After I finished writing my latest novel, I went through a dry spell. The novel I worked on was an emotionally and physically draining project that I have worked on relentlessly for most of 2015. Unfortunately, however, through that entire year, I wasn’t able to finish anything else—except for a screenplay that I co-wrote which is turning out to be a total waste of time but more on that later.
Things were changing. My living situation turned 180 degrees, my savings were running low, bills were piling up and I was unemployed. It’s safe to say, I had a lot to figure out and my writing had a setback.
For months, I looked for ways to make money. I modeled for the most part and I thought I could sustain that lifestyle of working a few days a month in a convention or something, making enough to get by, and writing the rest of the month. It was easier said than done, especially since I wasn’t signed up with an agency and had to look for gigs all on my own. So between searching, applying, going on castings and calls backs, and daily trips to the gym to make it all possible, I had the equivalent of a full-time job without even knowing it. So I decided to sign up with an agency, get employed and try to fit writing into my schedule somehow.
Finding the perfect job was a challenge on its own. Living in Vegas, the natural choice would’ve been for me to work as a cocktail waitress in one of the casinos or bars and since a good job in that industry would earn me a lot of money from tips. But that kind of job would demand a lot of time and physical effort, I doubted I would’ve been able to find the energy to make myself dinner by the time I got home let alone write—and I’m big on making my own dinners, by the way.
It just so happened that my landlady had a friend who worked in the real estate business and they wanted an assistant. I applied and got the job. So now, for four hours a day, five days a week, I process mortgage loans. It’s a boring desk job that requires minimal thinking and offers an annoying boss that goes with it. And it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me as a writer and entrepreneur.
Here’s why. First of all, being that I get off work around 2:00 p.m., I arrive back home at a reasonable hour. It’s crucial to remember that I don’t have a car and a trip that takes 10 minutes in Vegas, takes me at least an hour with the bus. Being home early gives me time to cook, unwind and work out. Since the winter timing, I don’t go to the gym anymore, but I do have time to do at least an hour of exercise daily at home. After that, I have the evening to edit, read and work on an entrepreneurial project which I’ll share with you in due time. Also, since my job isn’t very demanding to begin with, I sneak a little note-taking time during work when my boss is gone or not looking.
“So when do you write?” you ask. Well, in the morning, of course. My work starts at 10:00 a.m., so I wake up at 6, sometimes at 5, write till 8:30, grab a bite and leave my house by 9:15. It’s all planned to the minute. I recently finished a screenplay. By writing two and a half hours in the morning I averaged around 5 pages. Not bad, right? Also, I get weekends off. So if I’m not shooting a movie or commercial or working at some convention, I get a lot of writing done as well.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m now a writing intern for Cliché Magazine? That’s right, I’m their new beauty writer. Add that to my list of tasks. Within a few month, I went from an unemployed girl who had all the time in the world and didn’t know what to do with it, to a girl with three careers, two jobs and a nascent business who is able to take care of all her responsibilities with a little organization and the sacrifice of a few hours of sleep.
It was important for me, being newly-employed and all, not to get discouraged by the relatively slow progress I was making as a writer. Usually, I’m much more prolific. But I had to lower my expectations and put less pressure on myself given the little time I had to accomplish what I wanted.
Another reason why this job has made me a better writer and entrepreneur is because I hate that job so much. God, I hope my boss doesn’t see this; she’s already on the verge of firing me for being “unmotivated”. Yes me. But anyway, that job is boring, monotonous, mentally limiting and I can’t wait to quit. And this dire urge to quit has made me work harder on my writing and other dreams.
So if you have a job that you hate, a passion that you’re hoping to turn into a career, and the will to put the effort to make it happen, all you have to do is find that small time slot every day, however short it is, and get yourself one step closer to where you want to be. How are you guys balancing writing with a job?