Why Your Day Job Doesn't Have to Kill Your Creativity
Ignore the millennial myths. Here's how people throughout history have proven that having a day job can inform and even inspire your creativity.
How many times this week did you think, feel, or say: “I wish I had more time?”
Time, or our lack of it, is a modern-day obsession, amiright? We all wish we had more of it, we wish we had more control of it and we wish our need to make money didn’t take so much of it.
Because if we had more time, THEN we would write that book, go on that trip, start that project. Of course we would. If only we had more time.
And it kind of makes sense.
Day jobs can be, well, draining. The bored, miserable people you see on the commuter train are a testament to exactly that. It’s so easy to feel like your life is just a series of sleep, work, repeat. Damn.
But what if you decided to start viewing your day job as an enabler rather than a constrainer?
What if your lack of time is, in fact, a mindset?
What if it isn’t your day job that’s holding you back, it’s you?
T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land while working as a banker, because he liked the fact his creative pursuits weren’t being strained by the need to make a living. Kurt Vonnegut got published while working as a car dealer. Lewis Carroll was actually a full-time mathematician called Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. J. R. R. Tolkien spent his whole life working in academia. Lord of the Rings was his side hustle.
Kate White, who is my favourite modern-day example, was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and, in her spare time, penned seven (yes, SEVEN) NYT best-selling thrillers. If that isn’t proof that a demanding day job can actually give you a greater mental flow, I don’t know what is.
And what about those who create because, not in spite of their day job?
Charles Bukowski wrote brilliant prose about everyday, dead-end characters because he was a postman. Charlotte Bronte created the harsh worlds of Jane Eyre and Villette because of her day job as a governess.
That’s right. Day jobs can even inform and inspire a creative project. Because your day job doesn't kill your creativity. You do.
And if those badasses made magic during their stolen moments? Then so can I, and so can you.
I’m not out here saying it’s easy. It’s not. Being more mindful of your time and setting boundaries with your day job is hard. But it’s possible, if you really want it to be.
It’s possible to add 30 minutes of exercise to your day because it really does give you more energy. It’s possible to wake up 30 minutes earlier so you can give your writing your best mind, not your overflowing email inbox. It’s possible to say no to things you didn’t really want to attend anyway. It’s possible to be mindful of where your mental energy is going and take some of it back for yourself. It’s possible.
Your day job can only define or constrain you if you allow it to.