Every artist has their muse, but for many famous writers throughout history, that muse might not be what you’d expect. From janitorial jobs to time spent serving in wars, there’s no shortage of histories that the writers we know and love have experienced.
But aside from inspiring us, these stories emphasize an important point: anyone can write, and good writing comes from the heart.
There’s no textbook on how to become a great writer, but these fine examples show us that there is hope for all of us yet, no matter where we might be in our careers.
1. Anne Rice
Before writing her breakout novel Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice found work as an insurance claims processor.
During the 1960s, she spent much of her time typing away and attending classes at San Francisco University. She pursued a Ph.D. program at another university before stepping back to focus on her love for writing.
2. George Orwell
Legendary author George Orwell wore many hats before he slipped into the role of a full-time writer.
Orwell most notably served in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma and worked as a dishwasher to support himself. He was also a World War II correspondent.
Given these early experiences, it’s no surprise themes of totalitarianism, politics, and social commentary permeate his work.
3. Dr. Seuss
Before he was the beloved Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel was an illustrator and cartoonist for publications like Vanity Fair.
Later on in his career, Seuss began work as a political cartoonist and even worked in the animation and film department of the U.S. Army during World War II.
His extensive artistic experience and unique perspectives on sociopolitical issues shaped iconic works like Horton Hears a Who and The Lorax.
4. Agatha Christie
Famed crime and detective fiction writer Dame Agatha Christie spent her early years volunteering as a nurse during World War I.
Christie had no formal training as a nurse but learned her skills on the job before transitioning to work as a pharmacist later on.
Young Agatha was inspired by her experiences with war and medicine. Surrounded by injuries, emergencies, and gruesome deaths, she developed a knack for melodrama and mysteries that ended up defining her career.
5. Ernest Hemingway
Young Hemingway worked as a journalist for many years, giving him plenty of experience practicing his prose. He became a correspondent for The Toronto Star before working as an ambulance driver during World War I.
But Ernest Hemingway’s adventures didn’t end there – he also served as a war correspondent in World War II and the Spanish Civil War.
Death and violence surrounded Hemingway and took a stronghold in his later written works.
6. Toni Morrison
Revolutionary author Toni Morrison had a long history in education and scholarship before she delved into full-time writing.
She worked as a lecturer in English before becoming an editor for L.W. Singer, a textbook division of Random House Publishing.
While with Random House, Toni paved the way for others by becoming the first black woman senior editor in the fiction department.
7. Stephen King
Stephen King’s work history is as lengthy as his list of publications. He spent time as a high school English teacher,, and laundry worker to support himself before his writing career took off.
It’s hard to imagine a young King writing away at night while scrubbing floors and dusting corridors during the day, but these early jobs supported him through the writing of his early novels.
8. Maya Angelou
The prolific Maya Angelou was a dancer, fry cook, singer, nightclub performer, and radio broadcaster before she was a celebrated author. Angelou’s early life also included time spent as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement and as a journalist in Egypt and Ghana.
With such a diverse portfolio of personal experiences, it’s no wonder Angelou would go on to inspire generations of women and underrepresented groups to dream big.
9. Gabriel García Márquez
Famed Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, or “Gabo,” also worked as a journalist before focusing on full-time fiction writing. He started his career as a reporter, columnist, and foreign correspondent for several Colombian newspapers.
A passion for storytelling and pushing the boundaries was clear throughout Gabo’s life, leading him to become one of the greatest Latin American writers of all time.
10. Franz Kafka
Kafka spent his early days as an insurance officer at the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute in Prague.
Most of his time was spent investigating personal injury claims in factories, which was just about as fun as it sounds.
Being thrust into this environment gave Kafka plenty of time to ponder the human condition, bureaucracy, and other themes he would later explore in his writing.
If there’s one thing these famous writers have shown us, it’s that anyone can make it at any time. You never know which project will be the one that catapults you into a new career.
And if some of the most influential minds of the past few centuries can come from all walks of life, so can those that will shape our future.
The best writers become who they are because of their unique perspectives and experiences. They learn from their surroundings and use their values to guide them toward creating meaningful content to share with others.
At Inkless, we strive to do the same. We are writers, but we’re also so much more – we’re thinkers, educators, and leaders aiming to change the world of content writing for the better.
If you want to bring high-quality, timeless pieces of writing to your business, we want to work with you.
We never miss a deadline and work with you to create a plan that fits your needs and goals.
Start a conversation today to see the difference for yourself. Contact us here on our website, via LinkedIn, or by reaching out to email@example.com.