Dear Writers, you need to eat, and that Pulitzer Prize book you’re drafting isn’t going to feed anything more than your ego for a long time.

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As a student, I watched my fellow English majors spend their savings on reckless road trips hoping it would induce the next great American novel, and as a teacher I’ve had my senior English majors roll their eyes and say, “I didn’t go to school for four years to write instruction manuals!”

If you have that attitude, you’ll starve, both literally and figuratively, because there’s nothing worse than writing poems ducked between the aisles of your retail store job, and that job will consume all your time it certainly won’t pay the bills.

Here’s my best advice to you:

  1. Begin by taking any job that will pay enough so they you will still have time to write and not live on a street concern
  2. Put that book aside for a little while. Spend your time writing brief articles, short stories, poems, book reviews. Send them everywhere. is a great resource to find places to send your work.
  3. Realize that each of the items listed below will probably start as volunteer work, but will most definitely develop into paid work if you get decent at it. Why? Because no one will hire an employee with no experience, but with each instance you’re gain that and building up a resume. Here’s what worked for me, when I was in need of work with only a B.A.
  4. Tutor English Language Learners
  5. Look into teaching SAT Prep classes
  6. Volunteer at local libraries and help students find references
  7. Attend technical writing workshops, and offer to write promotional ads, flyers, letters, memos, emails, invoices, instruction manuals, for local businesses
  8. Intern at a local paper or magazine; however small
  9. Volunteer as an editor for an online literary magazine
  10. Attend community events for local authors. Buy their books. Write reviews make connections.
  11. Look into web design and writing or the web
  12. Looking to grading essays for online G.E.D. programs
  13. Look into programs that will let you teach English in a foreign country for a year and even, like, pay you.
  14. Go to conferences, and even attempt to present or speak at conferences.
  15. Look into legal writing and working as a secretary in a law office. Memos, briefs, court notes, they are incredibly formulaic, but still require strong writing skills.

Don’t starve. I won’t pretend I’m an expert, but I’ve struggled through hard-core budgeting, endless job applications, and sold my “art” in the form of memos, newsletters, and Door is A Jar blogs. Every task you do is a step closer to your dream job, and any job that lets you write and tempts your muse is a good job.