In your artistic journey, it’s easy to get frustrated trying to balance your passion for screenwriting and the ennui of a less-than-ideal day job. As the immortal bard Tom DeLonge once said, “Work sucks. I know.”
If it feels like you’re dragging your feet to a job you don’t love, you’re not alone. But thankfully, with a bit of hope and some coping mechanisms, you can pursue your dreams and pay your bills.
Think of Your Job as a “Support Job”
Even if you don’t love your work, a steady day job can support your artistic endeavors. It’s easy to think of screenwriting as a hobby, but if you’re serious about turning it into a career, it helps to frame it that way. Thinking of your day job as a way to support your screenwriting goals allows you to be grateful for the money and stability it provides, while also knowing that your passion lies in your creative career. Not every job is going to be the right fit forever, but your support job might be the right fit for now. As you grow towards your goals, you can always reevaluate. If your support job doesn’t block your creativity, then it may be serving its purpose.
But! If your job makes you truly unhappy, it’s helpful to remind yourself of the ways you can change your circumstances. For example, you can transfer departments, re-establish clear boundaries between work and home, or start searching for a new job. Even if it means taking a different support job, you can still work towards your creative goals without being completely miserable.
Remind Yourself Why You Write
Set goals and intentions regularly. Writing is hard work, and it’s easy to get impatient and discouraged at what can feel like a lack of progress. Some days, getting on the page might feel more like a chore you have to do. Looking back on your goals and reminding yourself of how far you’ve come can make the day-by-day work of writing feel more rewarding. You could write a list of ten things you’re proud of yourself for or write down five people whose creative journey you’d love to learn more about. Celebrate your achievements and commit yourself to your goals with newfound clarity. Being clear about what you want ensures that you’re taking steps in the right direction.
Make an Exit Plan
Make a budget with a clear intention of what you’d like your life to look like at a specific point in the future. Whether it’s saving to take the leap into freelancing, treating yourself to a biannual writing retreat, or buying some time off to allow yourself to focus solely on your writing, put some money away with every paycheck. It’s a nice reminder, when you feel stuck at work, that you have the freedom to take a break and invest in your writing.
Don’t Burn Yourself Out
Creative work is just that—work. Sure, it’s work we love, but it’s okay to not always want to write. Take breaks when you feel burnt out. Be gentle on yourself, knowing that you’re juggling a creative journey and a day job. Play around, whether that’s doing or making something that excites you. Remind yourself of why you love doing this in the first place.
Keep Doing the Work
It’s easy to feel like you’re not in the mood to write, especially after a long day at work. But getting on the page exercises your creative muscle. The more consistently you write, the easier it gets. Set aside time and schedule the work: if writing is your career, think of it as a meeting with yourself. Find accountability through writers groups, taking classes, or telling a supportive friend about your goals.
The keys to balancing a day job and your screenwriting dreams are clearly articulated creative goals, a consistent writing practice, and gratitude for the role your support job plays in your creative journey. I’m excited for your screenwriting career, and I hope for now, this helps you beat the 9 to 5 Blues.