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From fired to inspired?

Categories: the writing life.
Hi Writers,
I’ve been attending a lot of writing conferences recently and in listening to keynote speeches I’ve noticed an odd correlation in the first-published stories of many writers.

Just off the top of my head, I can name three bestselling authors who cite being fired as the impetus to write and sell their first book.

• Lee Child lost his job with the BBC and soon after wrote and sold his first Jack Reacher novel.

• Sandra Brown wrote her first novel after being fired from her TV reporter position.

• Laurell K. Hamilton was downsized from her job with IBM when she decided to give the writing thing a real crack.

Anyway, don’t go off and tell your boss off, this is merely an unscientific observation, but I have started to wonder if “fired” leads to “inspired.” What do you think?

Keep Writing,
Maria

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16 Responses to From fired to inspired?

  1. Hey Warren, so nice to hear from you. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. Warren Henke says:

    It took a painful divorce and then quiting my job to get my novel written. My boss said, "Warren, you don’t seem passionate about your job." I answered, "You are right, and I don’t think I ever will be." We both agreed it was time for me to move on. I took five months off, wrote my book, settled in, and now work full time again but still am still writing. It worked out good.
    Maria, We met at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference and talked about blogging during dinner. It was nice meeting you.

  3. I think being fired triggers an emotional and raw state of mind that forces us to re-evaluate the details of our lives. It could make us think about the things that need to be completed…loose ends, per say. Maybe the time given helps that along as well. Being fired is also a form of rejection that has to be dealt with. We all deal with rejection differently. Maybe writers deal with it by writing!

  4. anon says:

    Sorry for being a boring realist but, of the three authors mentioned above, one worked for BBC (publishing connection), another was a TV reporter (publishing connection), and the third didn’t get fired, she was simply downgraded.

    The average person with no money, no experience, and no connections in the biz, would not be doing their writing a favor by quitting a job – only increasing the stress and poverty level to the point where all art fades away in the face of more pressing problems.

  5. ann says:

    Echoing a couple others, I am not comfortable without money coming in. I am my only means of support, so that is where my focus is right now. I have been getting the occasional temp work, and trying to get my house. I want pay some debt and move to Greenville, SC where I have found I truly feel at home. It is a very artsy and friendly community. Every time I am there I feel encouraged, motivated, inspired, and a sense of endless possibilities for me.

    When I work on my second book story I need peace of mind, quality time to sit in quiet and allow inspiration to flow through and onto the paper. I have no problem writing my poetry because when something comes, it doesn’t take long to write it.

    I have read and heard much about the process of trying to find an agent, including the rules regarding query letters etc. That kind of writing is not my best and it scares me senseless. Even though I did have one book published, it was not with the best publisher and I no longer have a contract with them. I am part way through the second book, but since I really need work to keep paying the bills, that is where my focus is right now.
    I so dream of the time when I can focus on my writing, with no worry about finances to pay my bills and eat.

  6. anon says:

    I recently found out that I will be layed off from my job. I plan on doing some writing while looking for a new job. I dont deal well with uncertainty and not having a steady paycheck coming in. But I definitely plan on working on my writing in the interim.

  7. Hachi Gatsu says:

    I find this post almost ironic. I was fired today from my job as a car salesman (I hated that job anyway). I’ve been wanting to get back into writing again but the hours were killing me (common work week was at least 60 hours). I got time, why not!

  8. James A. Ritchie says:

    I’ve never been fired, but I did quit a lousy job in order to write. I can see where getting fired would be a great motivator, especially for those with enough self-confidence to ward off worry.

    If you can find enough money, or have enough already, tp pay teh bills for however long it takes to write a novel, then why not use getting fired as a reason to write a novel?

    Taking a chance is often what success is all about. Playing it safe may lead to a comfortable life, but seldom to a spectacular one.

  9. Chris says:

    When we relocated because of my husband’s transfer, I was unemployed for a bit. During that time, I started my own art business and did very well. Not that I was fired, but circumstances led me to be inspired.

  10. De Fench says:

    Definitely. It usually takes a drastic change, such as losing our jobs, to light that fire underneath us. Or to simply send us in our destined direction…light at the end of the tunnel :-) I can relate.

    Not being able to find a job after graduation led to my writing constantly, then pursuing it on a professional/technical level :-)

    Hooray for the pitfalls of life!

  11. Jeff Yeager says:

    In truth, my last “real job” ended in a draw. You know, “You can’t fire me, because I quit.”

    That experience – as humbling as it was at the time – was a tremendous motivator. It made me want to go out and do something both meaningful and enjoyable with my life. And because I practice what I preach – I don’t spend money easily – I had the financial freedom to take some time to discover what I wanted to do next. I didn’t realize at first that that would be writing, but in retrospect I’d certainly never be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t been done to as I was done to back then.

    My new life started the day my last job ended, and that turned out to be one of the best days of my life. BTW, the first print piece I ever sold was a short story account of that period in my life, sort of, and I just posted it under Nonfiction Critique in the Writer’s Digest Forum if you’re interested — see “Lucky” http://forum.writersdigest.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=19572&posts=1&start=1

  12. Ramona says:

    I got into teaching, in part, so that I could use summers to write. Thing is teaching takes so much mentally out of me, that come summer I find myself not interested in writing at all. But I do read, and that seems to get the creative juices flowing. About three weeks before school is scheduled to start again, I start to relax enough and the muse returns and I start writing like mad. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to get the process going earlier.

  13. DavidG says:

    Sometimes it takes having nothing to lose to start chasing your dreams.

  14. Frances O. says:

    Reality bites viciously! Getting fired definitely would not result in the inspiration to write. With huge financial responsibilities, a family to raise, and a child in college, getting fired would stifle my creative juices. The paramount concern for me would be to scrounge around for the next source of income not to pick up a pen and brush off my obligations. If there were a significant other on whom I could lean long and lean hard, or if I had had the fortune to stash away hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would have the peace to write my heart out!

  15. Kim Kasch says:

    I don’t know if getting fired would equal getting inspired for me – but it sure would give me a heck of a lot more time to utilize the BIC method – butt in chair

  16. Kirby says:

    A friend of mine wrote screenplays when she lost her job. To me, I think a near layoff has the same inspiration. Six years ago, the PBS station I worked for was scheduled to be closed. My job as a TV journalist/producer was to end in three months. I’m now editing that book I started then and looking for an agent. Luckily, the public came through for us and now my station is stronger than ever. My view on my job has changed, though after being bitten by the writing bug. I view it as a job that subsidizes my writing career.

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