Moonlighting for Extra Cash By Diane Stark

I’m usually a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer, but since this school year has started and the flu has been so widespread, I’ve been asked to substitute teach at my children’s school a lot more often. While it has really cut into my writing time, my husband and I were pleased to have the extra income. That is, until we realized that I was actually earning more money when I stayed at home and wrote during my free moments throughout the day. This was quite a surprise, realizing that writing was paying me more than a “real job.”

But I learned something important. If I could use my free moments at home to earn extra cash writing, I could do the same thing in my free time at the school. I began to take my writer’s notebook with me when I substituted. And when the students went to art class or music, I sat at the regular teacher’s desk and scratched out a story. When the kids went to lunch and recess, I wrote query letters. Just like when I was at home, I made the most of those free moments in my day. And it paid off.

Last week, I got a check from the school district for the days I had taught. I also received two checks for stories I’d written. The bulk of these stories had been written while I was subbing at the school. I’d worked on them during my free time at my “real job.” I’d gotten paid twice for my time. Even this success story was – shh, don’t tell – written on a break during my day as a substitute teacher.

Anyone can do this. We all have a few minutes throughout our day that we can use to advance our writing careers. Obviously, you don’t want to overdo it and get yourself in trouble at your day job. But everyone gets a lunch period and a break or two throughout the day. We can all use those few moments to write, or to do some research, or to read a writing-related article. Look for those free minutes in your day and use them to your advantage. Even a few minutes each day can add up over time.

Oh, and one more thing I learned: Writing is a real job, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Diane Stark is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Her work has been published in New Parent Magazine, Woman’s World, and five volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her first book, a devotional for teachers, will be released next month. She can be reached at DianeStark19 – at –


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