Unless you write a best seller like The Help, you probably need a different kind of help—in making ends meet. This may mean holding a day job that limits your creative writing time to early mornings, nights, weekends, and holidays such as Take Your Novel to Work Day.
But what if the creative writing muse strikes you at work—perhaps just after your boss orders you to submit some silly report ASAP? Well, you can weep at your computer (and watch the salty tears explode your hard drive) or do this:
Keep a notebook in your cubicle for quickly jotting down a line, dialogue fragment, plot point, etc.
Email your thoughts to yourself. Some bosses frown on “the help” using work computers for personal purposes. Others understand that because they often force their downsized staff to stay late and/or take work home, employees should be allowed a few stray minutes for “me” stuff in the office. Heck, for many people the line between job time and personal time has blurred…but you knew that.
Smartphones and iPads. Avoid keyboarding creative writing ideas into your work computer by putting those ideas into the personal wireless device you bring to the office.
Make your lunch hour a power hour. And work on your book, short story, or poetry during lunch hour! (That is, if you have a lunch hour or lunch half-hour or lunch one-sixtieth of an hour.) Even if you can’t leave your desk while feeding your body, a few minutes of creative writing can feed your soul. And, yes, we at Writer’s Relief know you have so many crumbs in your office keyboard that they were counted in the 2010 Census.
Commune with your muse on your commute. If you take a bus or train to the office, and you’re not squashed like a briefcase-toting sardine, work on your writing—whether you’re using a laptop, a smartphone, or the margins of an old-fashioned newspaper (check Merriam-Webster.com for the definition of that last thing). If you’re driving, you can always do some brainstorming with yourself. Stash a digital voice recorder next to your seat. Just make sure you keep your eyes on the road.
And last but not least:
Use your day job as fodder for the imagination! If you have to work somewhere for the money rather than the satisfaction, at least allow the office environment to spark ideas for characters, situations, and other content in your creative writing.
Also, get inspired by observing fellow commuters and diners (if you manage to eat lunch outside your workplace). This social immersion can beat sitting alone at your home computer trying to pluck ideas from your memories, subconscious, and the comic strip you taped to your refrigerator door.
But be careful to heavily disguise and fictionalize your real-life office gleanings before putting them in your novel, story, or poem. Change names, locales, conversations, and $100 bills—if the resulting creation earns you enough money to quit your day job! Read more: How To Write Fiction Based On Real Life.
Until your writing starts to pay off, you’ll need to hold on to your day job. The good news is that for writers “nothing is irrelevant.” Some writers will never make money off their work—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy. Read more: How Much Money Can I Make Writing Poems, Short Stories, Novels, Essays, And Nonfiction Books?