How I combine writing with a day job: Confessions of a writer working in a shop

About the HABITS of a not-yet-published WRITER, in order to become a PUBLISHED one.

A writer who is working in a shop...

Some writer, working in a shop… 😛

Hi, I’m Agnete.

I’m a writer.

Who happens to also work in a shop.

And teach languages.

Most days I wish for nothing more than to be allowed to do what I love full time and to be able to finance my livelihood with it, no other jobs involved. I mean, who wouldn’t love that?

Do you also have a day job to finance your other passions / artistic career?

I took two months off from work once and used them to write the book Selma. Never before and never after have I risen earlier in the morning with more vivacity. In the mornings I simply felt thrilled with joy about getting to do full time exactly what I wanted the most: Write! Some days writing came easily, words flowing out of me, making my hands dance like acrobats on the keyboard. Sentences would obligingly materialize and willingly multiply into scenes after scenes on my computer screen. Other days I wrote just because I was stubborn. I had the entire outline ready before me, so “I have absolutely nothing to write about, I’ll watch TV instead” was never really true and a logical consequence. There was ALWAYS something to write about. I planned, wrote and edited the book in 9 weeks. The length of a cat pregnancy. It’s possible. And amazing. Can I please do it again?!

Well, yes and no.

Unfortunately I don’t have a money tree in my garden. I don’t have an insanely rich uncle, either.

I can do it again, just not in so little time, as I need a fitting day job to keep going.

What is a good day job for a writer?

I’ve thought about this quite a lot, and I’ve settled on the following criteria:

  1. It must finance my writing.

I must earn as much as I need in order to live a stress free, simple and creative life. I don’t need expensive clothes and I don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant every night, but I do need to know that all the bills will be paid and to afford healthy and yummy groceries. To me, a job in a shop offers this just fine!

  1. I must still have time to write.

I went through my finances and calculated it together. Then I went to my boss and said: “Can I please reduce my hours? I really just need 20 hours a week to pay all my bills and then a little something. Thank you!” And she was like: “What? Yes, of course! But you’ll have to sign a sheet that you reduced the hours voluntarily!” Most people clearly don’t reduce hours voluntarily. But perhaps more people should. Now I don’t just have time for the day job, but also for the main job! I’m so grateful for making this decision! If I’m serious about being a writer, I must prioritize writing, right? Now I even have a bit time left to relax and be social. Life has become more balanced.

  1. It must be something I can enjoy.

Obviously, I enjoy writing the most. But as I spend quite a lot of time at my day job, I should certainly enjoy this as well! So to me, the day job had to be either related to writing, be a source of inspiration, be a place where I can make use of my other skills than just writing, and/or simply be something I have a lot of fun doing. This way, it won’t drain my energy. Because I have a day job I enjoy and have energy for other things, the chances of me reaching my weekly writing goal of 7 hours are more than possible. It is likely.

In some ways my day job is an opposite of writing:

When I write, I indulge in the energy of introversion. I mostly sit, I’m alone, everything is happening in my head, I’m creating and producing, making things up, thinking a lot about logical connections and better ways to structure my scenes, and so on.

When I’m at the shop, the social version of me can thrive. I mostly stand, I’m surrounded by people, everything is going on right there and then, it is not complicated and I don’t produce anything: I smile and I talk to people about the already produced products. I’m not even allowed to make things up. I do get lots of inspiration from the shop, though. There are some seriously odd customers out there.


The only thing I need to do now to perfectly combine my day job with my writing, is to not only show up at the day job.

I must show up for my writing time, as well!

Sometimes it takes discipline, but mostly I’m thrilled, like if I were meeting with a friend. Almost always I drink a cup of tea or coffee to get me started.

Having time to write doesn’t just happen. It’s a priority.

If I have a date with my lap top, well, then I have to say no to other activities sometimes. That’s life. But with a well scheduled week, and a day job with as few hours as possible that is also not draining my energy, there is still time to see friends, relax and engage in different activities as well.

I warmly recommend to everyone who reads this:

Balance your life and prioritize your dreams!

It’s great! You won’t regret it!


4 thoughts on “How I combine writing with a day job: Confessions of a writer working in a shop

  1. Pingback: How to Get Started Writing a Book | Writing fantasy

  2. Pingback: 2015 In Retrospect | Writing fantasy

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