Freelance Blog + [writing]

Guest Post: 5 Ways That Your Day Job Can Help Your Writing

By Sara Hodon
Not all writers can afford to say goodbye to the day job so they can pursue their craft full-time. (Sad, but true). But there’s a bright side—why not look at having a day job as an advantage to your writing career, rather than an obstacle?Below are a few thoughts to help you gain some perspective:Your day job helps you keep your writing fresh. Approaching your writing with new energy every day definitely beats staring helplessly at a blank page, or a paragraph that just refuses to go further. Even if your freelancing is in the early stages with an article here or a copywriting project there, you’re more likely to find it energizing rather than draining after a long day at work. This is particularly true if you have a job that has nothing to do with writing.

You have easy access to expert sources for articles. If you’re making the most of your field and pitching to trade publications or other specific markets, why not use your network of contacts a bit and ask them for a quote for the article you’re working on? I don’t advise taking advantage of your network too much (as in, don’t try to win them as customers for your freelance business), but most people should only be too glad to share their knowledge with you. I was doing an article on Alzheimer’s disease and was able to use a few contacts I had at assisted living facilities. They were more than happy to contribute and they couldn’t wait to see the final version!Focusing on work can help you think of story ideas. Your subconscious is still buzzing away, even if you’re intently working on a project or sitting through a meeting. Most writers and non-writers admit that their best ideas come to them at the strangest times. (I seem to get my best brainstorms either while in the shower or while driving.) Let your mind wander a bit and see what you can come up with. Carry a notebook with you so you can jot down those brilliant ideas.Limited writing time helps you develop self-discipline. If your writing projects are reserved solely for evenings and weekends, you have no choice but to get yourself on a schedule. Most writers that I know need a deadline—even a self-imposed one. Come up with a to-do list and start tackling the less time-consuming tasks—get those emails sent, look up the name of the book you’re hoping to use for research, or send the photo to the editor for your bio. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s a great feeling of accomplishment to get some of those items out of the way. I’d be lost without my to-do list. Because of it, I find that I’m writing nearly every day. No small accomplishment for someone who tends to procrastinate!Ask your co-workers for feedback. The next time you’re sitting around gossiping in the lunchroom, why not ask your co-workers for their thoughts on the article or short story you’ve been working on? Getting a fresh perspective—especially an impartial opinion—might help you get “unstuck” on the piece or try a new approach you hadn’t originally considered.Sara Hodon is a freelance writer based in Northeast Pennsylvania whose work has appeared in History, Today’s Caregiver, Your Wedding, and GRAND Magazine Online, among others. She is also the “Date and Relate” columnist for Online Dating Magazine. Follow her writing trials and tribulations at Adventures in the Writing Life.
Flickr photo courtesy of mcdlttx