what customer service has taught me about writing.

I wish I could  write or work with books all day, but I don't. My job and writing don't seem to have much in common. I work with numbers and customers and tiny details. I deal with invoices and receipts, bills, and phone calls instead of diction, plot, and character development. But there are definitely a few lessons I've learned from interacting with customers that I apply to my writing process.

1. Honesty and clarity. I need to be honest and clear with myself about my goals. Having unrealistic expectations of myself just sets me up for a world of disappointment later. I wouldn't make a vague promise to a client and then renege on it later, would I? If I know that it is impossible given my schedule for me to write more than 1,000 words a day, then I shouldn't keep setting that goal.

2. Respect and attention. Obviously there's a human being on the other end of that email or phone line--one that deserves my respect and full attention. Likewise if I am writing, I shouldn't be comparing myself unfairly to others or descend into jealousy. That's not fair, it's not productive, and I won't have anything to show for it at the end of the day.

3. Patience. We live in a world of Amazon Prime 2-Day shipping (and in some cities, same day shipping!). We expect everything to be instantaneous. Patience is key--losing your temper with somebody just sets you back even further than you started. My story probably won't get written in a week, and I shouldn't be impatient with myself for facing that fact.

Just because we can't write full time doesn't mean that we can't put what we learn on the job to work in our writing. Has your career taught you anything? Given you ideas for stories or settings? I'd love to know!