Writing And The Mixed Blessing Of A Day Job

Many people have asked why I blog and give away so much information for free as well as the inevitable question, how do I make an income. Well, like most of you, I have a day job. I actually work four days a week in the IT department of a multi-national company. Yes, I’m in a cubicle!

My blogging, writing, podcasting, videos and social networking are all still currently an alternative life, although increasingly I feel like it is my ‘real’ life. I’m passionate about writing, books and the publishing industry so I don’t talk much about the day job generally. I am moving towards a tipping point where I could make it full-time as a blogger/writer/speaker but I currently find the day job a mixed blessing, as follows.

  • I can write what I love to write. I’m not driven by the need for money so I don’t have to write freelance. I don’t have to worry about the outcome of what I’m writing because it’s for pleasure, fun and the future. I loved writing Pentecost, I had so much fun. I don’t know if I could have done that without the freedom to write what I love. If I’d been fixated on writing for income, I would have focused on different goals. Writing a novel took a great deal of energy I could have used to write and launch other products for more income, but would not have advanced my fiction writing aspirations.
  • The bills are paid so there is less stress around the time-lines for writing/blogging success. I’m trying to build a brand and a reputation and as a writer and blogger, that takes years. I can’t speed the process up so I’m happy to earn elsewhere and spend time doing this for fun and building for the future.
  • The balance between writing and other work means I keep my passion alive. When I lived in New Zealand, I started a scuba diving business based around the Poor Knights Islands, a fantastic place for divers. I’m a PADI Divemaster and I love diving, I had contacts and it seemed like an amazing lifestyle. But the practicalities of living the dream meant that I didn’t dive so much. It became more like a job and not something to do for fun or relaxation. For many reasons, that business failed and I learned a lot in the process. But currently, writing is a great hobby i.e. something I love but I’m not doing for the money. I definitely want to become a pro writer and earn 100% of income from books, blogging and speaking but that’s still a way off. In the meantime, I want to continue writing for love.
  • Social life and real world interaction. I have good friends at my day job. When the floods happened in Brisbane and we all worked from home for 10 days, I missed seeing them all. I work in a huge office but have a core group of work buddies. When I work from home for too long I miss the social interaction and the laughter. It makes me consider one of those writer’s offices or freelance workplaces when I do make it pro!
  • Working elsewhere creates a desire and drive to write as I have to fit it into spare moments. I compare this to when I took three months off work in order to write a novel and didn’t write anything worthwhile. It was depressing and demoralizing and stopped me writing for nearly five years. I couldn’t create anything when I had unlimited time. There are many studies on how creativity is boosted when there are boundaries. It somehow helps the mind create rather than hinders it.
  • To be honest, I like my job. Shock horror! Three years ago, I wrote “How to Enjoy Your Job” which is a self-help book aimed at helping people enjoy their current work, discover what they want to do with their lives and change careers. I wrote it for myself as I was desperately miserable and stressed. I hated my job at that point. Writing the book kick-started the process that has led me here to you. It has led to my first novel, a speaking career and a growing online business. It helped me change my attitude to the day job. I moved to four days a week, my stress migraines disappeared and my health improved as well as my marriage and general happiness. I am primarily a writer, blogger and speaker but I’m also an IT business consultant with 13 years international consulting experience. I like the intellectual challenge of my work and being surrounded by smart people is stimulating. To learn more on how to change your life, check out this interview.

So, the day job is a mixed blessing for me. It gives me income, freedom to write and friends but it takes time from the writing career I’m trying to grow.

What do you feel about your day job? Does it help you or hinder you in your writing?


This is a reprint from Joanna Penn‘s The Creative Penn.