By Ramona Richards
Freedom from financial stress also means freedom in your art.
—Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist
Along with “Write what you know,” “Don’t quit your day job” is the most overused–and misused–piece of advice new writers receive. And yet…quitting our day jobs to do nothing but write remains the dream of many authors, especially those who’ve sold a book or two.
The problem with this dream? For most, writing doesn’t pay enough to make that possible. In fact, most of the authors I know who DO write full time have a second income, via a pension, investments, or a supportive spouse. When I quit my corporate job a few months ago, for instance, I had a savings account and a number of freelance editorial jobs lined up. Even though I quit with the idea of writing more, I knew that editing–my day job–would make more money than the writing. At least in the beginning…
…I am a creature of great hope.
But “day jobs” have more advantages, especially for writers, than just providing financial stability.
1) They provide a routine. NEVER overlook the value of having a routine in your daily life. Even a loosely constructed one (such as I have) aids in productivity. Instead of wondering “What’s next?” you can tackle certain tasks while letting your mind wander more creatively even as you stay focused on the major job for the day.
2) They provide interaction and writing fodder. If you’re in the business of creating fascinating characters, meeting a few will fuel the artistic juices. Being with and around people who are vastly unlike yourself will add depth and intrigue to your stories. (Just avoid being seen taking notes on their behavior.)
3) They are your faith in action. It’s true that you may be the only “Bible” that some folks ever see. If people know that you feel called to write and yet you trust God to direct that–and your career–this will have an impact, even if you never know about it.
4) They give you time to plan the next steps. Never doubt, not for a minute, that you are where God wants you at this moment. Whatever He needs from you, or needs you to do, He planned it a long time before you arrived at this time. Be patient, plan, and learn from His guidance.
The bottom line is that your “day job” is not a holding pattern…nor is it holding you back. It’s a place of learning, of planning, and of teaching. It is not so much a comfort zone as a launching pad. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind on God’s direction–not your own–and He will guide you exactly to the spot you need to be.
Ramona Richards is the author of seven novels and three devotionals, including her most recent release, My Mother’s Quilts. Ramona has been an editor for more than thirty years. She now works as a freelance editor and writer from her home office in Nashville, Tennessee.