There are many good reasons for a “day job” as an aspiring author. Income, among many other things, is the biggest perk. But there are countless other positives.
For me, my experience as an event and communications coordinator for a small college has set me ahead in many ways as a writer.
The key to any good event planner is balancing one thing while juggling another dozen objects in the air. With one hand. Writers must do the same thing: proposals, drafts, revising, marketing, social media, book signings… The list goes on and on.
2. A Designer’s Eye
I’m by no means a professional or even good when it comes to graphic design. My college roommate, a graphic design major, is good. By good, I mean spectacular, blows-my-mind-how-good-her-work-is, good. But through the necessity of newsletter construction, programs, brochures and other miscellaneous documents I’ve designed in my day job, I’ve developed a better “eye” than when I first began. It’s all about balance, white space, proper use of texts and…ok I hardly know what I’m talking about. 🙂 I’m still learning.
3. Communicating Effectively
I know now exactly how hard it is to get people to RSVP for an event. So direct, constant communication via email, websites, newsletters, and even flyers, is necessary. What is the saying about people needing to be told something ten times before they actually retain that knowledge? Yes – that is the same with event dates. I assume it’s also the same for promoting a book.
4. Using the Web…FB, Twitter, MailChimp…the whole she-bang
The college I work for is constantly looking to connect with the alumni and engage them in the school. So we utilize every avenue possible. Writers must do the same. This is when it pays to be familiar with all the vast array of social media. Even if you’re not familiar with something, learn the value of “googling” it!
5. People Watching
If nothing else, a “day job” serves as a supply of potential characters. I’m not saying you take this one guy who complained for an hour and put him directly into your plot and make him suffer – that isn’t very nice, now. It’s being around people, listening, observing and retaining those traits that stick out. One day on my elevator commute to the 12th floor office, I heard a fascinating story about a woman in her 90s who’d been an actress during the 1950s and how her father had acted alongside John Wayne. This frail old woman was in a wheelchair but toted a bright green purse and pink plastic rimmed glasses. She rocked. Good for a story, right?
There are many other examples of things I’ve learned and I’ll probably touch on them in another post.
What other lessons have you learned from your day job or volunteering experience?