Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Guest post by Beth Shriver

Today’s guest blog is from Beth Shriver, one of Tamela’s clients. Beth has been writing for a long time in multiple genres. Her new Amish fiction series (Touch of Grace) will debut with Realms (a division of CharismaMedia) next Summer. She received a degree in Social Work from the University of Nebraska. She was a CPS worker for the Department of Social Services before starting a family. Her two cats and beagle keep her company while she writes. Visit her web site (www.bethshriverwriter.com). This post was originally published on the Just the Write Charisma blog.

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I’ve been talking with writers who have another job as well as their writing to see how they juggle doing both. I was a social worker before my daughter was born and started writing soon after, but now that my youngest is off to college I’ve thought about getting back into the work force. I just don’t know how I’d balance the two yet.

The first thing I thought of was that I’d have to do some serious time management to get everything done that I do now plus working. Getting my family used to the idea that I wouldn’t be as available would be the biggest undertaking, and having others do some of the tasks that I’ve always done. In having less time for writing I’d be spending less time with my imaginary friends, meaning my characters of course (If I were writing this to anyone other than fellow authors I’d worry they would question my sanity) along with a number of activities and groups I belong to. I suppose it’s all about prioritizing.

I did a little research about authors who didn’t give up their day jobs, or at least not right away after they were published. Some of these might surprise you.

-Michael Blake, author of Dances with Wolves, had just been fired from his job as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant when Kevin Costner called him to ask if he would be interested in writing a screen play of his book.

-Steven King was a high school history teacher and used to write in the furnace room closet of his trailer.

-Both C.S. Lewis and Tolkien served in WWI and then taught at Universities.

-John Grisham was a lawyer and member of the State Legislature of Mississippi.

-Jack London was an oyster pirate and then a gold prospector.

-Nicolas Sparks applied at Law school but was not accepted, so he tried doing real estate appraisals, waiting tables, selling dental products and starting a manufacturing business.

-J.K. Rowling got her postgraduate degree and taught in Scotland. She had a baby and then was divorced. She completed her first novel while on welfare.

-Francine Rivers wrote obituaries for the town paper.

-Zane Gray was finally published after many years of rejections and quit his job as a dentist to write full time.

-William Faulkner was a post master.

This group of writers is a tough comparison, but were the most interesting. I know many writers on this blog manage doing both very well, so help me out with some ideas…how do you create the necessary balance working two jobs?

17 Responses to Don’t Quit Your Day Job

  1. Julie Jarnagin October 27, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    I work in marketing full time. I work three days in the office and two days from home. I have a three-year-old son. For me, it’s all about getting up at 5am and writing. It also helps that I have an extremely supportive husband who helps out, especially when I’m on a deadline.

  2. chris vonada October 27, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    Thank you for a great post Beth, very thought provoking and inspiring. I believe that most great authors and their stories are inspired though significant trials and endurance… and those who stand out can juggle many commitments, still finding balance, peace and harmony… for me, this comes from our Heavenly Father to whom I’m very thankful !

    • TC Avey October 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

      I agree! Only through daily prayer/time with God can I prioritize. He knows what needs to be accomplished and in what order. I try to follow his lead.

  3. Kim Taylor October 27, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    Great post, Beth. Very encouraging. I’ll keep on keeping on.

  4. Peter DeHaan October 27, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    Quitting my day job was a mistake that I almost made. Thankfully I did not.

    Although being bivocational leaves me only an hour or two to write each day, I don’t have to worry about paying the bills or putting food on the table.

  5. Patricia PacJac Carroll October 27, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Hi Beth,
    What a wonderful surprise to see your smiling face.

    My hat, if I wore one, would be off to all those who work and write. But if determined and ink is in your blood, you do what you have to do.

    I don’t have a job outside the home, but do take care of my 90 yr old father-in-law. Which mainly consists of taking him out to lunch and making sure he takes his pills. Nothing drastic, except that it chunks up my day.

    I guess the d word (discipline) would be a key to writing and working.
    Good Post

    • Lindsay Harrel October 27, 2011 at 7:07 am #

      Hi Beth. In August, I quit my full-time job to pursue teaching (adjunct position at the community college) and freelance editing and writing.

      I thought I’d have all the time in the world to write, but I’ve discovered that in the freelance world, I actually work MORE because I’m always afraid to say no to a job. So, there wasn’t necessarily any more time to write than there was before I quit my full-time job.

      Due to several reasons, I’ll be returning to working full time in the spring. I think this will be more helpful in establishing a routine for writing: I’ll write on my lunch breaks and a few nights a week. That’s the plan, anyway!

      Thanks for your post.

  6. Beth October 27, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    What I’ve gathered from your posts is that writers find a way to feed their passion for writing. From stealing away a few minutes to write down a story idea during their break at work, to taking a couple of precious hours after a long days work to write a chapter. Those of us who have family who are supportive and give us that space are blessed. You all have shown me that if you want it bad enough you’ll find a way to make it work! Thanks for commenting!

  7. Tamela Hancock Murray October 27, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    Thank you, Beth, for being my guest on the blog today! I enjoyed your post.

  8. Patrick Craig October 27, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    This post was very timely. I was grumbling to my wife this morning about how long it’s going to take for my novel to come out and wanting to jump into writing full time. So this helped me cool my jets a little. They that wait… Thanks Beth

  9. Voni Harris October 27, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I was fortunate…I had a boss who, as long as the work was honestly done, didn’t bat an eye at my banging away on her computer with a random story idea.

    Balance in my life means balancing between being a wife, homeschooling, and writing. My hubby’s great with helping around the house. Our dd is in high school, so she doesn’t need my hands-on teaching minute-by-minute. The new puppy started sleeping in until 6:00, leaving me alone to write from 5-6:30 or so. In other words, balance, for me, comes with the circumstances of my life. Previous seasons of my life were not so conducive to writing, nor may coming seasons. And that’s okay. I’ll enjoy it while I can.

    Blessings,
    Voni

  10. Beth October 27, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    It is hard to wait as a writer. The industry is very slow in every aspect. I can understand the impatience in waiting for your book to be released. It’s a hurry up and wait type deal. It has taught me patience though, the kind that can only come from the Lord, bacause I don’t have it in me to wait.

    I imagine balance for many of you is much harder than it is for me at this point with both of my teens gone. I do have to say I’ve noticed that I’m not as worried about getting my writing hours in now that I have the house to myself much of the time. I commend those who can concentrate and be productive with so much going on around you and meeting everyon’s needs.

  11. Deborah H. Bateman November 1, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Beth, thanks for sharing your post. I know what you mean. I currently work at home writing while keeping my grandchildren. I have considered going back to work myself, but wonder how I would get everything done I do now and work a full time job. I am sure like yourself, I would have to do a lot of organizing and rearranging my schedule. Blessings, Deborah H. Bateman

  12. Beth November 1, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    It is hard to imagine ‘doing it all’ but I do beleive it can be done and done well. Although, you only have your grandbabies for a short time so that is a reason in and itself to make sure tou have that special time with them. They are fortunate to have their grandma as well;)

  13. Ruth Douthitt November 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    I work full time in curriculum development and write when I get home. But i am also in ministry, train for/run marathons, and do artwork when I can!

    Needless to say, life can be overwhelming at times! But I feel strongly that my writing career will become a fulltime business soon. I would love to do artwork and write fulltime, teach part time, and conduct workshops part time.

    We shall see what the Lord has in mind for me!!

    My first book, “The Dragon Forest”, was released through OakTara Publishing and I am working on a YA Christian Fiction/Supernatural book series titled, “The Warfare Club” to submit to agents soon.

    Can’t stop writing!!

    Thank you for your post.

    Blessings,
    Ruth

  14. Heather Frey Blanton June 27, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    I would just urge you to pray hard and you’ll know when the time is right. But start preparing NOW so you have some cash in the bank. I quit my marketing job in Feb and don’t miss it a bit! Thanks for the encouragement, Beth! Great article!

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