Is It OK If Writing Is Also Your Day Job?

It’s something I’ve often said to young writers: Study or work at anything but writing. Go lead a separate life, and learn or do something that will enrich whatever you end up writing later.

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Iowa grad Anna North offers a different and compelling perspective. Here’s a snippet:

I started writing nonfiction for pay in college, and I quickly found it a welcome escape from the sucking quagmire of uncertainty that was (and for me, often still is) fiction. Some writers find storytelling easier than the expository form, but in journalism and criticism I found a welcome structure and predictability.

If I put a certain amount of effort into a nonfiction piece, I was reasonably sure it would come out all right—I could sink a year into a novel and end up with nothing. And so I freelanced for magazines and newspapers throughout college, and in grad school I began writing for the blog Jezebel, where I still work.

Go read the full piece.

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2 thoughts on “Is It OK If Writing Is Also Your Day Job?

  1. Jodi McIsaac Martens

    Love this post. I’m a freelance copywriter, so I too write all day for a living. I differ from Anna, though, in that I do my fiction writing first thing in the morning – by the end of a full day of copywriting, I don’t have anything left upstairs for fiction. But to me, it’s the best of both worlds – I love writing of any sort, and I think the two complement each other instead of competing. The fact that I get paid to write all day is just a bonus.

  2. Steven M Moore

    Hi Jane…and Anna,
    To answer the question, let me say that I followed your advice, Jane (rather my own–you probably hadn’t graced this planet yet). I wanted to be a writer when I was young, but decided on the responsible(?) route…and developed many life experiences along the way. I only slightly regret it…those experiences definitely improve my fiction today. The regret: I may die before I write down all the stories I want to tell! LOL.
    I can understand how going the journalism, free lancing, or other non-fiction route can be rewarding and profitable enough to live on. My blog has shown me the rewarding part–I’m not sure if adding editorial constraints would mummify my muse, but I survive the schedule constraints that, after all, force me to write something every day.
    So, Anna, go for it. The important thing is to keep writing, something I did all those years I wasn’t "publicly" writing.
    Take care.


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