Unfortunately most of the time when a writer talks work they’re referring to the job they do to pay their bills and to afford the chance to write. I suppose I’m not too far from that mode of thought. It is rare to find someone who will consider your writing to be work unless you’re a well-off author or a blogger with over a million readers.
I, clearly, am neither of those things.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, if I mention the work I do outside of my writing. Thankfully my work has gone from constantly being in the customer service industry to in the public health/psych/writing fields. And the jobs I have now require a lot of downtime for me to focus on my real work.
But I want to step away from the real work, the thing that gets us up in the morning, and focus on that job we all hate. Writing is about experience. Most writers, no matter the genre or style, have heard the mantra “write what you know”. For Fantasy and Science Fiction, this can mean write about the world you create, write about the clothes you know people would wear, but it actually means something different.
When a writer writes what they know they’re writing about their life experiences. They’re putting into their story the love and emotions they have experienced. They’re also putting in there the jobs they’ve done and how it felt to do them.
As much as I hate to admit it, a good writer has an extensive resume that ought to have a footnote saying: “I hated all of these jobs”. I know I do, but the experience I have gained working at jobs that pay less than enough to afford food taught me what it is like to go hungry because you can’t afford to eat. The jobs that kept me working after hours with no hope of overtime pay and no wage worth the extra work taught me what it’s like for the people who have no choice but to work.
I’m not saying that you have to embrace a crappy job- I certainly grumbled every time I had to work for a job that brought me nothing but enough money to pay the bills. I am saying that you have to try and see the writing opportunity in each job you do. Every job will offer you characters, emotions, and settings to work with. Every job will add to what you know.
So fill up that resume until you can afford to eat off your books. After all, you’re the only one who can write them, because you’ve done the work.
Keep writing, my friends.