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View Full Version : Taking a less demanding job for my writing (Request for Commiseration/Anecdotes?)



ArcticFox
03-26-2014, 09:29 AM
I made a huge decision over Spring Break and I would really love to hear stories about others who have done similar things, or just reassurances that I am not crazy for doing this.

I am currently a high school English teacher with an hour commute. It takes up so much of my time, plus the stress and everything that goes with it. I am sure you can imagine lesson planning, grading, meetings, parents, students, etc. can take up time outside of the school day. I admit this is my first year teaching and everyone tells me that it gets easier after the first year and I know plenty of authors have been teachers and still manage time to write.

I just can't help feeling that the best thing for me is to take a less demanding job so I can spend time writing and not worrying about my day job outside of it. It would be juggling two careers and in my experience if you want to be good at something you have to focus.

So, I made my choice. I resigned from the district. It's scary and a relief. I feel like a failure that I have to quit this career that I do enjoy and just started, but I had to weigh the pros and cons.

So, anybody have words of wisdom or similar stories? It's hard to know if you made the right decision sometimes. I am just hoping and trusting I have.

gothicangel
03-26-2014, 12:51 PM
Have you had any thing published/received payment for your writing? If not, to quit your job without any guarantee of being published (good books can still fail to sell) seems like pissing in the wind. Writing is great, but being poor is shit.

I would have maybe decided to get up an hour earlier in the morning to write before work, and then left the evenings free for the school work, and if there was time I would do some writing then. Yes, waitressing or shop work might seem less demanding, but you still end up wrecked and too tired to write some nights.

Chris P
03-26-2014, 01:33 PM
If it's the right decision, it should be the right decision whether or not it's for the purposes of writing. What are the other benefits of your choice? I agree with gothicangel that you've made a very big decision in an unforgiving business. Sometimes you've got to be bold, but then again you've got to watch your own back. I'm of the type who waits to have a bird in the hand before letting the two in the bush go, but I'll trust that you already know your options and have made the right decision for you.

People thought I was crazy, at midcareer, to leave a job that paid way better than I needed, that I was building up good street cred in, I would have moved into my boss' position in just a few months when he retired, and that I could have had for as long as I wanted. The problem? I didn't want the job. I wanted to expand the range of projects I was involved in, have a greater impact, and just as importantly work internationally. So, I took a calculated risk to join the Peace Corps and live overseas for two years. It's been great! I'm getting overseas experience, learning the work skills I came here to learn, and helping people in the meantime. I'm also making incredible contacts and building a reputation for post-Peace Corps employment. As for writing, in two years here I've finished two novels and am halfway through the third. Plus the experiences will be fodder for more works once I get home and I begin to process the experience.

But my decisions were based on other things than writing, even though my writing has benefited immensely. Also, I don't have any children or family depending on me, so aside from missing big life events, nobody is going to have to do without because of my decision. I hope the overall outcome of your decision will be as productive as mine.

Kylabelle
03-26-2014, 02:53 PM
ArcticFox, I wish you all the best as you navigate this choice; you have my support and my commiseration. :)

This is not anything on the order of practical advice, but it is on point, and just appeared in my inbox this morning. It is a short YouTube, Secret Spells of the English Language (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJTpwe3OiV8).

Becky Black
03-26-2014, 02:54 PM
I keep thinking about this and never quite having the nerve to do it. Some part time job that I can forget about as soon as I leave and is just five minutes away would be my dream. :e2cloud9: I've got it worked out how much in the way of royalties I'd have to have coming in steadily to cut down to four days at work, then three, then two, etc. The problem with royalties is of course, they aren't steady! They go up and down. Different publishers pay them at different intervals. If you're used to a fixed salary every month that can be pretty stressful!

I've seen it said that to give up other work entirely and try to become a full time writer you either need a cushion of two years salary in the bank, or a spouse/partner who is earning enough to keep you both. I know a few friends who have the latter (lucky devils!) :D

Aside from the absolute top of the ladder people, even quite well known writers may not be able to live entirely on earnings from their books and many of the famous ones will also do journalism, or academic teaching, and of course can charge fees for appearances.

jaksen
03-26-2014, 04:57 PM
Well, to be honest, I can't imagine quitting a teaching job after one year. I taught 35 years, and yes, the first ten to twenty were tough, but I can think of no other job where you get two months off each year. (I had July and August; June we taught nearly to the end of the month.)

I also had Christmas, a week; February, another week; April, another week. My hours were 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM. An hour commute - thirty minutes each way. I also had three children, one of whom is severely disabled.

I wrote from 5:00 to 6:00 AM most mornings. I also wrote on weekends and vacations. Sometimes at night, but I am a morning person.

Would I have sold more had I left teaching? Perhaps. But my paycheck was needed so I worked. I also need to say I wasn't an English teacher, but I had labs to set up and clean up after almost every day. (Yes, I was a damn middle school science teacher, one who made her students 'do something' every day. We did complex stuff, too. And I didn't have lab assistants, not at that age.) And I made them write. Lab reports, research papers. Sometimes I was correcting more papers than my English-teaching colleagues. On average, I was responsible for 120 students each academic year.

Anyhow, I found teaching to be exhilarating, and not everyone feels that way, I know. I loved the enthusiasm of the kids, and the fact that they never grew older. Every year, new kids, new energy, new ideas. I also got many of my writing ideas from them.

However, your situation might be drastically different than mine, and if you can make a go of writing, then do it.

(I bet your starting salary was better than mine. Mine was 6K a year. And even the year I was hired that was considered poverty wage.)

WendyN
03-26-2014, 05:38 PM
Well, I'm a former teacher as well, and one who came to the very tough conclusion that in order to be the kind of teacher I wanted to be, I'd have to give up too many of the other things I wanted for my life (and I'm not talking monetary things -- I got paid well when I was teaching). So yeah, I understand. Teaching is such a demanding, time-consuming, all-encompassing job, and there's such a learning curve for new teachers that yes, it does get easier, but you have to be willing to put in the 5 or 10 or 20 years until it does. For me, I decided that my priorities were elsewhere, but I have so much more respect now for people that can tough it out past those early years. Veteran teachers rock.

Myrealana
03-26-2014, 05:52 PM
I have not quit my job, but I have passed up the opportunity to take a more demanding, considerably higher paying job primarily because I thought that job would not leave me time for writing.

It was the right decision for me because I need to keep writing, and I didn't need the money. Sure, the money would have been nice, but my family is doing fine, so why give up something I love just for more money?

I would never quit to focus on my writing unless I had a stream of income I could count on, or unless my salary was not needed to support my family.

Little Anonymous Me
03-26-2014, 06:15 PM
I'm in the process of obtaining my education degree, and I firmly believe it's one of those jobs you have to love to do. If you aren't passionate about it, or enthused to be there, the students can tell. I can't imagine not teaching. My time with my students is the light of my week. I wake up every day excited to be with them and see them grow.

If you feel about writing as I do about teaching, then yes, you made the right decision. As I don't know your circumstances, I cannot say if it was rash for you to do so without having a new job lined up, but I hope you can find one that allows you to pursue your writing.

Jamesaritchie
03-26-2014, 06:49 PM
I don't think it should have anything to do with writing. If you're in a job you hate, then quit. Life is too short to spend it doing something you hate. A few years ago, we had five teachers in our family. Two quit and found completely unrelated to teaching jobs. They now love what they do. Two others left the public school system and found jobs at a small private school where they get twice the money for about a third of the work. The fourth is a high school English teacher in the public school system. She's been at it for about six years, and she's already burnt out, and casting around for a different kind of work.

Time did not make it easier for any of them, it made everything worse.

We all need to make a living, but I see no reason that we should do so by doing something we hate.

If you can afford to do so, spend six months or a year absolutely writing your butt off, and see what happens. If you can't afford to do nothing but write for six months to a year, find the least stressful job around, and still write your butt off. Maybe even a part time job.

But whatever you do, take advantage of no longer teaching, and write.

Shadow_Ferret
03-26-2014, 07:29 PM
My only question would be, do you have another job lined up? In this economy, even if you loath your job, quitting without already having another job lined up is foolhardy.

I mean, I completely understand dreading getting up each morning to go to a job you can't stand. (Although quitting a job you've made a dedicated career choice for after only one year is odd.) You did mention "for a less demanding job" so I hope you do have something to fall back on.

But I don't know. Summers off! ;)

Jamesaritchie
03-26-2014, 08:40 PM
My only question would be, do you have another job lined up? In this economy, even if you loath your job, quitting without already having another job lined up is foolhardy.

I mean, I completely understand dreading getting up each morning to go to a job you can't stand. (Although quitting a job you've made a dedicated career choice for after only one year is odd.) You did mention "for a less demanding job" so I hope you do have something to fall back on.

But I don't know. Summers off! ;)

Has there ever been a time when someone didn't say "in this economy"? I've heard this phrase pretty much every year since I was old enough to read. Usually each and every time the subject of jobs came up.

It's never foolhardy to quit something you hate, if you believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you sometimes have to follow Ray Bradbury's advice, whatever the economy. First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down.

Those afraid to do this will probably get old long, long before they get happy.

Those willing to take chances on themselves most often learn there wasn't anything to be afraid of, anyway. Really, what's the worst that could happen to someone young enough to be a first year teacher?

Those "summers off" aren't quite all they're cracked up to be, either. Many states are going to year round school. Mine has.

And as one of the teachers in my family said, that time off is a complete illusion. When she added up the hours she worked after the school day was over, she put in well over two months each year after she got home from school. And when she divided her income by hours worked, she was making a buck and a half over minimum wage. And this didn't count commute time, of course, or even weekend time, and there was a lot of weekend time.

As for only being a teacher for a year, how long does it take to learn you hate something? I can't remember hearing a teacher say it got any better the second year, or the fifth year. or the tenth year.

I suspect teaching is something you love, or something you hate. If you hate it, jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.

What the heck, you're just going to bounce, even if you do hit bottom.

Phaeal
03-26-2014, 09:14 PM
I opted for a job that's demanding while I'm at it, but which puts no after-work obligations on me. That's worked out fine. I put in the hours, then I'm free.

As long as big money and prestige aren't your goals (unless earned via your writing, of course!), a day job that's strictly day and that pays enough in salary and benefits to keep you self-sufficient, there's a sweet option.

Wilde_at_heart
03-26-2014, 09:48 PM
Has there ever been a time when someone didn't say "in this economy"? I've heard this phrase pretty much every year since I was old enough to read. Usually each and every time the subject of jobs came up.

The late 90s. Apparently people were having high-paying jobs thrown at them, though none ever landed on me. Wrong place at the time, maybe, or entered the workforce a couple of years to early...

However less demanding jobs are a lot harder to find than one might think. If it isn't the job itself, it's the politics or some other thing, it seems.

AshleyEpidemic
03-26-2014, 10:22 PM
I opted for a job that's demanding while I'm at it, but which puts no after-work obligations on me. That's worked out fine. I put in the hours, then I'm free.

As long as big money and prestige aren't your goals (unless earned via your writing, of course!), a day job that's strictly day and that pays enough in salary and benefits to keep you self-sufficient, there's a sweet option.

This is what I do. I'm not too fond of my job, but for the most part the hours keep me content because I can do what I please. That additional time keeps me at the job, while my dream job requires breaking in to it. I'm working on it, but until then I have something that pays bills.

Shadow_Ferret
03-26-2014, 11:44 PM
Has there ever been a time when someone didn't say "in this economy"? I've heard this phrase pretty much every year since I was old enough to read. Usually each and every time the subject of jobs came up .
Yes, there have been lots of times where the economy wasn't in the dumper. We've had minor blips, recessions, stagnation, but since 2009, thus economy really has gone south. I was unemployed for 2 years and had to go back with a significant wage cut. We're still trying to get back on track.

So for me, "in this economy" isn't some empty platitude, its a "nearly lost my house and everything" reality that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Jamesaritchie
03-27-2014, 12:12 AM
Yes, there have been lots of times where the economy wasn't in the dumper. We've had minor blips, recessions, stagnation, but since 2009, thus economy really has gone south. I was unemployed for 2 years and had to go back with a significant wage cut. We're still trying to get back on track.

So for me, "in this economy" isn't some empty platitude, its a "nearly lost my house and everything" reality that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Maybe, but there's never been a time when someone didn't complain about the economy being in the dumpster. Nor a time when many didn't go two or three or five years without finding a good job. It happens.

Even now, what, 93% of all working age people have a job? I'll take those odds. Especially when five percent of all working age people are considered unemployable.

But the point is not to let the economy make you keep a job you hate because of fear. There's always money out there, always work, always success, if you're willing to believe in yourself, and take a chance.

People even became rich and wildly successful in the middle of the great depression.

The OP is young, and has a college degree, and a first year teacher's salary is not hard to replace.

veinglory
03-27-2014, 12:14 AM
What is this less demanding job?

Shadow_Ferret
03-27-2014, 12:51 AM
Even now, what, 93% of all working age people have a job? I'll take those odds. Especially when five percent of all working age people are considered unemployable.
Where did you come up with 93% are employed? A 7% unemployment rate doesn't mean 93% are working. Unemployment only counts people ACTIVELY seeking work and on the UI rolls. If you run out if unemployment insurance, but don't have a job yet, you aren't counted in the 7%. So everyone who has given up LOOKING for work is no longer counted at unemployed. Therefore you can't take the 7% and extrapolate that to mean 93% are working. It doesn't calculate that way.

And conventional wisdom, given by any job expert, is to have a new job lined up before you quit your old one. Just jumping blindly off the cliff isn't conducive to success, no matter who you quote about sprouting wings. Its a nice thought to think we'll all bounce, but many of us don't. We break a hip.

veinglory
03-27-2014, 12:58 AM
Indeed, if only to assure that the job you get is in fact less demanding. For example I found jobs with more manual labor actually made me more brain dead at the end of the day than jobs that required a lot of mental calculation.

kaitie
03-27-2014, 02:05 AM
I'm in the process of obtaining my education degree, and I firmly believe it's one of those jobs you have to love to do. If you aren't passionate about it, or enthused to be there, the students can tell. I can't imagine not teaching. My time with my students is the light of my week. I wake up every day excited to be with them and see them grow.

If you feel about writing as I do about teaching, then yes, you made the right decision. As I don't know your circumstances, I cannot say if it was rash for you to do so without having a new job lined up, but I hope you can find one that allows you to pursue your writing.

I just want to expand on this and say it does depend on the job. I LOVE teaching. Adore it. I've had many times when I am excited to go to class, I enjoy it, and it's incredibly rewarding and satisfying. One place I work at right now is this type of class. Going to them just puts me in a good mood because the classes are so much fun.

The other place I work, though, seems to become more of a cesspit with every new class. Lack of support from the higher ups, students who put in no effort, who don't want to be there, and who are confrontational about getting poor grades. The fact that I get paid so little that I don't get summers off in spite of having two jobs doesn't help. And I'm not someone who is a spender, either. We've already done all the little "how to save money" tricks, I don't have credit cards, etc. I just get paid that little. Really sucks when I'm still trying to pay back those student loans from getting the masters degree I needed to land this incredibly low paying job. (seriously. I'd get paid more if I was a secretary).

Having a passion for teaching is a must, but so much depends on what you're teaching, and where, and who, and so on. I hope I never have to quit teaching the classes I'm in love with. The others I'm counting down the days until I can finally cut back because it's soul crushing.

gothicangel
03-27-2014, 02:13 AM
And conventional wisdom, given by any job expert, is to have a new job lined up before you quit your old one. Just jumping blindly off the cliff isn't conducive to success, no matter who you quote about sprouting wings. Its a nice thought to think we'll all bounce, but many of us don't. We break a hip.

I don't what the rules are in the US, but in the UK if you resign from your job you can't claim unemployment benefits for 6 months (maybe more?) I've just been unemployed for 5 months, and have hardly written a thing because I was so stressed. Only now that I am starting back at work next week have I got my game on again (figures.)

Personally, as a graduate of three years I'm sick of low paid, temporary work (highest wage I've found is 13,000 a year.) I have no security. I'm actually thinking the other way, training to become and English teacher. What I want to do is teach Adult Education/literacy, but from what I gather I think I need a few years of teaching GCSE and A-level in a school, then take another course.

And Veinglory is right. I've worked in hospitality/catering, retail and sales and after an eight hours shift (including up to an hour commute each way), I normally end up flaking out on the sofa.

Shadow_Ferret
03-27-2014, 02:25 AM
In America, if you resign, you can't claim UI benefits at all. Although that might be a state by state issue. I know in my state you can't claim them.

Little Anonymous Me
03-27-2014, 02:42 AM
I just want to expand on this and say it does depend on the job. I LOVE teaching. Adore it. I've had many times when I am excited to go to class, I enjoy it, and it's incredibly rewarding and satisfying. One place I work at right now is this type of class. Going to them just puts me in a good mood because the classes are so much fun.

The other place I work, though, seems to become more of a cesspit with every new class. Lack of support from the higher ups, students who put in no effort, who don't want to be there, and who are confrontational about getting poor grades. The fact that I get paid so little that I don't get summers off in spite of having two jobs doesn't help. And I'm not someone who is a spender, either. We've already done all the little "how to save money" tricks, I don't have credit cards, etc. I just get paid that little. Really sucks when I'm still trying to pay back those student loans from getting the masters degree I needed to land this incredibly low paying job. (seriously. I'd get paid more if I was a secretary).

Having a passion for teaching is a must, but so much depends on what you're teaching, and where, and who, and so on. I hope I never have to quit teaching the classes I'm in love with. The others I'm counting down the days until I can finally cut back because it's soul crushing.

Oh yes. I went to one of those high schools. To put it in perspective: someone set part of the building on fire. During the school day. And there was virtually no reaction beyond 'put it out' because it was so normal for things on that level to happen. I've known teachers who were maced, assaulted, etc. There are some shit places to teach. But to me, OP's dislike of the job seemed more to do with the work and hours than 'I have students who've failed grade 9 three times,' though I may be absolutely wrong. Regardless, I'd never encourage someone to pursue something they've found makes them unhappy.

I'm sorry you're having such a rotten time with some of your classes. :Hug2: Bad administration is the worst thing to fight with.

Ken
03-27-2014, 02:47 AM
In one of his books on writing John Gardner ranked teaching low in terms of a conducive job for writers to have. So you are in good company. Gardner's, "Grendel" is considered a classic !

akiwiguy
03-27-2014, 04:01 AM
If you can afford to do so, spend six months or a year absolutely writing your butt off, and see what happens. If you can't afford to do nothing but write for six months to a year, find the least stressful job around, and still write your butt off. Maybe even a part time job.

But whatever you do, take advantage of no longer teaching, and write.

I think this is solid advice.

Because, regarding this...


It's never foolhardy to quit something you hate, if you believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you sometimes have to follow Ray Bradbury's advice, whatever the economy. First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down.

Those afraid to do this will probably get old long, long before they get happy.


...the fact is that the OP has already jumped off the cliff, and the worst thing to do after making a life-changing decision involving risk is to then freeze in a state of "what if". Everyone faces fear of the unknown at different points of our lives, and if not overcome can become like a debilitating cancer.

Abandoning the status-quo, "security" I guess (and that word can prove to be a frickin' big illusion as it happens), is always scary...but I'll hazard a guess that no matter where it takes you, you won't end up on a park bench. But the point is, regardless of any other decisions you might have to make along the way to bring some money in, you did this so you can write...so do it!

ArcticFox
03-27-2014, 05:12 AM
Wow! I didn't expect this much response! OP here and I am feeling like I wasn't clear enough on what my situation exactly is and I hope I can clarify some things and respond to some comments.

Information

- I am 34 (So, not exactly that young!)
- I have a Master's Degree ( I am hoping this will help in the job hunt!)
- I am married and have discussed this situation extensively with my husband. He has a good full-time job, and we figure if I make about $1,500 a month we can pay all bills and save $1,000 per month. Obviously more would be better, but we would be fine and saving.
- We own our house (My husband inherited it!) So, we don't have mortgage or rent.
- We also managed to pay off our students loans so we are debt free there.
- We also own our cars, so we basically just have property taxes, utilities and living expenses.
- We don't have kids, just two dogs that act like kids! :)
- Yes, I know my situation is very, very lucky!
- I will still be getting paid through July even though the school year ends in May (That's just how it works). So, that gives me five months to find something before I am not getting paid anything, and even then we have quite a bit in savings and we have enough to last us about a year I think before we get low enough on that it makes us nervous. Since we have been saving for a year or more and we still have some of the inheritance left.


Comments - I am going to try to go in order

gothicangel

- I have been paid for my work before and recently graduated from a great audition-only writing workshop (Odyssey).

- My commute is one hour each way, so I would have to get up at 4 a.m. to write before school and I don't get home until 6 p.m. which would be gotten rid of if I worked another job. I thought about trying to make time, but between grading, lesson plans and everything else there just isn't any!

Chris P

- Less stress for me. Much, much less work at home to do, so I can concentrate on other things. A smaller commute, more time at home. Lots of things, but I really do think that my writing is a big and good enough reason for me. I just don't feel like I have the time or creative energy to juggle two careers and I picked the one that occupies my mind and I enjoy.

- I am hoping whatever job I get will also bring me new experiences.

Kylabelle

- Thank you!

Becky Black

- Well, my job would be full-time, but I get your point!

- Fortunately, we do have a little savings and I have a very supportive husband.

jaksen

- The first TEN-TWENTY were tough?! Wow! Now I know I made the right decision. Oy. "Hold on it gets better after 10-20 years" LOL!

- Vacations? Ha! I have spent all that time lesson planning, training, grading etc. Weekends? Hahahahahahahahhaha! *wipes tears*

- Don't get me wrong there are aspects I love. I just felt like I had to make a choice, ya know? Not enough time or energy for both in my case!

WendyN

- EXACTLY! This is me. Everything you said is what I am feeling. To do my job the way it deserves to be done it would require sacrifices I am not sure I was willing to make. I decided my priorities were elsewhere.

Myrealana

- Yes, I think you get where I am coming from. We are doing fine, so I don't really need to do something big and I am much happier focusing on what I want to focus on - writing.

Little Anonymous Me

- I totally agree. Hence my decision!

Jamesaritichie

- Well, I am going to try to find something, but I have a bit of a cushion in terms of time for that to happen!Yes to everything you said about teaching!

Shadow_Ferret

- I don't have a job yet, but I have a cushion and about 5 months before I need to have one. After that we have a bit of savings to work with.

Jamesaritchie

- EXACTLY!

Phael

- YES! That is what I am thinking. When I say non-demanding job. That is what I mean. I go do my work and go home and don't have to think about it! I am thinking maybe a receptionist or something like that! I will have to look around! That is exactly what I want money and prestige outside of writing aren't my goals. My goal is to make as much time as I can to write.

Wilde_at_heart

See above for what I mean by non-demanding: Pays me enough and the hours are the hours! No take-home stuff.

AshleyEpidemic

- Yup!

Little Anonymous Me

You're right it's the work and hours, not the kids. That's the part I love.

Ken

Nice!


General Comments

Well, I hope I made clear what I mean when I say non-demanding. I don't necessarily think of manual labor, retail or anything. I just mean something that is 9-5 M-F and that IS IT! And it pays about $1,500 a month. I won't have to worry about unemployment or anything like that I don't think. We have some savings.

Phew! Hope that helps and thanks for commenting everybody!

Little Anonymous Me
03-27-2014, 05:43 AM
Wow! I didn't expect this much response! OP here and I am feeling like I wasn't clear enough on what my situation exactly is and I hope I can clarify some things and respond to some comments.

Knowing all that, yes, you most certainly made the right call. Good luck finding that 9-5 and happy writing. :)

kaitie
03-27-2014, 06:00 AM
I agree. Sounds like you have all your ducks in a row. Now I'm just going to go over here and envy you haha.

Siri Kirpal
03-27-2014, 06:30 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

You made the right decision.

My husband and I jumped from San Diego to Salem Oregon without any job in hand. We had no debts, and we had sold our first little house for a lot more than we paid for it. (This was at the start of the real estate boom, back in the late 1970s.) We both landed jobs we hated. Both of us got out; my husband into a job he turned into a career he loved; me into a job I hated almost as much. I eventually dropped out of the work force when we determined we could afford for me too. It was a life saver (probably literally) and made possible a lot of creativity: 2 published books, one interfaith organization created, several other books written (one currently querying), a few other items. There will be times when you'll wonder if you did it right, but if you keep up, you'll have done the right thing.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Polenth
03-27-2014, 08:22 AM
I quit a well-paid job. It wasn't to focus on writing as such... I wasn't going to survive the job, as it was harming my health. But after that experience, I thought it'd be nice to have an un-demanding job and also write. The issue has been I can't get an un-demanding job. They won't employ me for things like supermarket jobs, because I'm vastly over-qualified. The assumption is I'll leave for a high-paid job in a few months and the training time will have been wasted. I also have a black mark for trying to return to the high-paid work, given that I quit the last one after a short time.

I've basically made myself unemployable. The only reason I'm not homeless is I have a family who support me. It puts a lot of pressure on my writing, as I've removed my other options for an income.

It's not that I'd change what I did, as it was the right choice to leave the other job. Any longer might have done some permanent damage. But if I'd been in a moderately okay job, I'd have tried to get the less demanding job ready so I could move without an employment break. It's easier to convince people you're not going to leave if you're coming from a job.

kaitie
03-27-2014, 05:20 PM
I've hit the overqualified hurdle before, too. It took ages to get my current jobs, and I'm afraid to leave because I worry that I won't be able to find something new, soul crushing and ridiculously underpaid or not.

Wilde_at_heart
03-27-2014, 05:42 PM
- I am 34 (So, not exactly that young!)

You're not that old either. Depending on where you live, you might be best off asking around various boutique-type shops that are relatively quiet most of the time, or very small business, where they need someone who is very reliable and can be left on their own. You could even be upfront - a warm body answering phones or doing the odd sale - but the rest of the day you're writing your novel on a laptop.

I did have one job once where I could do just that - they were quite worried having someone who'd show up on time, etc. who wouldn't get too 'bored'.

ETA:


I quit a well-paid job. It wasn't to focus on writing as such... I wasn't going to survive the job, as it was harming my health. But after that experience, I thought it'd be nice to have an un-demanding job and also write. The issue has been I can't get an un-demanding job. They won't employ me for things like supermarket jobs, because I'm vastly over-qualified.

This goes back to my earlier point though - an undemanding job isn't always that easy to find. It isn't just about being overqualified though - having known people who work as supermarket cashiers (or talking to the ones where I shop) - some of these jobs are far from being undemanding. They may not require much education or any particular skill set but they can be very taxing, stressful and tiring, especially considering how long you spend on your feet and some of the crap you have to put up with from customers. 'Flexible' shifts are another problem. On top of that, the wrong boss can turn any job into The Job From Hell.

veinglory
03-27-2014, 06:08 PM
The main reason I have never voluntarily had an employment gap is because I am single and had no savings. So no job would have meant mean living on the street in fairly short order.

Jamesaritchie
03-27-2014, 06:57 PM
The main reason I have never voluntarily had an employment gap is because I am single and had no savings. So no job would have meant mean living on the street in fairly short order.

I don't think many can live with a real employment gap, but I don't think the OP is suggesting not working. Finding a less demanding job is easy.

I'm sure we're all influenced greatly by our own life experience. I quit a number of jobs when young. I was single, had no family to fall back on, and had no savings, but it never worried me because it was originally forced on me by surviving on temporary work.

By the time I was eighteen, I'd been hitchhiking or driving all over the country. I'd worked so many part-time jobs, or jobs I quit because I wanted to go somewhere else, that I lost count. But along the way, I learned to operate a tractor, a combine, a backhoe, a bulldozer and a fork lift. I also learned to drive a semi, and fly a small plane. I became a jack of all trades, and if I mastered none, I could do any of them well enough to find work.

When I got tired of this kind of work, wanted something more exciting and dangerous, I found that kind of thing was even easier to get into, if you were willing.

I just never had a problem quitting jobs and moving on. It wasn't until I met my wife to be, got married, had a child, and settled down to a small Midwestern city that money and work became a problem. I could still find work easily enough, it just didn't pay much. Not what I needed or wanted to support a family, and I couldn't do the crazy things that did pay well because I had a wife and a child. I quickly learned that Francis Bacon was right when he said, He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune. That's when I started writing, and I quit the day job I had as soon as I received my first check from the sale of a short story.

But if writing hadn't worked out, something else would have.

I think many find the world a scarier place than it is because they've never jumped off a cliff. Certainly not often enough to learn that you really do bounce, if you hit bottom.

This is just my personal experience, but I've known many others who live, or did live, the same way.

I believe confidence and competence shows, but most people lack the first, and this means the second rarely matters.

Even the old can, and should, I think, take chances, but if you're young, healthy, have no major responsibilities such as children to take care of, and if you're intelligent and willing, I think the worst thing that can happen from taking a chance is finding out that one didn't work, so you have to try something else.

veinglory
03-27-2014, 07:11 PM
And my experience is that I have several good friends right now struggling to stay employed at all despite being able-bodied and not idiots or lazy. But I am sure OP has made this calculation for himself.

gothicangel
03-27-2014, 07:24 PM
I've hit the overqualified hurdle before, too. It took ages to get my current jobs, and I'm afraid to leave because I worry that I won't be able to find something new, soul crushing and ridiculously underpaid or not.

I think I did this to myself by going to university. I've 14 years experience in catering but since becoming a graduate no-one wants to hire me on anything longer than a six month contract. I started working in heritage and museums last year, which seem to have made the situation worse (and the work is normally seasonal - April - October.) I certainly wouldn't want to be sitting in front of a computer all day either.

Shadow_Ferret
03-27-2014, 07:34 PM
James, that sounds really cool and probably provides tons of inspiration for your writing.

But I never learned how to bounce. I don't have the kack-of-all-trades skills to fall back on. And jobs where you just walk in off the street and get hired are few and far between these days unless its something in retail. Its an employers market and they can pick and chose who they want and demand certain experience levels. And many fall back on the "overqualified" line.because they don't want to hire someone who is looking past this job to greener pastures. When I was unemployed, I got the overqualified response a lot. Then when jobs in my field opened up finally, I kept hearing my skills were now outdated. I was lucky when I did get hired because the government was giving preference to veterans.

It sounds like the OP however, is in a perfect position to make the jump, a supportive spouse, a 5 month salary cushion, and near zero debt.

Best of luck.

Jamesaritchie
03-27-2014, 08:51 PM
James, that sounds really cool and probably provides tons of inspiration for your writing.

But I never learned how to bounce. I don't have the kack-of-all-trades skills to fall back on. And jobs where you just walk in off the street and get hired are few and far between these days unless its something in retail. Its an employers market and they can pick and chose who they want and demand certain experience levels. And many fall back on the "overqualified" line.because they don't want to hire someone who is looking past this job to greener pastures. When I was unemployed, I got the overqualified response a lot. Then when jobs in my field opened up finally, I kept hearing my skills were now outdated. I was lucky when I did get hired because the government was giving preference to veterans.

It sounds like the OP however, is in a perfect position to make the jump, a supportive spouse, a 5 month salary cushion, and near zero debt.

Best of luck.

Well, filling out an application is an art unto itself, and a good application takes about as much skill as the job you're applying or.

I have a nephew who's about to turn forty-one, and he's mastered the art of filling out an application to suit the job at hand. He found and quit four low-paying junk jobs in roughly four months about three years back, using each as a stepping stone to get him a little pocket money so he could move.

When he decided he wanted to stop for a while, he got a job at a good company in a matter of weeks, and now earns about 80K.

It's always, I think, about the individual. This route is certainly not for everyone. I just believe most people can do more than they think they can do.

I always believed the best and fastest way to get a job was by making contacts, getting to know the right person, and avoiding applications whenever possible. Even if you have to put in an application, the right contact can make it a mere formality. It probably won't even get read. My nephew is excellent at this.

I found I could still do it, at even at my advanced age, when I needed to do some research on modern farm machinery and farming methods that weren't around in my day. It took about two weeks of hanging out at a local Farm Bureau to find a job harvesting corn. Two weeks to make friends with the right farmer, and then the job was a given.

I also worked for a week harvesting watermelon with immigrant workers. A week was all I could stand. Okay, four days. My back and knees just couldn't take it, but I learned what I wanted to know.

I learned almost all of my skills just by asking someone if they could teach me how to drive this, operate that, etc. I even learned the basics of bartending by hanging out in a bar, getting to know the owner and the bartenders, and then saying, "Hey, could you teach me how to do that?"

No pay for a good while, but they taught me, and I helped out whenever possible. You don't have to know much to get a customer a beer, or to sweep a floor, or to bus tables.

Whatever job I had, I'd always ask someone there to teach me something else. They always did. Manual labor jobs on farms meant I could get someone to teach me how to use all the machinery that farm used. A job packing crates at a warehouse meant I could get a guy to teach me how to drive a fork lift. On and on. People love to teach others how to do what they do, as witnessed by writing forums.

But, yeah, outside of experience at bouncing, a supportive spouse is a writer's best friend. Dean Koontz's wife agreed to support him for five years while he tried to make it s a writer. It didn't take five years, but I suspect writers all over the country were wondering where in the world he found her, and if anymore like her were out there.

Jamesaritchie
03-27-2014, 08:56 PM
And my experience is that I have several good friends right now struggling to stay employed at all despite being able-bodied and not idiots or lazy. But I am sure OP has made this calculation for himself.

Read my above post. You have to be able-bodied, but you also have to be friendly, which means being able to make friends easily, and you have to be skilled.

I can't remember the old rule exactly, but it's something like, "If you do your job well, and also do someone else's job at every opportunity, you'll be the last one fired."

juniper
03-27-2014, 10:29 PM
Information

- I am 34 (So, not exactly that young!)
- I have a Master's Degree ( I am hoping this will help in the job hunt!)
- I am married and have discussed this situation extensively with my husband. He has a good full-time job, and we figure if I make about $1,500 a month we can pay all bills and save $1,000 per month. Obviously more would be better, but we would be fine and saving.
- We own our house (My husband inherited it!) So, we don't have mortgage or rent.
- We also managed to pay off our students loans so we are debt free there.
- We also own our cars, so we basically just have property taxes, utilities and living expenses.
- We don't have kids, just two dogs that act like kids! :)
- Yes, I know my situation is very, very lucky!
- I will still be getting paid through July even though the school year ends in May (That's just how it works). So, that gives me five months to find something before I am not getting paid anything, and even then we have quite a bit in savings and we have enough to last us about a year I think before we get low enough on that it makes us nervous. Since we have been saving for a year or more and we still have some of the inheritance left.

Not sure why you're even worried about leaving a job, when you're in a good situation like this. :Shrug:

You said you enjoy teaching, so maybe you could be a substitute?

Ken
03-27-2014, 11:22 PM
I can't remember the old rule exactly, but it's something like, "If you do your job well, and also do someone else's job at every opportunity, you'll be the last one fired."

It's funny, but this isn't always advantageous. If you show that you are a good employee with a lot of ability what can happen is that you begin getting more responsibilities for the same pay and same position.

Act like a dolt who can barely handle the job they have and your workload stays the same and your job remains easy and believe it or not you wind up being liked as you are not a competitive threat to anybody.

Of course if you are serious about your job and want to make a career out of it this is not the way to go about things. It is a good strategy for a writer though. The easier the job the better.

Jamesaritchie
03-28-2014, 02:49 AM
It's funny, but this isn't always advantageous. If you show that you are a good employee with a lot of ability what can happen is that you begin getting more responsibilities for the same pay and same position.

Act like a dolt who can barely handle the job they have and your workload stays the same and your job remains easy and believe it or not you wind up being liked as you are not a competitive threat to anybody.

Of course if you are serious about your job and want to make a career out of it this is not the way to go about things. It is a good strategy for a writer though. The easier the job the better.

Being willing to take on more responsibility for the same pay and same position is the best way to keep a job. I've found other employees don't see you as a threat if most of the extra work you do is helping them. Do it right, and you're just being nice.

If you have a free minute or five, help one of them carry out those big bags of trash on a cold, rainy night. When another employee looks tired, or has some task they really hate doing, say, "You look beat. Let me do that."

If you have a work area you're responsible for cleaning at the end of the day, clean it, and then help someone else clean theirs while you're making chit chat with them.

Don't be competitive, don't even think about sucking up to the boss. Just be nice, and be helpful. The boss will notice, and the other employees, or most of them, will love you for it.

And when you say, "Can you teach me how to do that?", they'll teach you how to do that.

Even if you hate your job, you need to work like you love it, like it's teh most fun you ever had, and you need to be nice, and be helpful. When you quit a job, everyone there should be sorry to see you go.

Though I will admit, I darned near got fired for working too hard once. I was new, and started unloading semis. I unloaded two before a couple of other guys who had worked there for years unleaded one. It seems they had a system to make it look like they were working a lot harder than they really were. They complained to the boss that I spent more time sitting than working, and since I was new, he almost fired me. Fortunately, the boss asked the semi drivers about it. He fired the two who made the complaint.

They weren't missed by anyone.

But, yeah, a workplace of any size may have some people who won't like those who come in and show them up, but I wasn't trying to do that. I just worked at the same pace I worked at every job. I had no idea it would get me in trouble.

Ken
03-28-2014, 04:00 AM
You're probably right. My assessments have a habit of being a bit off. This is a great way to be in any event:



If you have a free minute or five, help one of them carry out those big bags of trash on a cold, rainy night. When another employee looks tired, or has some task they really hate doing, say, "You look beat. Let me do that."

ps Unloading Semis is hard work. I've done it in the past. Probably the hardest job, next too digging ditches for pipes. That was torture.

I guess in summary I have a rather bleak outlook with jobs. They all seem to come to an end in time for one reason or another. So what I do is try to improve my skills, similar to what you did so that when the time comes I have that much more to offer when applying for the next. Hopefully one day it'll be a manuscript rather than confounded resume that'll get me a job and that'll be that :-)

angeliz2k
03-28-2014, 08:01 PM
This is a very interesting discussion.

I'm at a slightly different point but am running into a similar dilemma. I like my job, and though I'm not getting rich, I make enough to get by, rent a shared apartment, and have some extra money for going to the movies or traveling occasionally.

But my real passion is history. There are two problems: there's no money in history-related jobs (if I went that route, I'd be taking steps backwards, pay-wise) AND I have no formal history credentials (though my knowledge of history is pretty much graduate-degree level). I could go back to school part time while I work, but it would cost me that nice financial cushion and, perhaps more importantly, all my free time. I'd have to give up writing for a while, and I don't know if I can do that . . . But I'm left wondering where I can go from my current job, which really has no clear career path onwards.

I know, however, that no matter what happens I'm not giving this job up unless I have something better lined up. I am more or less my only resource, though my family would help me in a pinch. Until it pays more than my current job, writing is only a hobby. Right now, it pays zero.