Real Writers Have Day Jobs

After the Geoffrey Owens thing last week, I thought it might be interesting to talk about how creative people support themselves. Creators don’t exist in a vacuum, after all. We have bills, mortgages, relationships, and checking accounts. What am I trying to say? I’m saying real writers have day jobs, just like you.

I got curious earlier this week and decided to ask other writers about this. I started with a very simple question – “How Do You Support Yourself While Writing?” What I got back were a number of interesting insights.

Yes, real writers have day jobs. But what kind of jobs? It turns out, authors more often than not work a corporate gig somewhere. Keep that mind the next time you talk to your favorite IT guy, cybersecurity expert, developer, corporate trainer, or hotel A/V guy. They might be using your conversation as material, or turning you into a character they can murder.

I met one writer who is also an EMT, and one who works in probate registry. One way or another, many authors support themselves by helping others. Some writers teach English, like Stephen King, did. Other writers are in communications, are ghost-writers and marketers, or even chainsaw artists.

All that sounds cool on the surface but real talk: does working in writing hamper your creativity? Asking for a friend.

Many authors work in ways that are less white collar or career-focused. Some work at Trader Joes, like Geoffrey Owens did. Others are baristas or cafe managers. Sometimes this can suck, but if you have ‘easy hours and a great boss,’ you’ll get ‘lots of time/mental space to pursue your artistic endeavors.’ Still other authors are retired and living lean.

Finally, the last category – there are many writers like me, living with a disability. ” Before I got too sick to work I was finishing my masters in neurological psych and forensic psych, already had degrees in Criminal investigations and forensics. I was fast tracking for the FBI ViCAP,” says TwistedMune. “A lot of my ghostwriting jobs are psychological analysis and true crime books.” Reading that made me feel a lot better. There are a tribe of writers out there who know the struggle.

So if you’re considering a career as an author or writer, you may want to remember that writing is often what you do after you get done with work every day. It’s not all book-signings and late nights with William Strunk. However, if you’re up for the life, it can be quite rewarding.

It’s the ‘sex and cash’ theory of creative professionals. Find joy in the art, do the gig so you can do the art. I live pretty lean on my disability check, but that’s ok. I’m in love with making a chapter or a scene come together (Like the chapter of Mesh I’m working on right now, for example). The fact that I’m cruising EatCheapandHealthy for recipies is just part of the trip.

So I hope you found this interesting and insightful. Addtionally, if you’re looking for a job to support your writing, you might check out the suggestions mentioned here and here.

Write on!

Nerd Post: Bots Defeat Google Analytics

This isn’t directly related to writing, but it’s important if you run a website for your books (Looking at you, George R. R. Martin). This is a nerd post to talk about a source of frustration for me, and I imagine many other small-scale website owners: Bots defeat Google Analytics.

Anyone in the ‘writing for fun and profit‘ space will tell you that audience building is a key part of the game. You must get eyeballs and then get them to become interested in whatever it is that you’re offering. For me, it’s science fiction, but for you it could be antique cigarette lighters, bespoke suits, or Dukes of Hazzard TV trays. Who knows?

One of your key performance indicators (KPI) will always be web traffic. Like millions of other sites, I use Google Analytics. Every once in a while, I’ll fire up my GA tool to see what’s going on and I’ll find a table that looks like this:

Now let’s talk about what this table means, and what it’s supposed to tell me about my web page. Continue reading

/R/Writing Threads You Should Read Right Now

Say what you will about Reddit, there are some talented people out there, chasing the dream just like you. In writing Mesh, I’m running across many questions that have no clear answers. Swinging over to Reddit, I have my heart in my mouth knowing that it’s difficult to make connections some times. How happy I was to see that many other writers are struggling with the same questions. Maybe these will strike a chord with you, too:

Your first draft will suck. I guarantee it.

How do you fix ‘Show, Don’t Tell?’

How do you write protagonists that appeal to teenage boys? 

Short stories and breaking into the publishing world.

Reading some of these threads reminds me of the timeless advice given to Link in Zelda: It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.

Awesome Author Ideas: Supporting Yourself

Awesome Author Ideas: Support Yourself While You Write

I don’t know about you, but people have funny ideas about authors and how much they make. From time to time, I’m confronted by the myth that money isn’t something I think about, or that as an author, money just flows into my pocket like rain.

Nonsense. Authors have to pay the rent just like everyone else. Just read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. Be entertained by his tales, living in a trailer in Maine having to choose between paying for his children’s medicine and fixing the car. Or read Scalzi’s essay “Being Poor.” Yeah, we know about being broke. We know all about that.

The question remains: *how* do you keep the lights on while you pursue The Great American Novel? Writing is a tough go after a ten-hour shift at the Amazon fulfillment center. What kind of job lets you support yourself, while leaving you enough energy to create?

Inspired by this Reddit post, I want to talk about some ways you can make money while you write. Please feel free to suggest your own and I’ll be happy to add them to an edited version of this blog post: Continue reading