As some of you may know, I write “advertorials” for a local monthly magazine. What started out five years ago as four to six articles per month peaked at thirty-four and has settled out at a relatively stable twenty(ish). When I used to work full-time at a bookstore, I always wondered what it would be like to get paid for writing. I’d hoped I’d be able to write at my desk in the back of the store, but (like so many independent bookstores) we were working with a skeleton crew, and I usually handled all our regular orders, our special orders, the daily orders and shipping to & from Sandia National Labs, as well as taking my turn working on the floor and as a greeter. I ended up squeezing my writing into the late nights and the weekends, wishing I had my mornings free to write when I feel the most clear-headed.
I wish I could say that writing for a paycheck is better or worse than writing while working a different job, but the truth is…it’s just different. Sure, I spend some of the time that I would have spent working on “my” writing working on articles about chiropractors and dentists instead…but I’ve also learned the importance of giving myself deadlines, of treating writing like a committment instead of waiting on the whims of a muse, and of seizing a moment whenever you can find one. Working from home with a flexible schedule is better for my personal writing life, but sharing that home with small children is arguably worse (for the writing part, not the personal part)!
Justin Cronin told the Houston Chronicle that he treated writing “The Passage” like a job. He went into his office at nine and left at three (better hours than my last “real” job!). Have you had a job where you could also write or one that fed your creativity? Do you find that it’s helpful to mimic some of the aspects of “work” in your creative life?