How Your Miserable Day Job Can Help Launch Your Freelance Career

How Your Miserable Day Job Can Help Launch Your Freelance Career

Have you experienced this moment? It happens to nearly every independent and spirited writer stuck on the corporate ladder to make ends meet: the moment you’re sitting in your cubicle and the padded beige walls start closing in on you.

You don’t think you can possibly muster the motivation to sit through one more pointless meeting, read one more unnecessary memo or answer one more stupid email. You feel miserable, uninspired and imprisoned.

I’ve been there. As an aspiring freelance writer, I wanted to spend every second practicing my craft and seeing the full benefits of my talent and skills — something that was impossible for me to do while working for someone else.

Eventually my pot of frustrations boiled over and I channeled the energy into motivation, replacing work I despised with a writing career I could love. If you’re feeling the same type of dissatisfaction at work, writing full-time is likely a career you’ve considered – but never had the motivation to start. Fortunately, your miserable job is exactly what you need to give you that final push in launching your freelance writing career.

Turn your misery into determination

Being miserable is a mind game. All that hashing and rehashing the things you hate about work adds up to a lot of wasted time and energy!

Instead of dwelling on job frustrations, I used my misery as willpower to craft my writing business in the wee hours of the morning and motivate me when I encountered rejection or self doubt. My unhappiness with my job made me more determined to live life on my own terms, giving me a mission that no setback could derail.

Stop pitying yourself and use your misery as fuel. When you catch yourself being negative about work, make a conscious decision to focus on the goals you’re working toward.

[bctt tweet=”Turn your day job misery into determination, says @trendycheapo on @thewritelife”]

Use your lunch break to work through your to-do list. Put sticky notes around your desk with motivational quotes on independence, freedom and success. Stay up late to work on your goals, even when you’d rather binge-watch Netflix. Hey, Leslie Knope and Alex Vause can’t save you from desk prison — you’re going to have to save yourself.

Use your misery to help you make sacrifices

Writers sacrifice a lot to start their businesses, especially financially. Launch-related costs like website hosting and design can be expensive, though you’ll probably want to bootstrap your business at first. Additionally, you’ll need a sizable emergency fund to support yourself during slower periods of work.

Use your daily misery as a reminder to stay frugal. Save every last cent you can. Remind yourself that every unnecessary dollar spent is an unnecessary moment in misery. When you feel the urge to spend money, think back to your cubicle cell and remember you’re working towards a bigger purpose: freedom.

Stop viewing your job as a roadblock and instead recognize its purpose: funding your personal startup.

Let your misery push you out of your comfort zone

Networking is essential for a writer, although it can be tough when you’re stuck at a horrible job. You might doubt yourself and feel insecure about what you have to offer others.

Yet that misery is putting you in the perfect position to take networking risks. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by going outside your comfort zone.

Join a writing group and follow your niche’s leaders on Twitter. Write thoughtful comments, tweets and emails to get noticed. Print business cards and sign up for networking mixers in your area. And when you’re feeling awkward in the corner of a social event, remember that your ticket out of misery is simply making the right connections.

Use your misery to push you to take the first step — and then the next

Building a sustainable writing business is tough and takes a while, especially if you want to work full time. Sure, you may not be able to quit your job tomorrow or next month — it took me six months of planning — but focus on your unwavering desire to leave your job for the opportunity to live life your own way.

If you put in your best effort, your last day at your miserable job will come sooner than you think.

Image: Turn your misery into motivation

Are you stuck in a day job, but planning to go freelance?


Filed Under: Freelancing


  • Todd Weber says:

    Wow. How did you know the walls of my cubicle were beige – and padded?

  • Summer says:

    It’s funny how every person has a different level of acceptable. I really thought I would spend my entire career in the safety of my cubicle, but that safety has become suffocating. Is redundantly redundant a thing? If it’s not, then I want to patent the the saying, because it’s become the story of my professional life. I don’t think I will last in this new age of efficiency, processes and measurement if it means doing things which have zero value (like spending time on redundant tasks). I think I’ve reached my level of acceptable and it might be time to plan my escape. I’m intimidated by the thought of starting over, but also excited by the prospect of doing something I love. Knowing you planned and accomplished your goal makes me feel more confident about getting started!

    • Taylor says:

      I definitely thought I would stay too. Actually, I didn’t even know there was a choice to be made. Everyone in my company drank the Kool-Aid so I just went through the motions half a sleep.

      And then one day (at work lol) I stumbled upon an alternative lifestyle blog and the idea to pursue my passion spread within me like wildfire. It’s very intimidating to make a change and many won’t agree with your decision. Get excited, get pumped, get determined – that’s what will push you through!

      • Summer says:

        Thanks for the encouragement! I’m working on a WordPress blog to get familiar with blogging and visiting every site I can find about freelance work. I’m excited and ready to put down the Kool-Aid. This cubicle dweller is planning her escape!

  • Helen says:

    Oh my god, it’s almost as if this article was written just for me! EVERYTHING you wrote, I can relate to as something that I’m going through and / or something that I wish to achieve.

    I’ve now put up quotes in my cubicle and I’m going to print this article and re-read it whenever I feel like throwing in the towel.

    I know I’ll be a full-time freelance writer some day, I just know it! 😀 thanks again.

    • Taylor says:

      AMAZING!! I’m so glad you found motivation in this article – it’s the main reason I wrote it. I know how much it sucks to be in this position and you’re not alone. With willpower you can achieve anything! Get it girl! ;p

  • Martina Davis says:

    Great inspiration, keep it up!
    Well done for breaking out of the box.

  • So true to life it’s astonishing. Miserable jobs can certainly suck the life out of a passionate person but it is up to us to turn that frustration into pure gold. The to-do list creation is so important and I’m definitely putting the motivational quotes on sticky notes plan into effect my next day at work!

    Thanks for writing and reading,

    Sarah Butland
    author of Arm Farm, Brain Tales and Blood Day

  • Gina says:

    It can be done; thanks for being another example of that:-) Great thoughts & points!

  • Marcy McKay says:

    Thanks, Taylor. I LOVE that this wasn’t a Pollyanna post. Misery sucks, but can be harnessed to take us where we want to go. Great!

  • Elke Feuer says:

    Thank you for this inspiring post, Taylor! I’m working on my 5 year plan towards being a full-time writer. I’m 1 year into my plan and it’s not easy, but I’m determined to get there.

    Your post was just the inspiration I needed!

    • Taylor says:

      Hi Elke!

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post. Congrats on acting on your plan! There were (and are) tough times when I want to throw in the towel. But when you get to the reward it’s all worth it. Good Luck! 🙂

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