Wallace Stevens sold insurance, T.S. Eliot worked in a bank, and Herman Melville worked as comptroller general of New York City.

Wallace Stevens: Sold Insurance

But today it seems like it’s harder than ever to support oneself and find time to write. Yesterday, AM New York reported that the average rent in Manhattan hit an all-time high of $3,418 a month. Can you imagine? At least in Washington Heights, the Literary Man’s writerly roost, rents are much cheaper, but even in Brooklyn and Queens the prices have been creeping every skyward. With the cost of living getting higher and higher, the need to work, it seems, can no longer be ignored.

Let’s assume you, dear reader, are reading this post at work, or else you’re somehow obligated to working a so-called regular schedule, 9 to 5, or a restaurant 4-12 shift, or something of the like.

Tom Eliot, Big Shot Banker

How do you find time to write? The only ever writing advice that mattered, and still matters, was given to this young writer many years back at Vanderbilt University. Then a pupil of Professor Tony Earley, the Literary Man was instructed “to write at least five days a week, like a job, or like playing a sport: you do it all week, give it a rest over the weekend, and then pick it back up Monday morning.” This means waking up at 6:30 am to write for 90 minutes before vanishing into the work place all day. Other writers, like Faulkner, supposedly started writing at night.

How about you, fellow writers? When do you find time to write? Do you have any tricks for writing at work? Other lessons of discipline to share with your kindly kindred literary spirits? It’s tough, but if you add up 500 words a day, times roughly 300 days of writing in a year, you’ve got yourself a 150,000 word novel (or epic poem).