THE BLOG
08/29/2014 08:37 am ET Updated Oct 29, 2014

Writers, Should You Quit Your Day Job?

This Labor Day, Grammarly would like to celebrate authors who worked full time and still wrote some of the world's greatest literature. While many writers held down jobs early in their careers -- sometimes inspiring their masterpieces, like Herman Melville's stint on a whaling ship or Dashiell Hammett's work with the Pinkerton detective agency -- more often than not they left those jobs behind when their writing careers took off. Here are five writers who didn't quit their day jobs:

William Carlos Williams
Although he was one of the most influential poets of the 20th century and, along with his friend Ezra Pound, one of the primary figures in the Imagist movement, William Carlos Williams kept his New Jersey medical practice open for 40 years. In his autobiography, he claimed, "One occupation complements the other, they are two parts of a whole, it is not two jobs at all, one rests the man when the other fatigues him."

Joseph Heller
In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Curry discovered that writers are particularly adept at balancing quotidian work and creative work. Joseph Heller, for example, worked in magazine advertising while writing Catch-22. According to Curry, Heller explained that it took him eight years, working two or three hours a night at his kitchen table, to finish the novel. "I gave up once and started watching television with my wife," said Heller. "Television drove me back to Catch-22."

Bram Stoker
The author of Dracula (and, indirectly, the man responsible for the vampire craze that continues to this day; now you know who to blame for Twilight and the last three seasons of True Blood), Bram Stoker worked for the famed English actor Sir Henry Irving as an assistant and later as manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London's West End for 30 years.

Toni Morrison
Despite winning the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes for literature, Toni Morrison maintained a career as an editor at Random House and taught university literature courses. Oh, and she raised two boys as a single parent. Reflecting on the hectic nature of her career, Morrison said, "When I sit down to write I never brood. I have so many other things to do, with my children and teaching, that I can't afford it. I brood, thinking of ideas, in the automobile when I'm driving to work or in the subway or when I'm mowing the lawn. By the time I get to the paper something's there--I can produce."

E.B. White
This list wouldn't be complete without E.B. White, children's author and the man who brought us our beloved Elements of Style. Though he was well-known during his lifetime as the author of kid's classics Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, he kept his day job as a contributing editor with The New Yorker for decades.

As these and other great authors demonstrate, it's not necessary to quit your day job in order to write; in fact, many of them continued to find inspiration in their jobs. They also benefited from the structure, socialization, and stability of their careers.

So before you decide to take the big plunge, consider practical matters like savings, mortgages, and health insurance. Just remember that you don't have to write full time to be a "real" writer!