Friday, August 6, 2010

Stealing From Your Day Job


I'm going make a huge assumption that most of my blog readers have a day job.

Working in an office, online, or taking care of kiddos (yep--that's a job too!)—whatever you do, do you steal bits of inspiration from your day job and apply it to your writing?

I'm fascinated by the history of medicine and pharmacology. I can't seem to resist putting a bit of that inspiration in my writing.

What have you stolen from work that ended up in a WIP?

67 comments:

Nicole MacDonald said...

The view from my desk inspired the first full on fight scene in my MS :)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Hmm, nothing yet. I'm waiting for the inspiration to hit with that one. lol.

Maria Zannini said...

I've used an amalgamation of people's names.

Alesa Warcan said...

That's neat timing. I'm just finishing my entry for Elizabeth Mueller blogfest... And I draw from my coworkers' disaffection in it.

I usually try to write about fun or interesting stuff, so I don't draw from my work much. ; j

You have the advantage of having a useful center of interest. : j

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I can't think of anything. Oh, wait, I know. Like many moms, I read a lot of self-help books (or at least I used to) about parenting. This was essential for me as one of my kids has ADHD and asperger's syndrome. In my current wip, my mc's mom is obsessed with parenting self-help books and chatting with her mom's group. It was part reason why the mc never told her mom the truth. She didn't want to be analyzed by her mom and her mom's friends.

Mohamed Mughal said...

Amazing! My "Friday Friends" post this morning has to do with the nexus between career and writing, so related thoughts are already on my mind :)

As an absurdist, I have to say that the workplace is one of the BEST places to catalogue life's deepest absurdities. So there.

Robert Guthrie said...

I've had three jobs since college: teaching English in Japan, being a counselor for refugees, and working at a school for the blind. All jobs that fed my soul and therefore inspired and informed my writing.

Piedmont Writer said...

Most of the things I steal are actually from other people. Random people I see out, or conversations I hear. I steal people's names a lot too.

Palindrome said...

If I put anything from my day job in a book it would be so very boring. My job is not fascinating. At. All. But I do hear some great stories from my co-workers. Those I love to twist and make my minor characters that much more interesting.

Nicole Murray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carrie Burtt said...

Hi Lydia, it is funny you are blogging about this subject, because I do not have a computer at home so I do most of my blogging at work. I have a post I am working on that is about part of what I do at work....just have not finished it yet. I work at a library, and one of my jobs is to repair the books. Anyway, love your blog,and hope you have a great weekend! :-)

Nicole Murray said...

Human behavior, interactions and reactions, extreme abnormal behavior (i.e. talking to ghosts, shooting at law enforcement, naked activities in public and general loonery) I have used in my WIP's...

Recovering Mental Health Worker...enough said.

I have also used a lot of the old recycled city buildings and Mansions I've worked in as inspiration. Nothing says inspiration like working in a century Tudor after midnight, with a full board of crazy as your company.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I don't have a 'leave the house' day job anymore, but you're right that being a mom/housewife is a job, too. As for the past occupations, I always figure a little bit of everything I've encountered goes into my fiction. Specifically, though, I borrowed the odd mannerisms of a dept. head at my last job. He was too unusual to not turn into a character.

Erinn said...

I teach middle school and I write YA so lots of the "school" stuff I stole from my real life. I ask myself if my students would really do what I make my characters do too.
Sometimes I write during planning too.

patti said...

I actually am writing full-time but make a part-time job of interviewing folks/friends at a local coffee house (yeah, the friends don't know they're being interviewed.) You wouldn't BELIEVE the drama, the chaos, the LIFE that unfolds over lattes.

Of course my past teaching, court reporter and one-summer geologist job draw from a deep well of amazing information.

You go, girl.
Patti

Bathwater said...

Watching real people in my life allow me to make characters that are three dimensional. All people have good and bad traits, ticks that make them stand out. What makes a leader in your office, usually makes a good leader in your rebel army.

aspiring_x said...

character traits from the wild and crazy crew i get to see at work!

Bee said...

College is my day job. And I doodle in classes..bits for my WiP, when the prof's not looking.

Munk said...

Without question, I am inspired by my day job. Science offers endless learning and leaning opportunities.

Laura Eno said...

Mannerisms, scenery, complaints. :)

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

Recovering from back surgery, I don't have a day job. However I get plenty of inspiration from the neighborhood folks around here. Certainly my neighbor to the left will wind up in my MS somewhere ;) Have a great weekend you!

DaniSue said...

I work with catty teenage girls and since I write YA I get more ideas than I know what to do with!

Sarah Enni said...

I borrowed quite literally -- took the locale of a business I cover for work and set my WiP there!

Amparo Ortiz said...

Well, I don't borrow from work 'cause I'm super lazy and don't have a job (yet... oh, the horror). But my B. A. in Psychology is quite useful. I like to add some serious psychology to character development and back story. Oh, and for the overall theme as well. It helps a lot with explaining the 'why' aspect of the plot.

Rena said...

Oh wow, my kids ARE my inspiration! I homeschool (two of my four) and sometimes they'll stop doing their work and come up with the craziest stories. Or, they'll talk about something I'm working on, tossing in their ideas of what they think should happen. My current WIP incorporates just about everything around me -- from my kids, my husband's job, local news stories, the wildlife at my house, etc.

Great post, Lydia!

Jaydee Morgan said...

I haven't stolen any ideas involving my workplace - it's definitely not good fodder for great ideas. Although, I interact with people all day long which gives me plenty of characterization ideas.

Carol Kilgore said...

Where to begin! Little things, mostly. Attitudes. How different personality types interact. Design. Once I based a character on a real person, but the character wasn't nearly as nasty as the real one. I could probably do a better job with that now :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nothing from work! I don't want it following me home.

Mary said...

I recently retired from a church office. There's enough there for three authors and then some. You wouldn't believe!

Matthew Rush said...

The only thing I steal from my day job is money (by reading blogs while getting paid). Shhhh.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Everything seems to end up in my writing, but my dayjob (mom) seems to end up largely in my blog (in recognizable details, but I'm sure it's laced through my WIPs as well!).

JEM said...

I think it's more that I steal personality traits from the people I work with and apply those to characters. I gain understanding of people's actions by analyzing them, so I have a built in character analysis when I start writing.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm a substitute teacher who often works at the high school, who also happens to write YA. Yes, ample material! I think I've got the teen voice down pretty well.

Hope you got your 10 am inspiration.

MT said...

I stole an entire teenage conversation - when I workshopped the chapter, most said something about how realistic the dialog was. No wonder!

Jolene said...

Too much to count.

Amie B said...

i find inspiration in settings and sometimes conversations. in my last manuscript the MC was pretty much a duplicate of my daughter.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Lydia..I keep stealing inspiration from everywhere: the view from my window is amazing, so is teaching my students ;their imagination is awesome, the people I meet (I study their behavior and mannerisms) can be found in few of my characters.

Kenda said...

I've been stealing from the family tree lately--oh, boy, the stuff I'm finding :-)

DEZMOND said...

I'm not a writer, just a literary translator, but If I would write a book, I'm almost sure I would use a lot of my psychology work elements in creating characters and even plots. And of course there would probably be some dashing linguist as well in the story :)))

Marsha Sigman said...

Definitely wierd co-workers! Just certain traits not anything they would recognize, I'm sure!

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

I have to laugh at the "Get Inspired" by 10 part...isn't it enough that we brainstorm, sit at the computer, and agonize over the minuscule things of our profession? LOL. I suppose not. Inspiration it is! Can I borrow your brain for a minute while you are getting coffee? LOL.

P.S.--You bet I steal inspiration from bits of my day during "mommy duty". Like incorporating spilt nail polish at the doctors office into an MS. Good fun stuff!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I worked for an advertising agency in Los Angels, Venice Beach to be exact. It was such a colorful era in my life and I'm always drawing on my memories of that time for my stories.

Happy weekend!

Krispy said...

I used to work in a candy store during college at Berkeley. Both the store and the city and campus inspired bits and pieces in my writing. Fun times.

Random book rec because I think you might find it interesting: For my Drugs and the Brain class, my prof had us buy the first 2 Pharmako books by Dale Pendell instead of actual textbooks. There are 3 in the series Pharmako/Poeia, P/Dynamis, and P/Gnosis. I loved them because they discuss the pharmacology of plants, but also mix in history, poetry, and literature.

Ruth D~ said...

Since I retired, I lost my well of student stories...

Amanda Sablan said...

I work in retail so that gives me a great chance to spy on people and observe them. :B

Aubrie said...

I bet there's a lot of inspiring things in your job! Now for me to get some from mine.... :)

Hardygirl said...

Conversations and great new slang words (I'm a mom)!

sf

Lola Sharp said...

I draw inspiration from every job I've ever had, every place I've ever been, every person I've ever met, every emotion, every sensory experience.

I think looking deeper into all relationships and experiences is part of what I love about writing.
That and my love for words. Finding the perfect arrangement for the perfect string of words to pull a story together is very magical.

I love that graphic! Did you make it?

So talented and brilliant, you are. :)

Have a fantastic weekend, Lydia.

Love,
Lola

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

What an interesting question. I don’t know off the top of my head, but I know I must have.

Karen Lange said...

Hmm, good question. Need to give this some thought!
Have a good weekend,
Karen

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I'm a house manager...LOL! I taught elementary school for 17 years and am married to a corporate guy who needs someone to manage the rest of his life. I hadn't thought about that being good material until now, but hmmm. I tend to get material from history; mine, friends, family members, the world...or I make it up. (wink)

I need to appologize to you Lydia. I just realized I've had your name spelled incorrectly on my sidebar for I don't know how long. SORRY!!! I am so bad at spelling.

CharTheShark said...

Well, I have the advantage of going to an interesting place called "high school" so there's lots of interesting things there: like how people talk, the newest slangs, how they dress, and how they mock each other, which is fantastic. But I have to admit that school isn't my main source of information, which is usually other books, road trips, parents, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer which is rerunning...

btw I like your graphics and thanks for following!

Abby said...

I'm studying music right now, so I take a lot of stuff from music and put it in my writing. My blog posts especially have a lot of musical elements. So are the blog posts I ghostwrite for my professor.

Terri Tiffany said...

I don't work outside the home right now but a bookstore always seems to show up in my books from owning one:))

Zoe C. Courtman said...

For me, though I no longer work the 9-5, I tend to swipe the co-worker interactions. Nothing like being holed up with people for eight hours for getting some psychology drive-bys!

Susan Fields said...

As a doctor, you probably have tons of stuff you can use in your writing! My day job is mothering, and I do steal stuff from my kids. My job in my last life was an electrical engineer, and there really wasn't too much of interest there.

Giles Hash said...

I don't have the type of day job that really applies to my WIP. I do, however, steal personality traits from clients and customers. :)

E. Arroyo said...

Working in foster care, advocating for youth has been my main goal. Knowing the complexities of our "at risk" youth has helped me keep true to my current WIP about a girl who is navigating through societal expectations vs- her own dreams.

Lua said...

One of my characters from my second novel is a lawyer… :)
I guess even though I really didn’t enjoy practicing it, it did inspire me enough to create a character who’s a lawyer…

Heather said...

I steal experiences from my job all the time! Fights, conflict, inspiration for antagonists, corruption, oppression, to name a few. I bet you're wondering what I do for a living! ;-)

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, love the graphic. That is pretty much my daily schedule! :)

I get ideas from my kids. THE THREE NINJA PIGS was inspired by a comment my son made about karate.

Heather Taylor said...

Oh absolutely. When I was in high school, I worked at Subway for four years and let me tell you, those were some truly coming of age tales. I entered a girl and left a young lady hehe.

Deb Salisbury said...

Hi, Lydia! I left you a little something on my blog today! Come visit me. :D

Melissa said...

Well, I'm currently unemployed but University has certainly offered inspiration - astronomy, chemistry and history have all been classes that offered MUCH inspiration and ideas or solidified uncertain ones. Also, I think, whether writers realize it or not, we steal from our every day lives all the time. So my job experiences have probably influenced my writing.

Lynda Young said...

I have no job and no kids..but I gain inspiration from everything else :)

jules said...

I work in a Drs office and unfortunately, my writing is generally getting away from the thought of work. Though I do meet some characters!

Vicki Rocho said...

Love the "crackberry" - crack me up!

I get inspiration from all over. I don't interact with many people face-to-face any more, but still there are plenty of character traits I run into with people on the phone that will find their way into my work.

Lately I've been having flashes of a murder mystery where the unassuming receptionist is the guilty party -- not that I would ever wanna knock someone off....