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Writer with a Day Job: Inspiration & Exercises to Help You Craft a Writing Life Alongside Your Career

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  189 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Don't let the daily grind drain your creative energy!

You can work full time and still have a productive writing life. Many writers waste time waiting for the day they can finally quit their day jobs and live the so-called writing dream. Don't wait. You can do both - and your writing will be the better for it.

Balancing a full-time job and a productive writing life is no eas
Paperback, 233 pages
Published June 5th 2011 by Writer's Digest Books (first published May 9th 2011)
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(showing 1-30)
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Cindy Newton
Not much to say about this one. It's pretty disappointing. You pick it up, hoping for tips to help you learn how to fit writing into your already demanding life, only to be greeted with lots of generic and pretty obvious solutions (write on your lunch hour!) and extremely elementary exercises on setting, character, etc. I'm probably wrong, but it seems to me that anyone who actually wants to be a writer shouldn't need tips on how to journal. I mean, if you are interested in pursuing a writing ca ...more
Christina Vasilevski
Dec 11, 2011 Christina Vasilevski rated it it was ok
Shelves: how-to, non-fiction
This book was not what I expected.

Although it contained writing prompts and useful information about writing, revising, and finding support from other writers, these things can be found in almost any book about writing. That information is redundant here.

What I really wanted was for the author to focus more on the mindset and discipline required to balance writing with other forms of work. There were a few chapters that addressed this, but not enough to justify the title, which alone was the rea
Jan 16, 2014 Deb rated it liked it
I guess I expected more from this book. It didn't really offer any new information from what is already available in blogs on the Internet or in other writing books. I'm still working and writing full time, but not doing it any differently because of reading this book. However, some of the exercises. although really having nothing to do with writing while holding down a day job, were interesting and helpful. If you're looking for some fun, basic writing information, you'll find it here. But, if ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Annie rated it it was ok
I'm a sucker for writing books and this one caught my eye at the bookstore. While it had some decent points, it was mostly a disappointment.
I was expecting more time-management advice and plans, and less miscellaneous writing guides and technique exercises. Entire books have been written on dialogue, setting, characters, and squishing them into little ‘tutorials’ felt like space-filler. But the biggest problem to me was that this book suffered from a lack of copy-editing.
There are parenthesis th
Natalie Keating
Jun 19, 2015 Natalie Keating rated it liked it
Not a bad book overall, but geez, employ a copyeditor before you send this out into the world! It's ridiculous. There were SO MANY typos in this book. From words that were plural when they shouldn't have been to referring to a character in an example passage by the wrong name (the passage talked about Nora, then suddenly in the author's commentary we were talking about Sally, who made an appearance ages ago!), this book was so riddled with typos. Look, I can excuse maybe one or two typos because ...more
May 25, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I enjoyed it, though the title is a bit misleading. It's actually a book that gives a variety of writing help, not just ideas for combining a writing life with a "regular" job (which it does quite well, I might add). If you want just information on how to do the latter, you may want to skip some of the pages that don't pertain to that. Ms. Greaney also gives examples and interviews of how people have managed to be quite successful as writers despite working elsewhere. Overall, I think it's a ver ...more
Derek Farrell
Oct 08, 2013 Derek Farrell rated it really liked it
Some of what's in here are basic exercises on, for example, dialogue, characterisation and redrafting. But if you strip out this stuff - not exactly padding but somewhat out of place in a book about fitting a writing career in with a straight life - you do still end up with an enjoyable, pragmatic and practical series of suggestions and approaches.

As others have noted, none of it's original, but then: What good advice ever is? A positive read, and one I'll return to whenever I need a reinforcem
Kathy Richardson
Nov 16, 2014 Kathy Richardson rated it really liked it
I agree with many of the reviewers below in that they wish the author included more tips on writing while working. She included some handy tips and some most working writers have already figured out. That said, I did find the 20 interviews she included at the end fun to read.

I also found her writing tips and exercises a great refresher. These types of novels are inspiring to me whether they teach me a lot or not. :)
Mar 20, 2015 Melinda rated it it was ok
I didn't expect this book to be particularly groundbreaking, as I judged the book by its inside design elements. I had also picked it up at my local library, so I was not upset by the value since I had nothing invested.

This book serves its purpose well enough as a skim-worthy intro to a topic plaguing many writers. I skipped entire chapters and found a few bits that were relevant to my own challenges. I suspect others may do the same.

Kenneth Buff
Jan 25, 2016 Kenneth Buff rated it really liked it
A short and easy read, that has good implementable advice on how to be a more efficient writer and still hold a day job. It's not a full-on "inspiration" writing book or a pure craft book, it's more of a hybrid of the two. For those needing a little bit of an inspiration book, but would still like some new, real implementable tools, this is a good book to add to your arsenal of writing tools (my personal favorite is Self-Editing For Fiction Authors).

There were a few things worth noting that I wa
Nov 03, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
This book is exactly what I needed. I stumbled upon it, but it quickly became a must-buy. Aine hit the perfect tone (for me) of practical information and motivation to put the book down and start writing! Aine provides a wealth of different models for fitting writing into a very busy schedule, and inspired me to make a firmer commitment to myself as a writer. Within a week of reading the first couple chapters, I found myself writing a brief memoir piece literally while waiting at the meat counte ...more
Mark Hennion
Feb 27, 2015 Mark Hennion rated it liked it
Shelves: how-to-write
Of the increasingly available collection of how-to writing books that WD now publishes, I found "Writer with a Day Job" to be a practical, if not generally common sense guide. The purported focus of this book was addressed with some clever tips, and as per usual with most of these books a liberal sprinkling of exercises and affirmations are available.

What surprised me most about this book is the lack of editing; the book contains a large number of misspellings, converged words (two words not spa
Sep 08, 2015 Irene rated it it was amazing
If you have a day job and are struggling to find time to write, this is the book for you. It contains both very useful tips and ideas for carving time for your writing into your overcrowded schedule and interesting writing tips (especially for fiction writers).
There are five sections, dedicated to getting started, making a habit of writing everyday in the morning and/or in the evening (or whenever you have time), insert writing in your working day, editing and revising your work, plus one final
Sep 20, 2016 Rod rated it really liked it
This book certainly wins a prize for having a straight-forward title! It's both a how-to manual and a pep talk for writers (fiction and non-fiction) whose "other life" maybe doesn't leave them with as much free time to create, type, and edit as they would prefer to have. Not just theory mind you -- the many interviews with successful writers who have had (or now have) other jobs and responsibilities to deal with (like family) are both inspiring and heartening. Not so much a complaint as a curios ...more
Mark Polino
Apr 17, 2012 Mark Polino rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
I'm struggling a little with this book. There was some some very good stuff in here but much of it seemed like common sense. Perhaps I've read many of these suggestions in other places and that's why they feel familiar. I was impressed that there is actually a list of places to find online wrtiter's groups. Several books I've read have simply said "Use Google to find online writer's groups". The extra effort was appreciated.

Some of the technology suggestions fell flat. OneNote and Evernote have
Mar 05, 2014 Karinacashew rated it liked it
When I flipped through the chapters before buying it, I thought that it would have enough depth and information about being a writer with a day job. However, each chapter felt like it had just skimmed on the surface and it left me wanting more. The discipline development was useful but I found myself wanting more of that versus basic information about other stuff like editing, writing exercises, etc. I guess what I really wanted was insight on how to muster strength to get through the day when t ...more
Feb 12, 2014 Pauline rated it liked it
There were some super-helpful nuggets for me in this book, such as:
~ Be grateful for your day job!
~ It IS possible to fit writing into your daily routine
~ Self-doubt is normal; allow yourself to write (your first draft) badly.

However, I'm not sure there was a whole book-worth of material here, and I skipped over the writing exercises as they seemed more aimed at unleashing creativity in those who suspect they want to write, rather than those of us with too many ideas and to little time.

But if yo
Aug 09, 2016 Lisa rated it it was ok
Meh, there are much, much better books in being inspired in a writing career. A few interesting sections on exercises -I really hated the 'rabbit section' at the back of the book - Which I suppose was the ' writer with a day job' which partly feelings like its a way to pad the book out and I don't really care that the author breed rabbits to eat, and ending the book with 'a doe that simply refuses to breed, ever, goes well with potatoes and carrots! Its just not worth the aggravation to deal wit ...more
Aug 24, 2012 A.E. rated it it was amazing
A very helpful book for writers who are struggling to find that ever-present and elusive balance between writing and working a full-time job to support oneself and one's family. The author's exercises and suggestions are wonderful, and will actually give you something to work with--someplace to start--instead of just throwing up your hands in the air and guilt-tripping yourself for another day gone by when the writing just didn't happen.

Definitely well worth checking out and reading for any wri
Dec 27, 2013 Morven rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Beginning writers
This is a very good book that I would heartily recommend to someone who is starting out writing while holding down a day job, but I wish it contained more on how to manage writing while holding down a day job.

I almost wish that it had been divided into two books: One that contained the excellent exercises and writing tips, and one that had the information on how to make a writing life while working, expanding on the information already in there.

Don't skip the interviews in the back of the book
Marsha Posz
There are some great tips and exercises to help writers balance a day job and a writing life. I enjoyed most of the book, but found myself skipping sections that dealt with craft just because they were things I already knew and was aware of. I was more interested in the balancing act. Still not an overall bad read. There are some great tips to be found. It depends on what you expect the book to provide.
Jul 30, 2014 Mary rated it liked it
There was a lot of information in this book about balancing writing with a day-job which I thought was relevant to any creative pursuit. The "how to write" parts were not that inspired, but the balancing info was great and the interviews with writers were interesting. I felt a little betrayed though that most of the writers that were interviewed don't actually have day jobs anymore, they are now full-time writers.
Jan 01, 2016 Samantha rated it liked it
This was a good book, but not as helpful as I would have liked. The day jobs in this book are corporate ones with hour long lunches and the like. I work in a factory and my lunch break is 20 minutes long. And I spotted several times in this book when there was no space between words. But I will say that there were a few handy tricks that I now plan to incorporate into my own writing life.
Don Gale
Feb 22, 2013 Don Gale rated it it was ok
Meh. I was disappointed. I was looking for a book focusing solely on writing while working full-time. What Greaney has written is a writing method book with some tips for writers who work mixed in. There are plenty of method books out there, some probably better than this one. She could have condensed her writers-who-work tips into a much shorter volume and just left out the method.
Aug 17, 2013 Jennie rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Wanting to write is easy, doing it and making money something else entirely.

I have to buy this book and a new bookcase to put it on.

My favourite line is about getting a real job and working your writing around it. It emphasizes NEVER GIVING UP which is awesome advice.

Must read!
Jery Schober
Jan 15, 2015 Jery Schober rated it liked it
Shelves: writing-advice
A lot of basic tips which are not new to anyone who read more than 3 books about writing, but nicely presented and organized. Nothing extraordinary innovative or merely creative. Written in an easy, humorous style.
Feb 24, 2014 Deanna rated it liked it
Not a lot of a-ha material here, but a decent primer or refresh of writing tips for busy people. I liked the author interviews, and I also found it helpful to be reminded that even c-level execs can manage to find time to write.
Nov 22, 2011 Bev rated it liked it
This book had one, maybe two magazine articles' worth of advice on how to write alongside a career. Really good articles. Then it tried to cover a whole lot of other ground about how to write, inspiration on writing, and author interviews. Nice, but a lot to fit in a skinny little book.
T Ramon
Sep 22, 2015 T Ramon rated it really liked it
The exercises in this book will keep your pen moving across the pages of your writer's journal. Greaney has great ideas on how to design your life around your day job to get an exceptional amount of writing done during your free time. Fun read too.
Jul 07, 2015 Julie rated it liked it
About a third of this book is actually about squeezing writing into your day when you've got a regular job. The rest is just about writing in general. Beginners may find it helpful but experienced writers will get a lot of information that they already know.
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An Irish-born author who lives north of Boston. Novels: The Big House and Dance Lessons. Also short stories, personal essays and features in such publications as the Boston Globe Magazine,, The Literary Review, Creative Nonfiction, Natural Bridge, The Fish Anthology and other publications. Also a frequent public speaker and creative writing teacher at various schools, libraries and arts ...more
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