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Working for the win: Becoming a better writer through the work we do

By Tighearnan

I have had a lot of different jobs, from selling beds to shelving books and even flipping burgers. I have had a lot of jobs partly because I’m still working to find my niche, partly because flipping burgers pays significantly less shelving books. As a writer I’ve found my work environments have influenced my writing and helped me to build useful relationships.

You’ll find your way

It took me years of work to realise what I wanted to do with my life and even now that I’m an author, I’m also a partner in my own publishing house and a librarian! Would I like to be just one thing? Yes. Do I know what that would be? Well… also yes but it took me years of solid work to realise how much wanted to do what I want to do and how important it was to commit.

So don’t be too concerned if your first job is not exactly what you wanted. It’s a rare case to find someone who is in the job they will occupy for life, particularly at an early age. Keep working and you’ll find your niche.

It’s important to work

Don’t starve for your art, it’s a little clichéd and a lot irresponsible. Think about it, if you’re living and not working someone is paying for it. Don’t you think they would like to explore their artistic side, don’t they deserve happiness? Yes they do, so don’t rely on others, earn your own dough.

When you work you get into good rhythms and figure out the best way for you to work, at your job and at your writing. Work for a while and you will start to figure out how to find the time you need to do things you want as well as the things you need. Really useful when you need to edit you own work or meet an important deadline.

Take your experience with you

The best part about being out in the wide world is you get to meet people who you wouldn’t normally hang out with. Some of the best friends I have made have come from some of the ‘worst’ jobs because you can’t hide who you are in a less than ideal situation.

Not only does meeting different people grow your social circle and build you networks. The people you meet can inspire the characters that you write about. I’ve met my characters at bus stops, on the other side of a counter and even flipping burgers. Meeting these people in person doesn’t just help you to build a character profile it helps you empathise with them on a personal level. This will come across in your writing.

You aren’t the only one

Everyone has to work at some stage in the life and a lot of the work you do, won’t be satisfying. A lot of authors have had to work odd jobs: William Faulkner is said to have written ‘As I lay dying’ on quiet night at the office, Jack Kerouac was dishwasher, Franz Kafka was a clerk and Agatha Christie worked as an assistant to apothecary.

The thing about work, is you need to adapt yourself to your organisations goals, sometimes your ideas will be accepted and praised, sometimes they will be rejected. Dealing with rejection is important, because you will face it often in your artistic career. Better to learn how to take rejection while you’re being paid then getting rejected for free.

Finally

Remember, it’s important to keep perspective, if you’ve worked your fill and just want to write, do it, you’ve earned your chance to fulfill your potential. But you if you haven’t worked much and need some perspective doing a job is a great place to start.

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4 replies »

  1. I wrote poetry as a storeman packer and later as a teacher! This helped me cope with the drudgery of both occupations. I still write today even as someone who is self employed (feel feel to substitute old and on the poverty line) Surroundings determine our focus as writers comes down to will you write in favor of what you see in the present or what you hope will be?

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