How My Non-Writing Jobs Help Support My Writing

So, apparently, I was kidding when I said I wanted to blog consistently.

No. That’s not true. I do. I just kept being busy and failing to make it a priority. So here I am. Making it a priority.

Something I started thinking about this week is the two part-time jobs I currently work at. I’m a secretary for a guy who sells insurance, which means a lot of office work and organizing and sending out promotional mailings and calling the home office to ask brusque East-coast ladies about people’s beneficiaries and loan amounts. I’m also a cashier at a Hy-Vee (which, for those of you not in the midwest, is like the mother-of-all-grocery-stores).

I reflected on how those two other jobs take up so much of my time, drain so much of my energy, and tend to make the writing job feel more like…well, like a hobby. Which is sad. But I challenged myself to think of it differently by asking – Are there any ways my non-writing jobs can support my writing job? I concluded that there were, so I decided to share them in case there’s anyone else in the same boat – writing and working and wanting to be able to write more.

JobsSupportWritingIG

 

Boredom

Boredom is actually a really useful tool. It allows your brain to wander off to more interesting, creative things during tasks that don’t require you to be fully present – like putting stamps on 200 envelopes or ringing up fifty cans in a row. Without boredom, a person might not actually have any mental motivation to brainstorm or problem solve.

I hesitated to list this as a positive because what I’ve been working on most throughout 2018 is being more in the moment and less in my head. I wondered if it was actually a bad thing to let boredom take me out of the present. However, this week I came up with two ideas for blog posts (including this one) while I was at work, so I concluded that a little bit of boredom does actually support me as a writer, which is a very good thing.

 

Money

Let me be perfectly honest here. I am nowhere close to supporting myself with my writing. And that’s okay. Really. Because everyone has to start somewhere and no two people’s career paths are the same. It’s only been a year since I published my first book. I’m working on my next one. I’ve got time.

In the meantime, I have bills to pay, meals to eat, and I would rather not move back in with my parents. My two part-time, not-what-I-want-to-do-for-the-rest-of-my-life jobs enable me to live (and live independently) while I figure this whole writing thing out.  Money is a necessity in life, and while my goal is to eventually be able to support myself by writing, I’m grateful to be employed at two decent jobs where there’s security and even potential for growth.

 

Conversations

My boss at my secretary job will occasionally just sit back and talk to me about politics, theology, ethics, and wild mushrooms. I love when he gets in a chatty mood. I’ve learned a lot and gotten some real inspiration from our conversations. Just today we had a lengthy discussion about grief and how to talk to someone who is grieving. 

At Hy-Vee, I will potentially talk to hundreds of people throughout the day. While it’s true a lot of those conversations range from banal to unpleasant, they still open me up to another person’s perspective. Every person I meet could inspire a new book character or contribute to an existing one. While working as a cashier, I have been taught a brief history of the Easy Bake oven, been told a slightly inappropriate story about Sir Lancelot, been offered a job as a face model (which I regret to say I declined because I’m still battling a fear of new experiences) and have had a woman offer to set me up with either(!) of her single sons. Quality story material.

 

People Watching

I also get to study the mannerisms, facial expressions, and movements of people as they perform the very human task of shopping. Often times, I’m bored and sour and wish I could be at home doing anything else, and I forget to pay attention. But let me encourage you (and me) to pay attention. You never know what interesting or weird or wonderful things might be waiting to be discovered. Like a couple absent-mindedly touching each other’s arm or back as they shop. Or a little girl asking her dad if they can get a bouquet of flowers for her mom. Or a sweet, slightly shy man who comes in almost every afternoon and must be a good cook based on what he buys. Or a couple of middle-school boys having the most low-key fight ever so their mom doesn’t notice them punching each other across the cart. Stories are everywhere – you just have to be looking for them. 

 

Connections

I actually got my secretary job because of my writing job. My now-boss’s wife was directing a play that I had written for a local homeschool group. He was looking for a secretary, and it occurred to his wife that I might be a good candidate – if I had time to write a whole play I probably had a lot of free time (I didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there) and I must be good at typing. So she e-mailed me asking if I would be interested in a secretary position. They interviewed me and hired me within the next week. Just this week, my boss asked me if I’d be interested in a potential writing job with a friend of his. I don’t know if anything will come of that, but it’s a possibility. Another example – last year I sold several copies of my book to coworkers at my Hy-Vee job. You never know what kind of connections you might find at a fine-but-not-what-I-want job.

So there you have it. Just a few of the ways I found that my non-writing jobs actually do support my writing job. Yes, those jobs take up a lot of my time. Yes, they often wear me out to the point that I don’t have the mental energy to actually write at the end of the day. But this is my life right now. Those jobs are supporting the life I will have someday – next month, next year, or whenever it comes together. For now, they are helping build me into the writer and the person I will be. And for that, I am most certainly grateful.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

More Like This:

Some Thoughts On Patience

Journal Entries 1

How I Journal – Prayer In Spite of Anxiety