So, you want to be a writer, but you also need to eat. Here are some of the best day jobs for writers that still leave you with enough time and creative energy at the end of the day to write but will also help pay the bills until you make it to J.K. Rowling status.
What to Consider When Looking For a Day Job
You might think the best way to launch your writing career is to look for writing jobs to help you make ends meet. Actually, most writers find that if their full-time job is writing, they are too burnt out to work on any of their own stuff at the end of the day. With that in mind, here are some things to consider when looking for the best day jobs for writers:
- Personal experience. Be realistic about your skill set and apply for a job that suits you. Don’t apply to be a cleaner if you hate cleaning just because the internet tells you to.
- Writing routine. When do you feel like you are at your creative best? If you hit writer’s block after 6 pm, look for a night job that allows you to write during the day or vice versa.
- Money. How much money do you need your day job to pull in? If you’re already earning from your writing and just need to top up, you can look for a lower-paying or part-time job. If you need to bring in a full-time income, you have to be mindful of that when considering which job will be best for you.
- Health insurance. Another thing worth considering is whether you need a job that includes health insurance. Spoiler alert: a lot of these don’t.
For most, the obvious best day job for writers would be freelance writing. What could be better? Let me tell you, editing jobs.
Editing is a good way to keep your day job somewhat connected to writing without exhausting your creativity. This will allow you to preserve your energy for your personal writing projects outside of work hours.
Where to look for editing jobs?
You can find editing gigs on normal job boards, but freelancing is a great way to go if you want to be proactive about setting your own hours and workload.
Try setting up an account on Flexjobs or Fiverr to promote your editing skills and build up a steady clientele that will (hopefully) keep coming back to you with new work.
You can also look for gigs on other freelance sites like UpWork, or look at these other sites like Fiverr for work.
But if you want more stable remote work with some of the biggest companies in the world, be sure to check out Flexjobs.
Closely related to editing, proofreading is another great day job for aspiring writers. Editors will focus on making writing more readable by tackling issues like clarity and style. On the other hand, proofreaders focus mainly on catching spelling or grammar errors. It’s usually the final stage of the editing process.
Depending on what kind of proofreading gig you get, you might even get the chance to read what other writers are working on. Plus, you can get lots of helpful ideas of what works and doesn’t work to implement into your own writing.
Freelance job boards are a good place to look for proofreading jobs as well. Plus, just like editing, you can set up your own business on platforms like Fiverr.
It’s not exactly driving a riverboat like Mark Twain, but in today’s day and age, Uber will have to do.
Driving a cab or something similar means you make your own hours and can work as little or as much as suits you. Plus, you get the benefit of an endless supply of ideas from your riders. Everyone has a story that they love sharing with their driver; you might come up with the plot for your next book!
If you’re looking for a night job that leaves your days free for writing, night security might be perfect for you.
Not only do you get to keep your days free, but the night shift is usually pretty quiet. This means you don’t have to use much of your mental energy for work and can daydream about plot twists and character developments.
As an added bonus, security work usually pays pretty well because there’s always that slight risk of danger.
If you love being around books, what better job than being a librarian? There are lots of perks for the avid reader, like unrestricted access to thousands of books. You can peruse book jackets at your leisure and find inspiration from your fellow authors. You’ll also get to meet readers and recommend different books.
Plus, for the most part, being a librarian means working on your own a lot of the time. This means you might be able to work on plot ideas in your head while shelving books.
Perhaps one of the best day jobs for writers is waiting tables. The money can be pretty good, and if you’re lucky, sometimes there’s free food involved.
But the best part of waiting tables, or working at a bar, is all the different characters you get to meet. Picking up little ticks for your characters or getting inspiration for new stories isn’t hard when you meet a ton of new people a day.
And a lot of the time, all those ‘new people’ know that waiting tables isn’t your dream job. They’ll often ask about you if they are regulars, and you can tell them you’re a writer. Don’t be surprised if more than a few are prepared to read your work. You can form really meaningful relationships with regulars. It’s a great way to network, and you might even end up serving other writers!
Writing often means hours by yourself, sitting down at your desk. It’s not exactly synonymous with sunshine and exercise.
Because of that, a day job that requires physical work can help balance out your life. Being a cleaner is a great low-entry job that can pay enough to cover bills and gets your body moving. You don’t need a degree to break into the business; you can often choose how many houses you want to do a day. This offers a lot of flexibility in terms of the time you get for writing.
The best part about being a virtual assistant is that you get a lot of flexibility when it comes to your working hours.
You can work from anywhere as long as you have a computer and a stable internet connection (which you’d probably want for writing anyways), and you have the potential to earn a decent amount of money.
VAs focus on managing their client’s diaries, handling email correspondence, and other mundane tasks.
This truly becomes one of the best day jobs for writers if you can land a VA role with someone related to the writing world, like a hotshot editor or publisher.
Really, any old retail role would do the trick, but why not spend your days surrounded by something you love?
The good thing about working retail is that it’s a fairly low-stress job (except maybe around Christmas), which means you aren’t too tired to work on your writing at the end of the day. And, while inconsistent hours might be a hindrance to some, it could be a bonus for others. Working different shifts means you get to write at different times of the day and vary your schedule. This can sometimes help writers who are suffering from writer’s block.
Often, retail workers are also allowed to switch shifts with their coworkers, so if you find your groove and are making a lot of headway with your writing, you might be able to call up a coworker and get them to cover your shift that day so you can keep writing. That’s something you definitely can’t do in an office job.
Finally, working in a bookstore is a great chance to network with readers and other writers.
If you love people-watching to get ideas for your stories, a barista is a seriously underrated part-time job. All manner of people come into coffee shops asking for all manner of things. Even your coworkers themselves might be worthy of a cameo appearance in your novel, or maybe you’ll borrow some of their traits for your main character.
Plus, there’s something about coffee shops that draws writers looking for a change of scene. J.K. Rowling wrote lots of scenes for Harry Potter from the cozy tables of coffee shops, and so did the likes of TS Elliot and Franz Kafka. So, who knows what kind of networking opportunities you might find serving up a hot cup of joe.
To be a social media assistant, you’ll need excellent marketing and communication skills and be ready with fresh ideas for innovative campaigns. This means that you get to exercise your creative muscles during the day, so hopefully, you’re primed and ready to get writing in the evening.
However, the best part about this day job is that you can use it to your benefit. Learning how to use social media is an invaluable skill when it comes time to start promoting your own writing.
Many writers use TikTok, Instagram, and other top social media platforms to generate interest in their work, promote book launches, and even interact with their community of readers.
If making money is your primary aim, you’ll probably be looking for a full-time job. Office jobs can be dull and might use up a lot of mental energy, but at the end of the day, if you find a role where you can leave work at work, you’ve got a whole evening of free time to write.
Consistent, predictable hours are the main benefit of working a regular 9-5, and an office job still gives you lots of time to interact with other people. Writing is often a solitary endeavor, so some social interaction is good for you.
Teaching jobs can help foster your creative side. And if you teach English, you’ll also get to share your passion with young aspiring writers.
However, the biggest benefit to a teaching job is you get plenty of days free to hone your craft. More likely than not, during your regular work week, you won’t be doing a lot of writing, but during spring break and summer holidays, you can dedicate whole days to working on your next project.
Keep in mind that you will need some kind of formal training to become a teacher, but the plus side is that the job usually comes with more benefits than, say, being a cleaner. And, if you’re part of an English department, you might get the chance to meet kindred spirits who could be interested in reading your work or sharing tips.
Final Say on Day Jobs for Writers
Many writers dream of publishing their first novel, they’ve fantasized about winning a Pulitzer Prize, and they’ve poured their blood, sweat, and tears into first drafts, second drafts, and so on. Unfortunately, dreams and fantasies don’t pay the rent.
There are plenty of other jobs you can consider to help make ends meet, but the options above are some of the best day jobs for writers allowing you to still have the time and mental capacity to work on your creative writing.