How Does Your Day Job Help Your Writing?

How does your day job help your writing?

Kurt Vonnegut managed a Saab dealership in Cape Cod. Harper Lee worked as a reservation clerk for Eastern Air Lines. T.S. Eliot was a banker, and Wallace Stevens an insurance executive. Many of the most famous writers in history had to fit in their artistic endeavors around their day jobs, squeezing in words in early mornings or late nights, at lunch or on smoke breaks.

While some yearned for a full-time writing career, others relished the balance of the creative and the practical. In a letter from 1928, Stevens wrote about how such a counterbalance kept him stable: “But after living there [in a world of the imagination] to the degree that a poet does, the desire to get back to the everyday world becomes so keen that one turns away from the imaginative world in a most definite and determined way.” All to say that sometimes a day job can serve to actually bolster our writing.

Do you get story ideas from your customers, patients, clients or coworkers? Is your workday skill set surprisingly handy for your weekend writing? Do you have a job that other people find fascinating? Or is your schedule just flexible enough that you can take writing breaks during the day? We want to hear from you!

Email your best tips or tributes to your writer-friendly day job (a short paragraph is fine—a bit longer works too!) to with “Writer-Friendly Day Job” in the subject line, or simply post your response in the comments to this post. Select responses may be edited for space and clarity and will appear in Writer’s Digest magazine and its related publications and website. (By submitting, you grant permission.)

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One thought on “How Does Your Day Job Help Your Writing?

  1. MichaelEdits

    It took me about 25 years to do it, but I finally wrote a novel in which one of the main characters repaired copy machines for a living. With that, I think I’ve managed to use every job I’ve ever had. Well, except lecturing in Thailand about medical writing, because some jobs are just too boring for fiction. I use them in my sales literature.


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