What the day job does for you

People who know me in my other life (the event planner life) often ask me why I don’t use wedding stories in my fiction.  It only makes sense – I entertain my friends all the time with tales of ring-bearing dogs, agoraphobic brides, and drunken groomsmen. (no names, of course)

There are stories there, for sure, but I’m not able to tell them yet.  Not on paper, at least.  I don’t have the distance I need to be able to have perspective.  To be able to create my own characters who would do these crazy things instead of just reworked real people.

That doesn’t mean I don’t use my years of event planning in my writing, though.  A wedding is a microcosm of the world we live in, full of drama and joy and silliness and family relationships.  There’s no better place to observe sibling rivalry, feuding parents, and people with control issues. (they’re the ones telling the band what to play)

Weddings are also terrific for eavesdropping on conversations, for honing my ear for dialogue.  I love to listen in.  And because I always carry a clipboard at weddings, I can jot down lines that I really like.  I never walk on the floor of an event without paper to write on.

If you have a day job, it might be hard to look at it as a good thing for your writing.  For most, the dream is to have all day every day to write.  It can be hard to get your writing done when you’re working 9 to 5 – I know that.  But I think there are some positive things about having a day job.

  • For a part of each day you get out of your own head and have actual conversations with people other than imaginary friends.
  • There’s so much material in the work place.  If you don’t believe me, read my favorite workplace book, Then We Came to the End.
  • Because of the limited time to write, you might just get more done. When I’m working another job, I realize how precious writing time is, and I protect it.  I fight for it. And waiting for the muse is not an option – you either write in the two hours you have or you don’t.

If you don’t have the luxury of writing fulltime, you can still get plenty of writing done in the hours before or after work.  I’ve done it for years.  I’m a late nighter, so I often write until 2 or 3am.  You might be an early riser.  So get up an hour early and write before work.  If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time and energy to do it.

Because of all the weddings I’ve done, I have notebooks full of funny and true dialogue, and enough stories to fill two novels.  Someday, when I’ve processed it all, maybe I’ll use it in my fiction.

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2 thoughts on “What the day job does for you

    1. Honestly, working at something besides my writing makes me value my writing time so much more. Though you have never needed any outside motivation – you are so good at sitting your butt in the chair.

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