COMPILED BY TYLER MOSS & JESSICA STRAWSER
How does your day job help your writing? We asked WD readers, and they answered in droves. From story ideas and innovative routines to insider perspectives and useful new skills, the responses in the February 2017 Writer’s Digest are sure to inspire you to make your whole life a part of your writing life. The motivation continues here, with these additional reader perspectives we didn’t have the space to print.
“I work in a public library. As well as the benefit of being surrounded by books, it also has a fantastically spooky basement which I’ve managed to incorporate into my novel.” —Sara Last
“It’s a reminder of the depressing life I have to look forward to if I don’t make it as a novelist.” —Melanie Kirk
“I’m an academic, so I find the research I do can be useful in my fiction.” —Marianne Kimura
“I have developed several characters loosely based from people that I work with and new people I meet every day for my job as an office and marketing manager for a high-profile building smack dab in the middle of downtown Baltimore. It’s a valuable source of inspiration. I listen to clients’ and tenants’ sad and happy stories all day long, plus the city is loaded with interesting characters. The news or my imagination can’t compare with meeting and seeing real people in all walks of life. My job keeps me ‘fresh’ with tons of quirky characters.” —Pegi Beecroft
“I am fortunate to have a job with evenings and weekends free for me to write. It is an office position, so some of what I encounter there ends up in my parody blog “The Skewed Life” (theskewedlife.blogspot.com)—never-ending meetings, mass emails where people select “Reply All” even after being told not to several times, and time-consuming conference calls all have provided material that I then exaggerate in my short stories.” —Jennifer E. Pergola
“I had a car accident which has stopped me from working. I miss my workdays when I would literally get stories just talking to my coworkers. Today I rely on my memories, get involved in writing communities and read more books. I can write 24/7 if I want to, but sometimes miss the talks with coworkers.” —Donna McGuinness
“I managed a Cod dealership in Cape Saab, so Vonnegut’s got nothing on me. But what makes my day job directly relevant to my writing is that my day job is writing. I write marketing copy, travel pieces, blog posts and more, so words and their workings are always top of mind. (Though I regularly write for a whiskey site, so sometimes cocktails are on top of the top of mind.) I edit books as well, so word-wrangling is never in any far-flung pasture. Some people might say that working on the commercial side of words might taint my off-hours fiction writing, but I say, “Poppycock!” (Mostly because I like the word ‘poppycock.’)” —Tom Bentley
“I work for a small newspaper publishing house as an ad layout artist and part-time writer for its quarterly magazines. Being in this setting gives a lot of opportunities for story and writing techniques, from listening to the folks who stop in to visit and share ‘the talk of town,’ to the beautiful riverside view that I have during break times to meditate and come up with new writing ventures.
Recently, my coworker was saying that every time he washes his car, it rains. I started a short story idea where a person becomes a worldwide hero because they have an enchanted car that would cause rain whenever they washed it and they are able to end droughts and replenish reservoirs. (Of course, being ‘the hero’ comes with its own new set of problems, too.)” —Angela Lewis
“Listening to the coworkers around me in cubeland helps when they make funny or sarcastic remarks: I actually keep a file of random overheard tidbits that I can utilize in my writing.
I also find it easier to go somewhere other than home to write. I’m already out of the house because I had to go to work, and just because I’ve left my day job doesn’t mean I have to go home to write. I can sit outside next to a fountain or in front of a window the sun is shining through at a cafe and feel more productive than sitting at home with the temptations of the television and household chores whispering to me.” —Michelle Miller
To read our full robust roundup of insights on how your day job can help your writing, look for the February 2017 Writer’s Digest on your favorite newsstand, order a print copy or download it right now.