Author of Dark Fiction
Guest Post from Author Lee Allen Howard: Using Your Day Job in Your Writing
I’m very happy to post this guest blog from the fabulous Lee Allen Howard!
Using Your Day Job in Your Writing
Very few fiction writers earn enough from their creative efforts to support themselves. I don’t—yet. So we have day jobs (or night jobs). Anthony Trollope, one of the most prolific English novelists of the Victorian era worked as a clerk at the General Post Office. Stephen King once labored in an industrial laundry and later taught school while he wrote.
I’ve got a day job, too. Since 1985 I’ve been a technical writer, primarily for the software industry. Although I’ve made a good living at it, writing user manuals and help systems ain’t the most exciting work, let me tell you. But my day job has:
- Taught me advanced use of writing and publishing tools
- Enabled me to work with huge amounts of text (one of my many user guides is 1300 pages)
- Required attention to detail
- Honed my writing and editing skills
- Made me work to schedule and deadline
- Forced me to write whether or not I “felt like it”
On the other hand, all this time working has kept me from pursuing my love of fiction writing full time. Sometimes, after 10 hours of slaving over complicated technical material, I’m brain-fried and have little left to devote to creative pursuits.
But I appreciate the value of my day job (as well as the benefits it provides, like healthcare). And I’ve used it in my writing. In The Sixth Seed, protagonist and family man Tom Furst is a technical writer for a software company.
My technical writing abilities came in handy when researching and writing DEATH PERCEPTION, my latest supernatural thriller tinged with horror and peppered with dark humor. It’s about a young man who runs the crematory at the local funeral home and who discovers he has a gift for discerning the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.
I actually spent an afternoon at a crematorium learning the process. I took copious notes, drew diagrams, and made charts. These notes were invaluable in writing the technical material related to cremation.
If you’re a writer, don’t curse your day job. Use it to fuel your desire to write fiction. And, whatever kind of work you do, you can leverage it to lend realism to your stories. I did.
DEATH PERCEPTION is available in trade paperback, Kindle (.mobi) and Nook (.epub) at http://leeallenhoward.com/death-perception/.
Lee Allen Howard writes horror, dark fantasy, and supernatural crime. He’s been a professional writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction since 1985. His publications include The Sixth Seed, Desperate Spirits, Night Monsters, “Mama Said,” “Stray,” and DEATH PERCEPTION, available in various formats at http://leeallenhoward.com.
You can keep in touch with Lee on his Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lee-Allen-Howard-author/117844011639457. Follow him on Twitter @LeeAllenHoward.