep typing, even when I was ready to write. Now I work part time, on my own hours, which is much better.

I find my "work" writing actually improves my novel-writing. What I do for work is ALL about condensing, cramming the greatest meaning into the smallest number of words and making everything really clear and simple. It's also a huge amount of description - places, houses, people, etc. etc., which is something I used to struggle with. No more!

Initially, however, it was very difficult for me to turn that switch from "nonfiction" to "fiction." I'd get stuck in a rut and my own writing would start to sound all peppy and newsletterish. Yick! But now I'm used to it.

I think having the job keeps me motivated to write - I am constantly torn between doing the stuff I know needs doing at my job or... just writing a bit more! Fortunately since I don't work that much I can usually get away with putting stuff off. But I think the contrast keeps me excited about my own writing. If I just quit completely, I'd probably get bored with my own stuff and start distracting myself in other ways. Right now, my writing IS the distraction!

darrtwish
07-17-2008, 02:53 AM
Nope, unless you count being a high school student as writing-related. My planned career is what I guess you could say a "writing-related job", but it'll be writing in foreign languages.:) I want to become a translator, and transfer texts into different languages, so I'd say it'll be semi-writing related.

Norman D Gutter
07-17-2008, 03:15 AM
Do you have a writing-related day job? Do you find it easier or more difficult to work on your own projects (particularly fiction) if you have to write at your day job? Would you rather have a non-writing-related day job?

And if you do have a non-writing-related day job, do you find it easier or more difficult to a) find time to write and b) get into the groove of writing?
I am a civil engineer by trade, so my job is not strictly writing related.

However, throughout my career of 34 years, I seem to have been assigned much writing. At first it was simple business letters, which mainly involved brevity and accuracy. Then it was construction specifications and technical reports. From the specs I learned conciseness of language. From reports I learned explaining the technical in terms the non-technical person can understand. Later I became involved in writing marketing materials, which was the first business use that required any type of creative writing. Since then I've also had to write regulations for engineering designs: technical manuals for the city I did contract work for. Along the way I authored three technical papers for presentation at conferences (one is next month in Orlando), and three articles in engineering management type magazines. This gave me a taste of the editorial process. My current position is corporate trainer for engineering, so now I'm developing training classes and writing the student handouts and teacher notes.

It seems most of my career has involved almost more writing than calculating. So the career has helped prepare me for a (second) career in creative writing. I have stretched and improved my grammar skills through technical writing. When I have a day at work that is heavy in writing, as opposed to calculating, I find I can shift gears easy to creative writing, much easier than on days heavy in calculations.

I think the balance in my day job between technical writing and calculating (and I use "calculating" to refer to all the non-writing things I have to do at work) is good for my writing. I'm not so tired of writing that I can't do it at home in the evenings, and I'm not brain weary from intense calculations.

NDG

Jenan Mac
07-17-2008, 08:07 AM
I'm not gainfully employed (subcategory: Mom who home schools), and it's hard to get into writing mode in between everything else that goes on here. When I worked night intake at the psych ER it was much easier, particularly on the nights the house was quiet. I wasn't even particularly trying to write, and sometimes did simply because I was bored.

Phaedo
07-17-2008, 02:00 PM
I am a legal secretary. My job is mentally degrading – I make copies, scan and type. But I started writing because of that. I wrote my very first sentence of fiction at my desk in the office, when I could not take that routine anymore. At that moment I thought that if I could just switch off for five minutes and imagine myself in another place, another era, another dimension all-together, then I would be able to survive this day at work. When I came home, I wrote another sentence and another, and this is how it all started.

So yes, ironically, my job has helped me with writing and it still does. I used to get extremely frustrated with and hurt by my employer (and I still do) and I wanted to quit every day (and I still do), but now I take these frustrations, play around with them and put them into my stories. I actually write down or memorize what my boss said (screamed) and I insert it in a dialogue in my story. Negative emotions are good. Feeling them helps me create. Without my job, without all these emotions jumping, I would be disconnected from the world.

Great thread, maestrowork, thank you!

myscribe
07-17-2008, 08:13 PM
I think all jobs whether have there own set of circumstances that can affect your writing. Nothing is a perfect solution. You just have to find what works best for you.

I have a writing day job as an editor for a nonprofit organization. I produce a magazine and several other publications. In addition, I write grants, fund-raising letters, ad copy, and just about everything else there is to write. Itís a truckload of writing and very intensive.

It absolutely drains my creative energy and makes it hard for me to balance it with my own work. Most of my writing happens on the weekends. If I write during the week, it's generally snippets or ideas. I will do project or market research now and then at night if I'm not working.

On the positive side, I know how to produce when I have the time. Writing as a day job has disciplined me to be able to write in any situation. Itís also made me a better writer. I get to meet a lot of wonderful people and tell their stories. This is the part that I love (and right now about the only part I enjoy).

It's all about the balance whether you write full-time for yourself, someone else or both. And it takes time to figure out that balance. I'm hoping one of these days I'll figure it out. I'm getting better at it (not really).

Julia
07-18-2008, 08:47 AM
Phaedo, as someone who has worked briefly in a law office, I feel for you.
Darrtwish, I am also going to become a translator (and eventually, a professor of literature as well, oh, and a published writer too).

My day job is that of community counsellor to ex-offenders. There is about 20% of writing involved in the job. My reports are usually well-liked and convincing. As my boss said: "it's literary, it's full of action and we want to know what happens after."

Other than that, the emotional aspect can be grueling at times. It means that on those days, I can't write. But with the incredible things I see on an almost day-to-day basis, I get tons of ideas for future stories. If truly living makes a great writer, then I might become one myself in the future.

mistri
07-18-2008, 06:48 PM
I sub-edit magazines for my day job and it doesn't really affect my writing at all. It possibly improves my work on a sentence level, but leaves me with enough creativity to write in the evenings.

Years ago I had a job editing fiction and I found it much harder to write in my spare time, because I was burnt out from reading other people's fiction all day long.

But it works differently for different people.

payitforward
07-20-2008, 07:32 AM
I actually teach writing (college composition), so some days, after reading countiless drafts and helping students "flip" their sentences over, I have no brain power left for my own writing. Other days, it sharpens my editor's eye to unflinchingly go back over my own manuscript with a red pen. All depends on the day, I guess, and how tired (or despairing) I am.

When I'm at the beginning stages, though, grrr...I just need to be left in a cave with some light, a little food, and a computer.

Blondchen
07-20-2008, 07:38 AM
I do a lot of editting and a shitload of emailing, which I suppose is writing-related. And my job is very feast or famine - some days are insane, some make me slip into a coma.

The insane days make if very difficult for me to focus on fiction writing, both at work and when I get home. The coma days are just the opposite.

KC Sunshine
07-20-2008, 07:41 AM
My day job is pretty stressful and leaves me too tired to write in the evenings, so most of my writing is done on the weekends. There is an upside however, as I work in the film industry and can keep abreast of what sort of stories are being made, thus helping me shape my own work.

I tried writing full time but it was too much pressure. I wanted to have a career I could also be proud of so I could "hedge my bets" if the writing thing didn't work out. I also studied creative writing at a post graduate level full time and ultimately gave that up too to return to work. Main problem? Money! It's very hard to send out manuscripts when you can't pay for postage. Having a job makes me feel comfortable that my writing doesn't have to pay the bills. My goal isn't to become a writer who can live off writing, and I'm pretty open about that.

Kalyke
07-20-2008, 08:24 AM
I'm unemployed. Since I was fired for disobedience, I will probably not have a job till I've learned my lesson, so I am just a writer and artist right now. I hate working for other people. Every 10 years I lose everything and find I have not really gotten anything from the experience. If I am lucky I will never again work for an employer.

SeattleGhostWriter
07-20-2008, 09:33 AM
Do you have a writing-related day job? Do you find it easier or more difficult to work on your own projects (particularly fiction) if you have to write at your day job? Would you rather have a non-writing-related day job?

And if you do have a non-writing-related day job, do you find it easier or more difficult to a) find time to write and b) get into the groove of writing?


Actually (until recently) I am pretty lucky. I have a non writing slave job. I won't say day job because I don't work days. I work swing. What this means is that I am up mon-fri around 6 am and when my fiance leaves I am starting in on my writing and then spend a couple hours getting ready, cleaning apartment etc. I now have added responsibilities (we have taken in my fiance's sisters two youngest children = 3 and 2 year olds). Since I work swing, I am home around 11.30 and work on my writing until I crash around 2 am and then back up at 6. Weekends, I take a break.

Now, how much writing I have done? I haven't done any...yes. I am a slacker and can't find the means to motivate myself to write no matter what I try to do. I have all these ideas, but when I go to write, there seems to be a missing sense of that passion and I am not sure why. I can't figure it out.

Jackfishwoman
07-20-2008, 11:05 PM
I used to work as a social worker, and although that may not be considered directly related to writing, it has helped me enormously. As a social worker I studied people - behaviours, emotions, responses to trauma - and learned a lot from the people I worked with. It was a fantastic base for writing. AND, a social worker has to do a great deal of note-taking, recording, case studies, reports, etc. So there was actually a lot of writing involved.