Tag Archives: work

Proper Job!

A wise writer once said to me that it’s not so much the pram in the hall that’s the impediment to a writing career, but the bills on the door-mat. Money worries are the bane of creativity. And unless independently wealthy, the emerging writer will have to make a living while waiting for that book/film deal (and probably for a while after that fact too). Writers need to work; the question is what kind of jobs are out there?

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Many will consider other (more lucrative) forms of writing to bring home the bucks. Journalism is an obvious choice and is still, probably, the most common second career for many creative writers. Moreover, a journalistic background provides marvellous training re editing and brevity of approach. Copy-writing, particularly website copy, is also a popular income booster for writer but both copy-writing and journalism are less satisfying forms of writing for the creative writer and spending all day writing on the day job can make it difficult to come home and do the same at night.

Teaching English and/or creative writing is another common earner for writers. My TEFL training and experience has given me a sound grip of grammar and the intricacies of the English language – all of which is of great practical use to a writer. A TEFL teacher also (usually) travels and such experiences can feed into your work. Teaching creative writing allows you to deconstruct the tools of creative writing, which may benefit your own writing. However, you usually need a track record of publication before you begin to look for work in this area.

It is not uncommon for writers to work a mundane job such as on a factory line or as a manual labourer. Such tasks sit quite well with a writing career as they give the writer time to think, to let ideas bubble and boil ready to write down after the shift has finished. Also, with a job so utterly removed from writing, you will be fresh and eager to sit at your laptop of an evening. The downside of any brain numbing, repetitive work is that it has no status. This fact should not be important but it is because writers are human, so for a writer to stay in a lowly job, s/he needs determination, focus and confidence in their reason for doing this type of work.

Writers, of course, come from all walks of life and all career backgrounds. For those of you who may be considering giving up your job to write full time, you need to remember that you’ll (most likely) still need to make a living. Maybe the job you have is not glamorous or interesting, but these are often the best complementary jobs for writing. So, if you really want to be a writer, the greatest sacrifice you make may be NOT giving up the day job –  but staying with it.

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All Cut Up

Hole cut in Liverpool building. Now you see it…

I’m going under the knife today. Nothing too serious, a day procedure, though it does involve a general anaesthetic. To be honest, the most stressful part is trying to figure a to-fro from the hospital, being alone and carless in this country as I am. And I’ve got a lot of work to do when (and however) I get back from the op – with a re-write due on a play, a funding application pending deadline and a rake of bills and repairs due on my Budapest flats as well as organising for a dinner party tomorrow (yes, I know it’s dumb timing but it’s the first time in my four years in Norwich that I’ll have my aunt and uncle in town for the night so don’t want to miss the opportunity of having family around).

Coincidentally, it was this same aunt who once told me that if you put a red circle round a date on a calendar it attracts other happenings like flies. And these stressful moments often make me think about the career I’ve chosen. And the sacrifices I’ve made for it (see alone and carless mentioned above).

I have made a lot of sacrifices, that of a family for instance, and the chance of financial security (considering I have no independent wealth or spousal support, nor do I stand to inherit anything at any stage in my life). So, yeah, at moments like this, especially when facing a surgeon’s knife, one does start to ask one’s self why one does what one does…

I do it for rather selfish reasons, rather than the altruism of contributing to society. I do it because writing gets me happy and, to some extent, keeps me sane. And my writing is the only thing that never lets me down. People will disappoint, I’ll let myself down sometimes, but my art is there and constant and always offers solace, comfort and a new trip with every project.  And not having family, my stories and plays are my kids, they’re me passing it on to you. Such reasoning will probably not make sense to most, but it will to fellow artists. We do it because that is what we do and who we are, and we want to do it well and because in the end, our art is always worth it.

Now you don’t…