A week from today, I start a new day job.
If you follow The Juggling Writer, you know I’m a tech writer…and you know that while I talk about my day job on occasion, I don’t talk specifically about where I work. So I won’t discuss that, but…during the interview process for the new day job, I really stepped back and realized what I already knew: I like having a day job.
Defending the Other Writing
It’s no secret that before an interview these days, most companies see what they can find about potential candidates online. In my case, do a Google search and it’s clear that I do other writing on the side — so I had no issue being asked during the recent interview if the writing I do when I’m at home would interfere with the writing I’m paid to do at my day job.
It’s a simple answer for me: no, the other writing won’t interfere with my day job; in fact, having a day job allows me to do the writing I want to do!
The Chaos of Freelancing
The few times I’ve freelanced following a layoff, I lost time for the things I enjoyed because I was always looking for the next project.
Working with clients all around the world, my schedule was crazy. Guam is 15 hours ahead — California is 2 hours behind…and they all wanted my time on their schedules (understandably). There were emergencies that needed my attention “RIGHT NOW!” My life quickly became work and nothing but work.
My freelancing life really did end up being like these panels from a great Oatmeal strip about working from home:
The Benefit of the Day Job
A day job offers something many freelancers don’t have: a sense of security.
Steady pay for a budget…health benefits that don’t leave you broke…it’s quite nice! Granted, many people hate their day jobs, but that’s not an issue for me — once I made the leap to technical writing, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done at various places for years.
Sure, there are days at work that I think, “I’d rather be writing,” just as I’m sure others at a day job think, “I’d rather be by the pool,” or whatever it is they like. But…when I weigh it all against each other, a day job helps my writing.
By not having to worry about where my next paycheck is going to come from, I can budget and pay the bills…even have some money left over. A day job allows me the ability to write without chasing projects or writing stories I don’t really want to write because I don’t have to make a lot of money with that writing. When an offer comes along for something I don’t really want to do, I can pass because I don’t need the money that comes with that other project.
I can write only what I want to write on the side because I have a day job.
The Power of the Day Job
A day job lets me work on what I want to write, even if it doesn’t make enough to pay the bills. I’d rather be a happy writer than a desperate writer. With the things that stress the freelancers I know taken care of, I can write with a clear mind and not worry if the next thing I write doesn’t do as well as the thing that came before it.
The likelihood of me making a HUGE pile of money writing fiction is slim. Even if I made more than I make at my day job, I’d stay at my day job and keep writing. I think the only thing that would get me to leave a day job and write fiction full time would be repeated bestsellers — and that’s not likely to happen.
I’m a realist, and I realize that the level of “enough” that a day job provides in pay and security lets me do what I love to do without worry: writing the best stories I can write.
Looking at it that way, the day job is an integral part of the writer I am today.
How about you? Do you like being out on the edge, or do you prefer the security of a day job?