How My Un-Writing Related 9-5 Keeps Me On Track With My Writing Goals+ A Writing Goals Bucket List Worksheet
Social media makes entrepreneurship look like the Promised Land these days. While our parents dreamed of the cushy, stable 9-5 with benefits that they could slide into right after college, my fellow millennials and I crave the freedom and fulfillment that we believe only entrepreneurship can provide. We watch our faves like Myleik Teele of CurlBox, and we’re inspired by the story of Issa Rae, who went from making a web series on YouTube to producing her own show on HBO. We peck away at our keyboards hoping to becoming the next Necole Kane, and we spend hours in our kitchens and bathrooms mixing oils, butters, scents, and colors as we dream of having a success story like Rochelle Graham of Alikay Naturals or Pamela Booker of Koils By Nature.
Some of us have romanticized the idea of owning and running our own enterprise to the point where we even demean the traditional 9-5 and those who choose that path. Remember when Love and Hip Hop Atlanta’s Karlie Redd quipped “I’m an entrepreneur! You still work a 9 to 5!” as an insult to Tiara or when Dame Dash said that 9 to 5s are for “lazy people” on The Breakfast Club? These types of statements create the false narrative that having a 9-5 traditional career is somehow a lowlier position than owning your own business. Comments like this also make it hard for those of us with 9 to 5s to appreciate how our journey as an employee can prepare us for going solo in the work world if we choose to take that step.
The reality for most writers is that many of us will simultaneously have 9-5s along with our writing careers for the bulk of our lives, so it’s wise change your mindset about your 9-5 to one that focuses on ways that your traditional job actually supports your development as a writer. Here’s a few ways that my traditional 9-5 job does that for me:
It forces me to manage my time
When you know that 8 hours of your day are already allotted to your day job and that it’s non- negotiable, you have to put a high premium on time management in order to get things done in your writing career. This requires being realistic about how much you can get done in the time you have after your day job is over for the day.
I’ve calculated that at the end of the day, after I’ve taken time to exercise and prepare and eat dinner, I’ve got maybe 2 hours left to work on all things writing, blogging, and business before I need to get ready for bed. I used to have long 20 and 30 item lists of things I wanted to do after work, but now that I know exactly how much time I actually have after work to get things done, my list has dropped to 2 or maybe 1 thing for the evening.
Think about what you can do during the weekday that you can do with excellence in those two hours and save the longer stuff for the weekends. Journaling, working on batching blog posts, and checking on your finances are all things that you can get done in that time period.
Use your weekends wisely. You may have to sacrifice some outings with friends and family to stay in on the weekend and finish that novel chapter or tweak some poems in an upcoming collection, and that’s OK.
It provides inspiration/people watching opportunities
Writers watch people and write about the nuances of emotion and intricacies of life that come to mind as we interact with folks on a day-to-day basis. Day jobs provide a network of people that inspire us and serve as catalysts for those inner thoughts that blossom into essays, short stories, poems, and novels. Learn to develop a writer’s mind, one that sees a story in what others may think is mundane.
Be careful with this one, though. If you are writing something that is inspired by your workplace, make sure that your characters are composites of multiple people throughout your life so that no one feels targeted.
It keeps me hungry/gives me something to look toward
Even though I try to be realistic about balancing a 9-5 with a writing career, I have to say that my ultimate goal is to be a full time writer, content creator, and publisher.
I like the career I am in currently (I’m a librarian for those who are wondering), but writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do since childhood. While it is important to me to give my 9-5 my best effort and attention, I will also strive toward making my writing and the business I’m creating around my writing a larger portion of what I do to make a living.
This “hunger” is what motivates me to stay up a little later to finish a blog post or wake up earlier to work on a poem or a story.
I am constantly around great resources and connections
This one may vary depending on the type of career that you have, and as you can probably imagine, I get so many ideas throughout the day at my library as I work with the resources that I handle on a daily basis. I have to keep two lists while I look through catalogs for new books to add to our collection; one is a list of books that I think would be a great fit for the library, and one is a list of books that I want to read. Much of my to-read list these days is made up of books I would have never known about if it wasn’t for stumbling upon them at work. This is one of my favorite parts of my day job!
Steady pay means I can work on the projects I want to work on/ I don’t have to take jobs or clients I don’t want to make ends meet
Of course, one of the most direct ways that my day job supports my writing career is that it allows me to focus on the projects that I really have a passion for. I don’t have to be quite as worried about writing anything for anyone to pay the bills.
How does your 9-5 support your writing career or your passion project?
I’ve included my #TheLushLitLife Writing Bucket List worksheet for you to write down your goals for your writing career. Don’t worry about dreaming too big. Click here for a copy of my #LushLitLife Bucket List Worksheet
Think about publications you’d like to be published in, publishers you’d like to work with, awards you’d like to win, self-publishing goals, other writers you’d like to work with, and other artistic projects you’d like to work on in tandem with your writing. As we know, writing things down gives them life. Put it on paper and do the work!
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