Ever since I was a little kid, I knew that I couldn’t “make a living” being a writer or drawer of things. That, combined with the fact that I have the attention span of a flea, means I’ve had a ton of different kinds of paying work over the years. (Who remembers when I worked in network ops at the German phone company? Eh? Eh?)
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I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’ve been writing about being more than our productivity, and also helping some friends figure out how to think about setting up their lives to have space for their writing while keeping a roof over their heads while not letting the paying work suck the life out of them.
Some writers I know are actually earning their living right here on Substack with paid subscriptions, but it’s quite a hustle of building social relationships that goes into having that kind of success. Most writers I know have some sort of paying hustle that (mostly) works for them— university or other teaching jobs, different kinds of consulting (especially in nonprofit communications), what-have-you. Some are completely unrelated.
I would love to have an open thread here—and I’m opening the comments to everyone, not just paid subscribers this time!— for us to share transparently what our hustles are, in the spirit of saying, “It’s OK if writing isn’t your Full-Time Job™!” If you’re uncomfortable sharing publicly, feel free to drop me a line privately.
I’ll start. My paying work consists of:
Working with Jim Hightower on digital and other media strategy, in theory about 10 hours a week but really more like 15-20, heh.
Working with an early childhood initiative creating daily social media posts and updating the website with new content, about 20 hours/week
A small retainer client for whom I support their website, some graphics creation, and occasional odd bits like Mailchimp templates and whatnot
Once in a while, I make small/simple websites for people.
This combo works for me because everyone involved (mostly) has really good boundaries, and I’m not using this work to bolster a public identity. More on that another time, on how and why to separate those things.
OK, your turn!
This is really good to hear. I’m a graphic designer but I’m hoping to integrate more writing into my work life by going freelance when I return to work after maternity leave. 🤞🏻
I’m a poet, although largely, as yet, unpublished. I support it with site design gigs, some light social media for a local queer arts events org, and I’ll also do some editing and lighter technical email management. If a client asks and I can, I generally will.