As a writer, you’ve probably indulged, at least once, in a variation of the following daydream: all the time and freedom in the world to write about whatever subject your heart desires; millions of dollars in passive income ticking over from your previous bestsellers; all-star film and TV adaptations of your work popping up left, right, and center; and – if you’re anything like me – an endless supply of caffeine at the ready.
The thing is, while this is a pretty vision, it can be difficult to make a full-time income from your writing alone, especially when you’re just starting out. In the time that it takes to build your audience and reputation, you’re most likely going to need the dreaded day job.
But does it need to be dreaded? Not everybody realizes that part-time jobs for writers can actually be a help, and not a hindrance, to your writing career. There are jobs for good writers out there that pay the bills, while still leaving you ample time and creative energy to get your novel, play, or thesis down on paper.
Before becoming household names, many famous authors – such as Paula Hawkins, writer of the renowned mystery novel The Girl on The Train – held down a day job while hustling hard behind the scenes. You, too, can do this. But what do the right careers for writers entail? What are some desirable elements to consider in your search?
The best day jobs for writers give you a range of new experiences and contacts with different people, without leaving you emotionally, mentally, and creatively drained. Low-stress jobs for aspiring writers in which you don’t have to take your work home with you – and where you can perhaps even write without getting caught! – also provide an advantage.
But if you’re still unsure what might work for you, we’ve compiled a useful list of 9 day jobs for writers to help you earn some cash and maintain your creative spark! Jobs 1-8 are also great resources for writers to get somewhat anonymous and in-depth insight into how people work, and also overhear great examples of dialogue and even potential story ideas – while getting paid! Best of all, job 9 is a wonderful way to work from home, according to your own schedule, while getting paid to write!
Best Jobs for Writers
- Drive a cab/Uber/Lfyt
- Waiting tables/barista
- Advertising Agency
- Teacher or Tutor
Drive a cab/Uber/Lyft
If you love being on the move, interacting with people, and being your own boss, driving a cab or for Uber/Lyft might be a good career move for you. This is one of the most convenient writers’ day jobs, because it allows you to set your own hours. Are you at your most creative in the morning? Then use that time to work on your writing, and boost your income by driving at night!
If you’re quick on your feet, enjoy a fast-paced environment, and enjoy socializing with customers, waiting tables or working as a barista can provide a handy paycheck (and a chance to get out of the house!) to tide you over while you’re percolating your next masterpiece. Freelancing, and writing in particular, can get lonely and repetitive, so why not spend your days earning money (and tips!) in a bustling environment, and enjoy your evenings by getting cozy and writing at home?
Getting plenty of exercise, fresh air, and a chance to show off your green thumb is an excellent way to shore up your finances while working towards your writing goals. Gardeners and landscapers get to enjoy traveling to different customers and environments, and are often paid extremely competitive hourly rates (it is, after all, physically demanding work!). Plus, the job is an excellent source of research if one of your characters has a passion for agriculture and design.
Working security can involve long stretches of time spent alone with your thoughts. If you’re an introverted writer who likes to mull over your stories and plans for a long time before committing them to paper, this could be the role for you! Many sites need a person physically in situ for insurance purposes, but – though you didn’t hear this from me – there’s nothing to stop you from sneaking in a pen and paper and jotting down a few pages at a time… which is, after all, how all great pieces are written.
If you’re a writer with an organizational mind, a talent for administration, and an enjoyment of people-watching and chatting, you might respond well to the role of receptionist. One of the advantages of working in a job like this is that, once you clock out, there’s no need to take the stress or burdens of the workday home with you. Your time off will be your own, and you’ll have plenty of mental and creative energy with which to get writing.
Many of us are writers because we have an inherent love of storytelling and literature. What better way to spend your working days, than to chat to people about your favorite books, and help connect readers with stories that will resonate within their souls? Working as a librarian or library assistant can be a very gratifying way to promote reading and literacy – not to mention the unfettered access to thousands of books!
Did you know that Don DeLillo, Dorothy L Sayers, Salman Rushdie, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Fay Weldon all started out in advertising? Working with brands to help their products shine and reach their intended market can demand exactly the creativity, initiative, and instinct for effective communication that all good writers possess.
Teaching and/or Tutoring
If you have the right qualifications, teaching can be extremely edifying and rewarding. Further, an alternative to full time teaching is to investigate the many tutoring jobs available, both in person and online. I won’t pretend that it’s always easy, but there are few things more noble than inspiring and shaping the next generation of young minds. It’s true that teaching can occupy plenty of headspace and waking hours, but working as an educator, especially in the humanities, can provide an insight into such a variety of people and ways of thinking that the depth and nuance of your writing will only be enhanced.
Last, but by no means least, there’s writing! Yes, you’ve understood correctly – it’s possible to find profitable part-time work as a writer. You could work as a copywriter for an advertising agency, a freelance journalist, or a professional blogger. We’ve written at length about the type of work available, and you can read more here. You can also work for a company like Relay Publishing.
Working for Relay allows you to write from the comfort of your own home. Expand your skills and knowledge with the support of in-house project managers, editors, and formatters – you’ll even be provided with plenty of resources (like outlines and character bibles) to get you started. Better yet, they pay competitive rates that will allow you to support yourself while working on personal projects. There are plenty of jobs available, and it’s worth signing up to their newsletter, as there are new postings every day!