As any aspiring writer knows, a day job is practically mandatory. Here are day jobs from five of the most famous writers of our times.

1. Harper Lee


Harper Lee is now known as the author of one of the great American novels but before that, she worked as a reservation clerk at Eastern Airlines for eight years. A couple of her closest friends got together and generously gave her a check with instructions that she must use it to quit her job and write for a year. The fruits of that year? To Kill A Mockingbird.

2. Kurt Vonnegut


Kurt Vonnegut was the manager of a Saab Dealership, enlisted in the U.S. Army, worked in public relations, and was a volunteer firefighter before becoming famous for his Beat lifestyle and writings.

3. Stephen King


Stephen King worked as a janitor in a high school while laboring to get his fiction published. He says that his time spent as a janitor inspired the opening girls’ locker room scene in Carrie.

4. J.D. Salinger


J.D. Salinger once worked as the entertainment director on a Swedish luxury cruise liner.

5. Maya Angelou


At the age of 16, Maya Angelou became San Francisco’s first black street car conductor. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey many years later, Angelou said, “I loved the uniforms.  So I said ‘that’s the job I want!'”

So, fellow writers, take heart. No matter if you’re a waitress, barista, phlebotomist, small-time journalist, vlogger, or any number of other careers, read this list and take a deep breath. There is no straight and narrow path to becoming a writer. There is only the path you take.

Contributing Editor

Fortesa Latifi is a 21-year old poet. Her first book, This Is How We Find Each Other was published through Where Are You Press in 2014. She hopes you find something good here. She knows you will.