That experience was like throwing jet fuel onto a dying blaze. Confident that I'd done it once, I sought out other writing work. I changed colleges, and was given my own column in fairly short order at my new school's paper. I contacted a local rag in town, and after a brief interview was contributing one to two features to them every week. Then I discovered www.online-writing-jobs.com, and realized that the Internet was packed with people looking for someone just like me. I wrote ad copy for catalogs, ghost wrote romance stories, and pretty soon I was rolling up my sleeves and trying my hand at content mills to cover my monthly expenses. In 2012 I started publishing fiction on a regular basis, and soon after that I started my two blogs, in addition to taking on the mantle of freelance RPG designer.
|I also got this book published earlier this year.|
I've had a lot of writing jobs. Before that, I also had ten years of working more "regular" jobs. I was a car lot porter, a movie store clerk, a cashier, a delivery driver, an office temp, a security guard, and a dozen other things, too. Although I had different responsibilities, different co-workers, different hours, and different bosses, every one of those non-writing jobs had something in common; discontent.
I hated every aspect of every job I worked for nearly a decade of my life, and for the longest time I thought that was just what work was. You woke up, got dressed, did your best to keep your anger and resentment to yourself, and then when you got home you collapsed as all the tension from the day bled out of you. Work left you drained, and unhappy. I thought it was completely normal to spend your days off living in dread of the coming week, knowing that you only had a brief reprieve before you had to go back to doing that thing you hated surrounded by people you couldn't stand. Then I discovered something I'd never experienced in any other position, and having discovered it, never looked back.
That thing was a combination of enjoyment, pride, and that feeling you get when you're allowed to do something you know you're good at. Most people refer to it as job satisfaction, and even when I was being asked to make a captain's bed sound exciting for the Fall edition of a furniture catalog, or writing up completely fake success stories for a Ukrainian dating website, I still had a steady IV drip of that feeling. Even if I was making rent by the skin of my teeth and eating Ramen noodles for the fifth meal in a row, that sensation was (and is) a treasure to me.
Are Bad Jobs Worse Than No Job?
There was more to the difference than just some ephemeral matter of perception, though. In all the non-writing jobs I had I was a nameless, faceless drone. I was a set of hands set to do a menial task, or a warm body to sit in one place to make sure nothing blew up. I was not a valued part of a team; I was a cog who was paid the minimum wage associated with the job I was doing, who would be replaced as soon as my wheels began to squeak.
That's no way to live, and it seems that science agrees with me.
|I think we've found part of the cure, actually.|
You see, according to surveys done by Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), the quality of your work directly affects your psychological health. How directly does it affect you? Well, the results go so far as to suggest you are psychologically worse off having a bad job than you are remaining unemployed.
What HILDA's numbers reveal (and what most people who have had jobs know) is that tasks which are boring, repetitive, which don't engage you, or which are a poor match for the skills you do possess are likely to lead disengagement. In a lot of cases this can result in a revolving door as you get a job, work it until it grinds your gears down, and then for one reason or another step back out of that revolving door to look for something different.
Jobs Are More Than A Paycheck
If the only thing you get out of your job is money, chances are good you don't like your job very much. If you're going to do a job, and do it well, you need more than a carrot on a stick. You have to enjoy what you're doing, you have to do it with people you like, and you need to feel some sense of accomplishment in what you've done. All of that has to balance out with the money you earn, and the benefits your job provides you.
|Some jobs are ALL about the satisfaction.|
I've had a lot of jobs, but this is the only job I've ever had that I've never wanted to quit. Not even on days where the trolls are out in force, clients reject my drafts, or that dreaded form rejection letter shows up in my inbox. Not even on days where I'm working till hours past midnight, like I am right now. Writing allows me to engage my mind, sharpen my skills, and to sit back at the end of the day with the knowledge I've created something valuable through willpower and hard work.
Would I write if no one was paying me to do it? Probably. Work that nourishes the soul and rejuvenates the heart is work you will feel compelled to do. However, just because a car mechanic gets a sense of personal pride out of repairing a damaged engine block, that doesn't mean he isn't going to give you a bill for the services he performed on your behalf.
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