Friday, July 15, 2011

Writing and the Day Job

My day job is an occasional topic I cover on Twitter. As much as you can talk about anything in 140 characters or less, that is, which means one coherent, sentence-length complaint.

That sounds like I have only complaints for the day job, of course, but that's not true. My job not only pays the bills and then some, but it's also quite frequently fun. I like the people I work with. I travel to different countries, expenses paid. And I enjoy some great challenges to my creativity. Cool, right? Right. I love that.

The only thing I gripe about is the workload, and that's because I'm a writer, so I have a "second job." I like to call it my "real job" in my head, where I can also pretend I'm tall and rich. Imagination is a great thing. But as usual, I digress.

Back to my point: As a person who writes for her day job, I know that the more slammed I am at work, the less energy I find myself having for my personal writing. Or the less time to spare for it. I don't like that. But a lot of us have to deal with this exact scenario. In fact, a majority of writers find themselves working a day job and fitting their writing in some-when else.

There's plenty of advice out there for how to balance your personal writing and the job that pays the bills. I'll bet you've heard it too. Get up early and write. Stay up late and write. Write on the weekends. Write on your lunch break. Write when the boss isn't looking. And all that is true. (I'll leave it up to you to decide the ethics of writing when you're supposed to be working, but I've heard people say they do it. So there it is.)

Anyway, the real issue for me isn't finding the time. It's finding (or preserving) the necessary energy. I suspect others have this problem too, but it's especially hard when you write and edit all day long for someone else. When I get off work, I have to give myself time to switch gears and rest my brain before I can come back to my writing. There's no way around it.

What has helped me the most, I suppose, is recognizing that while I do need that brief rest period, I can't afford to let it go on too long. If I read a little too long, or get busy with errands or cleaning a little too much, before I know it, time has flown and I'm ready for bed. It's a careful balancing wire I have to walk: just enough time to recharge, and then get right back into the battle of my own novel. And even this blog.

(Sorry about the battle reference, by the way. I'm just finishing Jim Butcher's Changes. Talk about fight scenes galore. Great stuff. I'm still Harry Dresden in my head at the moment. Go go, Gadget wizard.)

Bottom line: Writing my own stuff is too important to me not to do it. But writing for the day job is necessary to pay the bills. So the give-and-take in those two arenas for my brain's creativity is going to have to go on. It's all worth it. But some days it slows me down. Like today. Which is why this blog post is a little later in the day than I'd like. (About 12 hours later, to be honest.)

But... It's up. Because I am more than a gal who writes for her day job. I am a writer, period. I am the Chipper Muse. Hear me roar.

(Do chipper lions roar, by the way? Or only angry ones? I don't know. But it still adds up for the word count, doesn't it?)

How do you balance your day job and your personal writing? And if you write for your day job, like I do, what helps you recharge your creative juices? Share, share, share...

Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


  1. I have a full-time career, but luckily for me, it's not in any way writing related. I used to work freelance for many years but I found when it got to be "my time", the last thing I wanted to do was write. Now, my day-job of choice works much better for me. Once the work day is over, I'm usually excited to have the chance to get back to my writing.

  2. That's what I'm thinking, Tracey. Writing all day makes it hard to write at night too. Glad your current situation is a good balance for you!


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