Don’t Do It For The Day Job

Most writers have a day job. If you do, I urge you to keep the writing secret from your employers. Not because you should be ashamed of it. Oh no. It’s because when they find out you write, they’ll assume you can write anything.

I wrote historical crime. Once my bosses in my last job found out I wrote books, any bit of writing that had to be done passed to me.

I’m not talking creative bits of fiction. I had to write reports and leaflets and newsletters. The kind of thing I didn’t even want to read, let alone write. I couldn’t be too creative, as there were strict guidelines on style and content. It all had to match the house style. And it all had to be proof read by people with different ideas of sentence construction and grammar.

And I wasn’t paid extra for any of this. It was part of my job. When I mentioned I was normally paid for my writing, they found this very funny.

I was asked to write a guide to something. It had to laudatory about a subject I despised. Once or twice might have been a challenge. Doing a third time just made me weary.

I had my writing time a day. I had my time to be creative and descriptive and I was wasting it on this work I hated. When I quit my job, I gladly handed the guide back and explained I couldn’t do it. ‘Stick a murder in there and maybe I could do it.’

Writing is seen as a skill – but it’s a skill that covered all aspects for it. For some reason writing an imaginative work of fiction to your own style is seen as exactly the same as writing a data-intensive report to corporate guidelines. It’s not. It drains you. It annoys you. It turns a work of joy into an onerous task. And after all that, it’s not even your name that goes on it. The credit is usually given to your boss.

So whatever you do, keep the writing quiet from your job. Keep it yourself as a precious secret. Don’t let them get hold of it, and exploit it, and taint it.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

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