**This will be a two-part series, the first one is me tossing my two cents in and the second one is more research-based.**
Most writers would say that we have a consensus on some lines you shan’t ever utter to us. Some of them are, “Must be nice not to have a real job,” and “I wish I had time to write” or “I think I’m going to write a book, too, you know, when I’m retired and things have slowed down.”
Trust me on this, pal: No matter where you are in life, you will always find it difficult to find the time to write. Truth is, you don’t find the time, you make the time. Remember, you’re the master of your fate and if you want to put a story down on paper, just do it. No excuses, no dragging your feet, no daydreaming about being invited to The Ellen DeGeneres Show because you published a New York Bestseller. (I speak from experience.)
Bottom line, every writer needs a routine, a chunk of the day reserved purely for writing. I found a great Infograph on tumblr a few weeks ago explaining the differences between “a morning writer” and “an evening writer.” It also tells the pros and cons for writing in the morning and in the evening. I’m gonna look for it later this weekend, because it helped me figure out what works well for me. I prefer writing in the evening after my most time-sensitive obligations for that day are behind me, and I know I don’t necessarily have to scurry off anywhere. I can relax, make some tea and emerge myself in the story.
That said, having a day job isn’t a bad thing. You’d think it would get in the way of your writing, but one thing you got to realize, if it wasn’t a job, it would be something else. Unless you’re living under a rock, you will always have people and things in your life “distracting” you. That’s how life works. Frankly, having a day job is healthy for you, because it helps you build a writing routine, gives you further incentive to write and it simply gets you off your butt. It’s healthy to be busy (busy to an extent, of course), to keep yourself moving, because if you don’t have something to do during your day, you will get lazy. You might lose motivation and energy to write. You will most likely get bored–and grumpy. But the worst thing of all… all the creative ideas flurrying in your head might dry out as well.
Working, interacting with other people, just plain LIVING are the primary sources for inspiration. You might pick up things in your favorite book, in music and movies, and so forth, but the most exciting creativity happens when you experience things. Granted, I’m lucky that I’m working at a newspaper. I am sitting in the front row, exposed to the details of the game. I talk to so many different people, ranging from lovely to strange to informative to stuttering, and I do research on so many different things on a daily basis. It may be easy for me to say that having a day job is good for you since I’m basically fishing at the lake of stories.
However, if you’re working at McDonald’s for example, wouldn’t you be motivated to write once you got home? Maybe you don’t pick up a lot of ideas at your job then, but it does give you time to daydream and figure out the plot, the characters, et cetera. I’m speaking from experience again, because the thing with minimum wage jobs like McDonald’s is that it’s the same damn thing every day. While it may be hard manual labor, it works as a meditation mechanism. Not every day perhaps, but definitely during your slow shifts. I wouldn’t have survived McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway or any of my other shit-jobs if it hadn’t been for my wild imagination.
Besides all that, being a starving artist isn’t as cool as it sounds.
Get a job, man.