Get you a job that can do both

Step 0 to starting a sustainable writing career is to get a day job that you at least don’t mind. I understand that it’s not what you want to be doing. What you want to do is write and make enough on a debut novel to never have to work in a stuffy 9-5 again. I get it. If you have a job just to pay the bills, why spend the time and energy getting one you like?

But I urge you to not let yourself be pulled into a toxic environment. It will affect your writing. For a year of my life, I worked as a secretary, a position that forced me to interact with strangers for eight hours a day. Since I am as introverted as they come, this was a nightmare.

The marketing aspects of the job that had made me take it in the first place were dangled like carrots to make me stay, then flung away. Instead, I dealt with vendors calling me “sweetie” and “young lady.” My worth as an employee seemed to hinge on how full of soda I kept the fridge in the breakroom.

Certainly not the worst job I could have had after college. But not the best. When I got home every day, I ranted to my boyfriend and watched mushy animes just to make myself feel okay again. This didn’t leave much time for writing.

I decided to go back on the job market because I knew I could do better. I applied for a job at a small press that had almost hired me for the same position a year earlier. It was a bit humbling to apply again, but it showed my dedication, and I got the position.

Now I work with books every day. And I love it. At the end of a day, I have more emotional energy leftover, meaning I have less ranting and anime-watching to do to feel ready to write. It’s made a huge difference in what I’m able to accomplish on any given weeknight. It’s done as much or more for my writing as craft classes have.

Self-care is an integral part of the writing process. Take it with as much seriousness as you take grammar and punctuation.

There are no fairy godmothers

Here’s the thing: you can’t wait for someone else to push you to write. No magical fairy godmothers are coming to grant you a magic pen. No one agent is going to come across your work in a blog or on Twitter and push you to finish your novel. This is something you have to do for yourself because you love your story and believe in your dreams.

It’s hard, I get it. Believe me, I get it. I’ll probably do another post later about depression and how it affects writing, but for now I’ll just tell you to please, please keep writing. Your beautiful stories need to bloom in the real world.