Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Way We Are: The Day Job

After some of the comments a couple of posts ago, it got me wondering what we all do for our "day job" (whether it's the kind you get paid for or not), and how much that affects our writing.

Does your other job inspire you? Teach you some aspect that's helpful for the whole writing gig? Is it conducive to reading blogs/books? Does it give your brain down-time to plot out your next scene? Did what it took to get that job help prepare you for what it takes to get a book deal? And, okay, I'll admit. Besides being curious about how much your day influences/helps/hurts your writing job, I just love to hear what people's chosen profession is. I find it fascinating!

I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours. :)

For the past whole lot of years, my main job has been that of a mom. Since I write for kids, HUGE plus there. But since kids take a lot of time... writing takes a lot of time... Let's just go ahead and acknowledge that the most awesome job in the world (IMHO) comes with time challenges, and leave it at that.

Until recently, I also worked part time with 4th graders who were struggling with language arts and math. Again, hanging out with kids: huge plus. I miss them.

But my most extensive background comes in computer software--- technical support, testing, and technical writing. Did that help? Hm..... It made me better at problem solving, and writing involves a lot of problem solving, so I guess yes. And although I did write an entire 85,000 word manual on how to use a software program for home builders associations, I can't say it helped. You might think that it would... except for the fact that a manual kind of requires you to have a complete and total absence of voice. And even POV! No using the word I, you, he/she. Sort of a different beast altogether from novel writing.

So there's mine! What's yours? Feel free to tell us your current job, or any in your past. Or, you know. Spell out your resume. That's cool, too. ;o)

42 comments:

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

My main job is SAHM and it drains me. That's the biggest downside to my job. I'm am exhausted more often than not.

But it offers me the opportunity to write inbetween things with out worrying about the company's time/money. If the kids are occupied and happy, then I can write.

Oh and if I write, I don't usually clean. It's REALLY hard for me to do both. So call me if you're coming over ;)

I'm a trained historian which helps me a lot in my writing. We wrote A TON to get my degree so research and writing were just something that I did. Plus my passion for history is with the people and the stories so that carries over as well.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I love that I wrote inbetween and with out. LOL!
I'm not the best proofreader :D

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm a stay at home mom. Best job ever and most difficult job ever. I'm with you on the time difficulties. My most recent job was working as an assistant in the speech and language department of the Ogden school district. I loved that job. Before that most of my jobs were in horticulture and floral design. I miss being able to arrange flowers but I don't miss a holiday oriented job.

Leslie Pugh said...

I'm a lot like Shelly (not the cool trained to be a historian part) but I'm a SAHM. More like the exhausted part. Until this year (when my youngest went to Kindergarten) I couldn't get much done unless my kids were occupied and then it was a choice between having a clean house or doing what I wanted to do (write, craft, etc.)

But now that all the kids are in school, life has changed a lot. I now have time during the day to both clean and manage household stuff and have some me (aka writing) time in. I love that but I'm still trying to find the balance in my time.

As far as how my day job helps, all the years of reading to/with my kids and discussing great books, characters and story lines with my kids (especially my 13 year old son) has helped me a ton. I know what type of books I'm most drawn to. I know what type of books I'd like to create and the type I actually buy to own and that's influenced my writing.

Leslie Pugh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth Josse said...

I've been a SAHM for 13 1/2 years. It's the longest I've ever stuck with a job. :) It is also hard. So hard. Writing often takes a backseat but that's okay. Kids come first and that's the way it should be. I'm like Shelly though, in that if I am writing and the kids are taken care of, then nothing else gets done. Call before you come to my house as well! I also teach piano one day a week but that's not a huge deal, besides the fact that dinner is always late that day.

Kyra Lennon said...

I am a freelance article writer - so, I'm pretty much writing all day long lol. :D

Eve said...

Well I have worked a few different jobs over the years usually in retail but my last job of over 2 years (before they dismissed me) was as a 911 Dispatcher. That I say was helpful because let me tell you it gave me so much material to use in time and a better understanding of the legal system. Plus lets face it small town and 12 hr shifts sometimes I could read a book during a single shift, others I hardly had time to run to the rest room.

Then I was unemployed for almost a year and you would think that would be great for writing but I was so stressed about not having a job and everything that I hardly wrote. Then I just couldn't it was sorta disorienting really to go from having to make each space of free time count to unlimited free time...it messed with me lol.

Though I just started a new job (on 2nd week of training) and it is as a Customer Service Rep. So I get to talk to people everyday plus the company is huge so meet new people ever day and that is cool but sadly there is no reading or anything on shift and it is a commute so we shall see if this one helps or hurts.

Steph Sessa said...

I'm a linguistic researcher at a University. It doesn't actually have a lot to do with the actual study of linguistics (mostly making sure other people have data so that they can train their language software) and is mostly managerial, so it doesn't really help my writing. But I'm going back to school to be a HS science teacher so I'll get to be around teenagers a lot, which will be great for YA.

Tonja said...

I used to do software development. I was surprised to find that the processes I used to design, write, test, and deploy software (usually juggling 4-8 projects at a time) are very applicable to writing.

I suppose I am a SAHM, but I don't think of myself that way - I'm a writer.

Jenny Morris said...

Everyone's jobs sound much better than mine. LOL. I work as a conract admin/accouting for a construction company. I think it's helped me with problem solving and learning more about people.

Elana Johnson said...

I teach elementary school, and it depends on the day if it drains me or not. Today is one of those "I need a new job, STAT!" days, so probably not the best day to judge...

Does it help? Not really. I'm writing YA, and these kids are 10. So it's a bit different.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Good points. I think any job can help you as a writer if nothing other than the people drama that seems to thrive anytime people get together.

Doing minutes is good for the technical grammar stuff of writing but is very limiting. All that inflammatory language people really use while they're screaming at the council. Dang. Can't use it.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I'm a SAHM as well. My last job was teaching harp lessons to girls from my home. I took a break from that because I got stressed out with my kids running all over the house while I taught! :) So, my job right now is taking care of my kidlets and of course, writing! :)

Loralie Hall said...

Technical writing - that takes a unique talent. I guess a lot of jobs do, but I've always had an extra level of awe for tech writers.

I'm a database developer. When I think about it, the biggest influence it's had on my writing is because I've worked with corporations for so long, I have a certain sympathy for the business side of publishing. Beyond that...my character tend to be a little more computer savvy and a little less social, because that's what I'm surrounded by.

Good post - it's fun reading all the comments ^_^

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm a gym instructor. I work one-to-one with clients at my local leisure centre (think, personal trainer, but without the pay). I spend all day telling people how to exercise and talking to them. I NEVER use their stories in my work, but I do get a lot from listening to the way people talk about things that excite or upset them. I have fun meeting new people and spend a lot of my time laughing :-)

Carrie-Anne said...

I worked in the production room of a local newspaper till I was laid off last May, after two months shy of five years. I wrote, proofread, and researched articles. Last summer I was a counselor at the local Orthodox day camp, and will possibly be working there again this summer.

Working at the paper helped me learn about how to say some things in fewer words, though we also had space constraints that the average book publisher doesn't have, like figuring out how to fit columns of certain lengths on the same page together.

Being a counselor helped me further in learning how to write child characters more convincingly. I'd already come a long way, but it always helps to have as much first-hand experience as possible. Back in my teens, I was writing most of my child characters, even the ones under age 5, like they were at least 30 years old. Very embarrassing.

Joshua said...

Part of my job (the secret, non-public part) gives me motivation. But mostly my job inspires me to find new ways around firewalls so I can access the free and unhindered Internet. It also inspires me to figure out how to get out of this place and work from home.

Imogen said...

I don't have a day job yet, but I'm planning to study and hopefully become an editor, preferably working for a publisher of books. I want to do something connected with writing.

As to how that will help my writing, how could it not?

Jade @ Chasing Empty Pavements said...

I am a Creative Writer for a company that works with Colleges and Non-Profits. I'm glad that I get paid a nice chunk of change to do what I love everyday-write and it's helped me develop more technical writing skills however, by the time I get home from work and my commute, working on my novels seems like the last thing I want to do after writing for 8+ hrs. I'm hoping that someday I can balance both my work writing and my free writing.

Kelley Lynn said...

I am a Chemical Engineer. I give lots of presentations but don't do a whole lot of writing. However, my lunch time is usually my own (unless I'm entertaining customers) so I get to write then. (No checking blogs though. Got busted for that one...)

I also travel a decent amount so that helps with finding time to write. Lots of interesting people in airports :) haha

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm still in high school and jobless (boo teenage unemployment)--but it's interesting to read about people's jobs in the comments!

Christine Rains said...

I'm a stay at home mom, but I've worked several jobs and I have a bunch of degrees. They all influence my writing. Also, in my dreams, I'm often a monster slayer. That helps with my writing a lot! :)

Jeff Hargett said...

Software developer here. It's mainly left-brain work with a little right-brain flair, quite the opposite of my right-brain writing constrained by a little left-brain logic and analysis. I suppose it all balances out in the end.

Nicole said...

Public relations, which means I get a chance to do quite a variety of fun writing!

Tracy Bermeo (A2Z Mommy) said...

SAHM for about 95% of the time. In between everything else, I write for a local news site in my town (which I love) where I write about kids, food, books, and new businesses. Before all of that, I was in sales for 8 years and had a small stint in marketing, but I found that as hard as it is being mom full time, it's even harder having a career at the same time. I wouldn't trade the classroom participation, hot lunch, and fun runs for a board room. That said, it's taken me ten years, three kids, and a writing career to be able to say that and mean it.

Carrie Butler said...

My background is in marketing. Can you tell? ;) I lost my job(s) a couple years ago. We have the crappy job market to thank for my shift toward serious writing. (All together now: "Thank you, crappy job market!") I'd love to have a day job again.

...Or to be a trophy wife. Either/or. *Grins*

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I'm a SAHM and a writer. I used to work with language-disabled kids, but haven't done that in a long time. Writing comes before cleaning and I don't do windows :)

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

I married into backhoes, gravel pits, septic tanks, concrete and construction and help my husband run the company. But ... construction has been so slow for the past several years that I had tons of free time; now my style is getting cramped! I still get up early and blog and get off around 2:00 ... I think when I adjust to being back at work all will be fine.

Maeve Frazier said...

Hi Peggy - My day job is as a Paralegal to a Law Firm that is all women. Amazingly enough, we all get along and they are a wonderful group of people to work with. The job is highly paced and can be exhausting. But, we are all good back-up support to each other. They are all aware that my goal is to make writing my full-time job and shift the sands. - Great post!

Shallee said...

I'm a SAHM mom too, and sometimes it inspires me and sometimes it wears me out. :)

I also work from home a few hours a week, writing and editing courses for medical transcription training software. I learn a lot about medical stuff, which helps me learn a lot. Otherwise, it can get pretty boring.

Janice said...

Hi!

I was a SAHM when I began writing nearly 15 years ago. I started out writing greeting cards, which I still do for Palm Press. Then I started writing essays and landed a job as a columnist.

I used to tell tell my kids that I'd have a bestseller by now, if I didn't have to stop writing every 10 minutes to wipe a butt, make a sandwich or find a shoe!

My youngest is now 20 and I'm still writing and still pursuing that best-seller status!

Presently, I'm the executive editor of Northern Connection magazine, and I've been published in a bunch of places.

I've written three novels during that 15 years, and I've come close several times to having them represented by an agent, only to have them tell me they didn't know which genre to publish them under.

While I was planning my daughter's marriage and getting my youngest son enrolled in college two years ago, the whole publishing world changed. I felt like Rip Van Winkle. I emerged from the wedding/college stuff to discover everything changed. Thank heavens for the self-publishing revolution. I love being my own boss.

I will be releasing my first novel, St. Anne's Day, a romantic comedy with inspirational overtones this summer.

I play with words all day and so much that I feel as if I'm living just inside my head or in an alternate universe.

I love writing and would do it even if I didn't get paid, (which was the case for quite a while.)

With so many SAHM on this post, I think it shows that moms are some of the most creative, hard-working, and inspiring people around.

Janice

Nicole Pyles said...

So I am kind of unemployed right now. But I have worked with customers in the past primarily and that experience gives me wonderful insight into people and who they are. Gives me good character names too! :)

Kelly Polark said...

I was a third grade teacher until I had my first child, then I became a stay at home mom (who occasionally substitute taught) for twelve years. This past year I worked as a teacher's aide in a kindergarten class at my kids' school. I loved being back in the classroom.Great way to ease back in. My kids and students have both inspired me immensely. My first pb that will be published this summer was definitely inspired by my own children.

Lauren said...

As my muse says, A clean house is the sign of a broken computer. With that out of the way, right now I'm writing full time, which does very little toward giving me ideas but it does give me time to develop my ideas. I finished another book this week! :) I gave myself a year to focus on my writing. I just hope I can continue this after the year is up because I LOVE it!

Lauren said...

I used to do benefits administration though, and that gave me a LOT of amunition for my books. I don't think my co-workers would recognize themselves, though. I hope not.

Becky Wallace said...

I can honestly say I've had some of the WORLD'S COOLEST JOBS!! I was a publicist for a self-help book, a PR Director for a minor league baseball team, and for nearly five years I was an editor for a Sports Marketing journal.

All of those jobs gave me great material to use in my stories, but working as a journalist taught me how to write dialogue. I listened to thousands of conversations, learned where the natural breaks in sentences came, and the difference between male and female voice.

Am I good at anything else? Not particularly. I've got a lot to learn, but at least I know how my characters should sound when they interact.

Angela Ackerman said...

I'm a stay at home as well. I feel blessed that I was able to do this as I know so many families who cannot. :)

Angela

mare ball said...

Just finding you through another blog. I'm helping my elderly folks at this point...don't have a day job, in the sense that I'm not employed. My folks are 89 and 91 and live a mile away in an ALF. I see them daily, help with many things. I used to be an educator, and I've written most of my adult life. I write a lot about my parents,as they are part of the greatest generation, which is quickly fading. They were wonderful parents, and always inspire me.

Adam Heine said...

Full-time Dad. We foster kids in Thailand (currently have 10).

It's not terribly conducive to writing, but I do get lots of time to think when I'm driving them to/from school and/or waiting for them in the parking lot. I like that :-)

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I teach high school English - junior English, pre-ap English, Creative Writing and English 1010. I also teach eight piano lessons a week (three are my kids).

My kids and Creative Writing have helped generate ideas, but everything sucks time. Working on that one.

Valerie Hartman said...

I have been a SAHM for 12 years, teaching computer tech part-time for 2 years, a grad student for 18 months. I have 3 kids and 5 schools on the family calendar, with my daughter in school 35 miles away from home. So, I also drive 35K miles a year. Throw in year round sports, a pack of pets and a traveling husband and life is flying by pretty fast-usually at 65 mph!

I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up. Learning the craft is my focus now. What I write will hopefully follow!!!

And Peggy, I just love your blog and comments. Thank you!