Discuss: Having a Day Job


As I’m sure you know, most people who try to make a living by writing tend to have a day job on the side. The reality of living a creative life is that you often have to supplement your creative work with something more menial or mind-numbing. Some of us may be lucky enough to have a job that revolves around words in some way, even if it does not consist of us writing and publishing our own work. But still, we are often unable to devote the majority of our days to writing itself.

Personally, I do have a day job. There was a time in college when I thought I could make a living simply by writing. But it soon became apparent that that was not a realistic option if I ever wanted to leave my parents home. So I, like many of you, “sold out” and got myself a day job to pay the bills. All of my writing progress is made during the evening and on weekends.

As I said, having a day job is often thought of as “selling out.” Or, at least, that’s what I thought. Recently I saw a quote from comedian Sara Benincasa on a website called Write For Your Life, which put a different light on the “day job.” The quote said, “Real artists have day jobs, and night jobs, and afternoon jobs. Real artists make things other than art, and then they make time to make art because art is screaming to get out from inside them. Screaming, or begging, or gently whispering.”

This was not an opinion that I heard of before. In general, I’ve always heard day jobs spoken of as annoyances that we have to go through because creative work doesn’t pay as much as we would like. If we didn’t have a day job, then we were thought of as “suffering” for our art rather than “selling out.” But, in this quote, Sara Benincasa makes having a day job necessary to the creative lifestyle. These jobs are a necessity to take us away from our art for a time so that, when we do return, we’re ready to create to our heart’s content.

I must say that I like this quote and this take on the whole idea of a “day job.” I may be biased because I have a day job myself, but this makes sense to me. Sometimes you need distance from the art you’re working on, you need to give your brain a rest, so that you can return fresh and ready to create again.

What do you think about this quote? Do you agree? Share your thoughts on the “day job” in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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