Is Your Day Job Destroying Your Ability To Write?

Have you ever realized boredom sucking out your creativity?

I have.  I know I’m not the only writer with a day job, and when I get home, I want to flop on the couch, curl up with a good book, reruns of ABC’s Castle, and do absolutely nothing.  When I’m at work, my only thought is, “I should be writing right now…”

I don’t like spending my days working for someone else.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m grateful to work in an awesome environment!  But when looking at it with my creative lens, a day job means one thing to me.

I’m not advancing my career as a writer.

Last week, I read this great open letter to writers struggling to find their courage.  If you’re thinking about taking the plunge as a freelancer and quitting your day job, you need to read this.

In this letter, the author comments on boredom destroying his creativity.

A day job can be the best thing in the world for you as a writer, or… not.  If it isn’t and you’re like me, you can feel the precious efforts of your brain draining away into nothingness.  With my boredom go plot points, characters, things I’ve missed–and man, does it ever weigh me down!

Since I’m not ready to take the freelancing plunge yet (I’m giving myself a year, but it’s something I want to do!), I had to come up with a list of ways to help me hang onto my creativity through boredom.  How can you bring the spice back into your daily life that inspires you to write great stories?


If something hits me, before it drowns in the daily routine of my mind, I write it down.  Don’t fall prey to telling yourself you’ll remember it later–you won’t.  You’ll turn into the task completion zombie at work while your brain floats away into the abyss.  Take every thought captive with your pen as it comes to you.

Humans are creatures of routine.  I bet you’ve got a pattern of getting dressed in the morning that you don’t think about anymore.

Doing things outside of my normal routine wakes up my brain.  This doesn’t have to be anything huge.  I’m thinking little like walking by the passenger side of your car to get into the driver door.  Go to a different grocery store.  Listen to new music.  Wear your clothes inside out.  By jumping out of your routine, you’re jump starting your brain’s ability to solve problems and CREATE!  Hallelujah, that’s exactly what we want, right?

Who knew you could bring back creativity by putting on your pants before your shirt…  Or maybe you skip that and stay in your PJs.

The more you make your brain switch back and forth between tasks, the more energy it takes. If you’re trying to juggle social media, book promotion, sales managers, upset grandmas–because being a writer is way more than just writing–you’re hurting yourself trying to do it all at once.  When you’re at work, focus on one task at a time.  When you’re at home, focus on writing, and don’t let anything interrupt that.  You may lose your next bestselling story!

Thankfully, if you came up with it once, it’s likely to come back to you again.  Whew.

Practice deep breathing.  Fill your lungs all the way, and breathe out slowly.  Close your eyes for ten seconds and feel your body.

Yes, it sounds weird.  But the creativity you need is all inside of you.  By taking a moment to reconnect with yourself during the day, you’re stirring inspirational waters.

And there’s no harm in pausing to tell yourself you’re brilliant, either.  Because you are, even when stories aren’t coming to you.

You’ve heard it said many times before.  Do something worth writing about!  Get off your butt and try something new.  It’s obnoxious, but it works.  Especially if your new activity involves people.  You will never be bored watching people.  Struggling with character descriptions?  Problem solved.  Need some spunky dialogue?  Eavesdrop on those flirting college kids.  Tired of writing the same body language cues over and over?  Observe people waiting in line on Black Friday.  (It’ll be worth the lost sleep, trust me.)

I’ve started walking during my lunch breaks.  Wow!  What a difference this makes for me.  The more you can get your blood flowing, the better you’ll feel.  Humans were not made to be dormant.  Going out for a walk can jar your brain out of its bored funk.  And you’ll also be refreshed by the beauty of your world.

Can’t see beauty?  Well, that’s a story idea in the making, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but boredom is no longer allowed to steal my writing time.  Yes, I work a day job.  I have a horse (and me) to feed and support.  But being a writer is also my job.  It’s who I am.  And when boredom turns me into a blah blob, it steals a part of who I am!

It’s time to fight back for creativity.

Are you with me?

P.S. If you want to read more on this, check out this blog post because it’s awesome.

  • Josette Keelor

    Thanks for the post, Sydney! I agree that day jobs can rob writers of their creativity. I used to memorize poems and lists while working as a barista/lunch manager at a coffee shop because the work was so mindless I felt like I was losing brain cells. More recently, my day job was writing for a newspaper, but after a long day of reporting I had little interest in getting back on the computer at home and working on my own stuff. I came to realize that all writing isn’t equal. Just because you’re writing for a living doesn’t mean you’re doing work you find meaningful. So it’s important to
    find something meaningful in your writing, even if it’s after hours.

    • Very wise words! Thanks for sharing. <3

  • George McNeese

    This is a great post. I struggle with keeping the creative juices flowing while at my day job. I work retail, so I am constantly around people. Most of the time, they go in, get what they want, and get out. Most of the time, they don’t want to be disturbed. I wanted to create a series of short stories around this idea. I’ve written two thus far, but feel like I’ve gone stagnant. So, maybe I need to go back to observing people while helping them. That should help.

  • Shobana Gomes

    I agree that sometimes day jobs can stifle the creative juices – there’s one part that says write, write, write and there’s another part that says wait!! I have to meet that deadline at work!!

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