The Day Job Vs. the Passion for Writing: Finding the Balance

The Day Job vs. the Passion for Writing:  Finding the Balance

By Larry Yoakum III

 

 

 

            Greetings, I am Larry Yoakum III and I am an author.  Right now I still have to maintain a day job in order to pay the bills.  Just like everyone else in this world, we all have to pay money to keep our homes occupied, our refrigerators full, our electric on, and hopefully have money left over for a weekend trip to Las Vegas, or even Branson, Missouri.

            One thing we have to remember as authors is that we are basically artists.  Instead of paint on canvas we put words on paper.  That in itself is quite a feat of artistic skill.

            For those of us who haven’t hit it big yet, we have to keep doing the day job.  The main benefit of the day job, at least for me, is medical and dental benefits.  Having insurance through your company is also much easier than fiddling around with doing it on your own.  Convenience is the thing that makes it almost worthwhile to get up earlier than you like so you can drive in horrendous traffic to a job that slowly eats away at your fledgling sanity.

            The balance, well, that is something I think is unique to each individual.  I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, so that is what I’ll do.  My way works for me, and it might for you, too.  If not, just keep searching for that balance.  We’re all unique and have to find that sweet spot where we can make the time to create our worlds of words.

            I allocate myself one hour minimum each night after the day job to work on something writing related.  It could be tweaking my outline for my next project.  It could be rereading what I have so far and catching some continuity errors.  Sometimes it might even be me staring at the screen, my eye on that blinking cursor as it mocks me as if to say “Come on, chucklehead.  Do something constructive!” 

            In addition to the one hour minimum, I also set aside one of the weekend days to do some major work.  As soon as I get up, provided I don’t have to do yard work or take the garbage to the road so that it can be picked up, the first thing I do is put on some coffee.  Once that smell hits my senses, it gets me in the mood.  Go into my office, fire up the laptop, take a swig of that liquid ambrosia, and…

            There are mornings where I type and type and type.  Others where I get that mocking imaginary voice from the cursor.  Don’t force it, but be persistent.  Write.  Just write.

            There is one thing in particular that really helps me out.  If I find myself stuck with nothing coming to mind about whatever I’m working on, I’ll start a different project.  At any given time, I have two or three works in progress.  Having issues with that next exciting chapter of your novel?  Try writing a short story that is completely different from your current work.

            The day job is important, too, don’t get me wrong.  I suggest that between the hours of 8 to 5, or whatever your shift is, try not to think about writing.  YEAH RIGHT!  That’s when I seem to get a lot of ideas.  Well, that’s normal author thinking.  What can I say?  We can’t simply turn it off.

            In life, we often do things we don’t want because it’s necessary to make ends meet.  When doing these things, we often want to be doing something else.  Which brings me to another area of difficulty in writing.

            Don’t think of your writing as a job.  I don’t care if you get a million dollar contract and an unreasonable deadline.  Don’t think of it as a job.  If you do, you might start thinking you’d rather be doing something else.  Above all, your writing should be your passion.  Do it because you love it.  A labor of love is something where you’ll strive and thrive, not just do to survive.  Hey, that rhymed.

            Basically, this is what I am getting at with this article.  When at the day job, do the day job.  Make your mental notes, send yourself emails with ideas so you won’t lose them, write ideas in a notebook.  Just don’t let your manager see you.  Kidding, not kidding. 

            Allocate yourself time to write at home, but don’t forget to spend time with your family and friends.  They will be your biggest supporters, even if they never read a word of your work. 

            I almost forgot one of the biggest parts of writing.  Read a lot.  Reading is exercise for the brain.  If you don’t exercise it, your imagination can atrophy.  You need to keep those neurons firing so your creativity will continue to be fed. 

            I hope that this has in some way helped you along the rocky road of finding that balance between the day job and the passion of writing.  So, until you’re that next big superstar going on a national book tour, stay sane at your 9-To-5 and never give up on the written word.  After all, it is the best escape from the daily grind for a lot of people out there.

Larry Yoakum III
Dallas , United States Of America

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