Why I Returned to My Day Job to Support My Art
written by regular contributor, Emily Scott
At the end of 2015, I thought I made the best decision: leaving my day job and working for myself full time.
It was the “dream.” I had recently started a creative business and everyone was talking about making the break from their 9 to 5. I wanted to experience that same freedom.
At the time, I was teaching at a local college. Christmas break was coming up fast and I thought, “This is it. This is the perfect time.” The quarter was ending. I was sick of my administrators. I was high on Holiday Spirit. I was going to work for myself full time and it was going to amazing.
There was one hitch: leaving my day job wasn’t the dream I thought it’d be.
Even though I felt like I was on top of the world those first few months, slowly, I began to resent working for myself. I was stressed. I hadn’t saved up enough money before quitting my job, and I felt sick every time a bill came due. Everyone else seemed to be talking about how they were making thousands of dollars a month after quitting their day jobs, why wasn’t I?
The stress over money seeped into every area of my creative business. I no longer had a passion for what I was doing, and was burning out almost on a weekly basis. I fell into a vicious rebrand cycle. Every other month or so, I would rebrand. I was sure all I needed was the right catch phrase, the right color scheme, the right message...then I would be set. That’s how I would get my passion back, right?
But even with a beautiful website, stellar copy, and a clear message my community connected with, I couldn’t get that passion to spark again. That’s when I turned to an old friend of mine: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. (p.s. If you haven’t read Big Magic yet, I insist you do. You can come back to this post when you’re done.) What did Liz Gilbert have to share with me? This quote:
“There’s no dishonor in having a job. What is dishonorable is scaring away your creativity by demanding that it pay for your entire existence.”
I think I stared at this message for a full minute reading it over and over again. I know Liz wrote this book for all creatives, but at that moment, I was sure she had written this sentence for me. This is why working for myself hadn’t been the dream I envisioned: I insisted my creativity support me instead of me supporting it. So I took on two part-time jobs.
At first, I felt like it was a step back.
Wasn’t I exactly where I was a year ago? No, I wasn’t. Because I know knew what I needed to do. I needed to support my art instead of asking it to support me. And without the fear of not being able to pay bills, I felt safe enough to explore my creativity again.
So safe, that I took another big leap: I left behind my creative side business to explore my true passion: novel writing. I’ve been writing for years but I never took it seriously because it wasn’t making me any “real” money. But now that money isn’t an issue for me, I get to spend my days writing. I spend every day doing what I love thanks to a day job.
A day job is not the enemy.
The “wrong” type of day job can add unneeded stress (like when I taught at the college), but now I work two great jobs with people who truly care about me. Not working 100% for myself doesn’t mean I failed. Going back to having a day job doesn’t mean I failed. If anything, having a day job has given me more freedom than I had working for myself. Both jobs are flexible enough I get plenty of time each day and week to write my novels and work on my author business. I’m not stressed. I don’t feel that rush to “make it big” in six months.
And most importantly, my passion is back and my creative well is full.
Emily Scott is an author, artist, and literature nerd. She writes paranormal fantasy fiction featuring rebellious protagonists dedicated to knocking down their boundaries. Like any good California girl, she loves the beach and believe she should have been born a mermaid.