Guest Post: Life of a Self-Employed

This week’s guest post is by Paul Lenard. He writes today about the joys and annoyances of being a stay-at-home writer — and the notions others have about him as a result of his job title.

Life of a Self-Employed

I am a writer. But if I tell people that’s what I do for a living, generally the response I get is either a blank look, or something sarcastic along the lines of “Do you write stuff like Twilight?” So these days, I simply say that I’m self-employed.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to sit in a wood-paneled room, surrounded by works of my literary peers, while I sit at a typewriter on an old-fashioned solid oak desk. My days are mostly spent chasing either a small child or the cat round the house, cleaning up after them and scribbling down ideas into the tiny notepad I keep on my person with ‘Keep Calm & Write On’ emblazoned on the front. Only at night does my writing superhero cape come on and I get down to the real task of weaving a tale. Trust me; this isn’t how I thought writing would be.

When you hit writer’s block, , I find that the greatest inspiration isn’t reading a famous novel, watching TV or doing research in a stuffy library. Writers in general are fascinated by people, so when I need a bit of inspiration, I take my small person out in a pushchair and walk around town, along the shops, through the parks, always watching the behaviour of others around me. Sometimes I’ll stop at a cafe and watch out of the window. Once you’ve done this a few times, you start to notice the people walking past and create whole lives for them out of the mere seconds of their lives that you witness.

For example, a young couple walk past. They’re well-dressed in trendy clothes, so they’re comfortable with money and into appearances. They’re walking close to each other but not holding hands, and not talking, therefore they’re fighting. They’re fighting because he wants her to move in with him and the last man she lived with ended up running off with her best friend. Those few seconds of watching them have given me two characters and the basis of a story. I can do this for ages, if I can keep my small person happy and have enough money for coffee. Coffee is the writer’s muse, after all.

use those around me as inspiration. Friends going through rough times (names changed of course), work colleagues, family, anyone is fair game.

After my small person is in bed, the cat has been placated with food and I’ve had my own meal (which costs far less than the cat’s dinner, naturally), I can begin the serious business of writing. Sometimes, if the creative juices aren’t flowing, I’ll read instead. I find it best to avoid reading something from the genre I’m writing about, just in case something subconsciously slips into my writing that isn’t mine. So I read anything I can get my hands on, even trashy magazines about celebrities.

Sometimes this kick-starts me, sometimes not. If it does, I’ll be hunched over my laptop until my eyes droop; writing at night comes easier to me. I’ll exhaust as much as possible from my inspiration that day, and try to weave it into a greater story. Then I can crawl into bed happy. It may not seem like much, but every inch of its mine, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

This post was written by Paul Lenard. He has always been an avid reader since a young age and is an English Literature graduate. He has recently become a father and thus enjoyed writing for kids as well as travel and foreign affairs. He has had short stories and poetry published in competitions.


  1. Peryite says:

    I think that’s some good advice. It’s all too easy to sit and wait for inspiration to fall out of the sky and carry you as it sometimes does, but it’s important to be able to create ideas and plots just from ordinary things and people. This reminds me a little of how HG Wells walked around his neighborhood imagining ways for his neighbors to die when he was writing War of the Worlds.

  2. I’d love to work from home, but the good thing about having a day job is that it does provide plenty of inspiration for writing, especially when you work with the general public. People watching is one of my favourite ways to find ideas. 🙂

  3. mary brady says:

    This is the best guest post I’ve read here. Normally, they are pretty awful.

    This man, however, is refreshingly straight-forward about the work of producing art. It must be done in the moments between the banal duties of living.

    Once you’ve had to work a 40 hour week, you cease ‘waiting for inspiration’ to do your art. (And caring for the little person counts as an 80 hour per week job!) Instead, you must sit down & crank out the art when you have the time.

    This is a good thing, though. Once you get over the idea that you need to be in a particular mood to do your art, you are free! You can rely on yourself to simply attack it as you would the laundry or the dishes.

    Further, it becomes just as urgent to do you art each day as it is to do any other daily chore. You miss it. You don’t feel right if you haven’t done something creative each day.

    For me, that’s when art really flows. It is a need, one I believe I can satisfy with the talent I have. Sure, it is always a challenge, but it is one I don’t avoid. I cannot wait to get to
    it. I don’t care about fame or fortune–it’s the doing of it that is as necessary as breathing to me now.

    I feel that same urgency in this young man’s post. He crawls into bed happy! “It may not seem like much,” he writes. Yes,
    it does! It’s EVERYTHING! You love your life, Paul, & you say you would not change it for the world!

    That is success. Right here, right now. How wonderful that you already feel this way. You are, indeed, a very successful writer & I am very glad you wrote this guest blog post for us.
    Thank you.

    L&K, MaryB

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