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How Your Day Job is Helping Your Writing Career

August 23rd, 2019

When people ask you what you do for a living, how do you respond? I think of myself predominantly as a writer, although I also have a day job to pay the bills. As such, I will often state my day job as my main occupation in order to avoid sounding pompous (even the notion!) I would imagine that many of you reading this are in a similar position, fitting your Writers Bureau courses around other commitments such as work.

As writers, it is incredibly easy to fall into a pit of frustration, longing for the day when you can quit your nine-to-five in order to pursue your passion as a full-time career. But aside from greater financial security, there are several reasons why having a day job can be a helpful tool to improve your writing.

Firstly, having another job means that your time management skills improve considerably. When you know that you only have one day or even a few hours a week to commit to your writing, there’s no room for procrastination! I’ve certainly found that more free time does not necessarily equate to more useful writing time. In fact, having a job to take up my days forces me to focus more in my time off, making what precious little writing time I do have a lot more productive.

There are several ways to weave writing into your working day, too. For example, I always take copies of my writing magazines to work and read them during my break. Why not use your commute to do some research for your latest project, or to unpick that bothersome plot hole? You’ll find that even if you apparently don’t have time to write, you start making the time to write.

What’s more, getting out and about as part of your day job is vitally important for your mental state. If I’m at a dead end with a project, doing something completely unrelated to writing allows me to rest my “writing brain”, meaning that I come back to my manuscript with a clear head and renewed enthusiasm.

Working in the “real world” can also provide brilliant inspiration and lend more authenticity to your writing. Every day, without realising it, we come into contact with fascinating people and see what makes them tick. Whether it’s a quirky colleague, an annoying boss or a tricky customer, everyone is human, with their own dreams, flaws and foibles.

Your day job can lead your writing anywhere. Agatha Christie drew upon her experience as an apothecary’s assistant when writing about poisons in her famous crime stories, whilst Charles Dickens borrowed the name of the iconic “Fagin” from a colleague during his time as a factory worker. During your working day, make sure that you take note of any interesting people and situations that you encounter, as these can really enrich your stories (as long as they’re not libellous, of course!)

Finally, if you take only one thing away from this blog post, it should be this: you are not failing as a writer by having a day job. Whether you want to make a full-time living from writing or see it simply as a fun hobby, your work life can offer rich inspiration for your articles and stories. So, get scribbling, although maybe not at your desk – your boss may start to ask questions …


Amber Phillips has been a writer (and daydreamer!) for as long as she can remember. As the winner of the Writers Bureau 30th Anniversary Flash Fiction Competition, she was delighted to be asked to contribute a guest post to the Writers Bureau Blog.

Amber enjoys writing short fiction, poetry and scripts. She also has a lively interest in comedy writing, and has contributed to comedy podcasts and radio shows including “Newsjack” on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

A keen traveller, Amber possesses a degree in Modern Foreign Languages and has lived in France and Spain as well as the UK. She now lives in Essex.

You can follow Amber and her writing on Twitter: @frantic_typist 



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