Carpenter and Actor Nick Offerman and Other Authors’ Non-Writing Day Jobs

By: Christopher Grillo

If you’ve ever tried to become a writer, you may know what it’s like trying to balance a 9 to 5 job while chipping away at your great American novel, collection of poetry, or nonfiction bestseller. Whether you aspire to write a book or just like reading them, check out these authors who’ve managed to write must-read books while maintaining successful day jobs or side hustles.

Nick Offerman: Actor/Woodworker

“In my day job, performing for folks is a gas, and I am very tickled to make a nice living as a professional jackass, but it is the production of sawdust and shavings that brings me the most profound satisfaction.”

While he may be best-known as the hilariously deadpan Ron Swanson from NBC’s Parks and Recreation, it’s just one of the many roles author Nick Offerman has played both on- and off-screen.

The author of four books and the owner of the Offerman Woodshop grew up on his family’s pig farm in Minooka, Illinois, where the ability to use tools safely and effectively was instilled in him at a young age. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Offerman began working as a set designer for a theater company, eventually making his way to Hollywood, where he supplemented his income as a struggling actor doing set design. Not just a means to an end, to this day, Offerman maintains his woodshop and has written extensively about woodworking.

John Grisham: Lawyer

I seriously doubt I would ever have written the first story had I not been a lawyer. I never dreamed of being a writer. I wrote only after witnessing a trial.”

One of the bestselling novelists of all time, John Grisham is well-known for a body of work largely informed by his previous career as a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer. Perhaps less well-known to his many fans: it wasn’t until after 12 years dedicated to writing, during which he published 11 titles, that Grisham would extend into themes beyond those of the courtroom.

During the trial that Grisham mentions in the above quote, the author witnessed the testimony of a 12-year-old girl who had been raped and beaten. This inspired the plot of A Time to Kill, which took three more years to complete before its 1988 release.

In addition to practicing law, Grisham was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1983, where he served until deciding to pursue writing full-time in 1990. Despite not having practiced law in six years, Grisham took a break from writing in 1996 to represent the family of a railroad brakeman who was killed on the job. The author proved to have not missed a beat, successfully arguing the case and winning his law career’s largest verdict.

Rachel Hollis: CEO of Chic Media

“I wanted to cook food that was delicious, but achievable. I wanted to figure out what to wear, but I couldn’t afford anything beyond the clearance rack . . . When I couldn’t find the type of content I was looking for, I decided to try and create it myself.”

Rachel Hollis’s Girl, Wash Your Face is part memoir and part motivational self-development, based on the author’s own experiences founding popular website TheChicSite.com. While the book spent 14 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, predating it is her fictional The Girl’s Series, a three-book collection drawing from Hollis’s experience as an event planner in Los Angeles. If you think Hollis has been less busy since then, think again: in addition to her event planning and lifestyle site, Hollis–a mother of four–also runs a marketing consultancy of the same name, Chic Media.

Lydia Kang: MD

“It’s probably 40 percent doctor work and 80 percent writing work, which doesn’t add up to 100 percent, you will notice. I haven’t watched Netflix in years.”

Lydia Kang is more well-rounded than most: a multi-genre author with fiction, nonfiction, and even poetry books under her publishing belt, the Ted speaker also continues to practice internal medicine. Because of that, she deals with the very unique problem of occasionally signing an autograph during the medical examination of a patient/fan.

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