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JIC: Juggling Dreams and Day Jobs


KatHeadshotDreams shine bright.  They make our days lighter and our hearts skip a beat. But a shadow hovers over us like a storm cloud threatening to snuff out the gleam of our dreams.  This shadow has a name, tis the dreaded “Day Job”.

We, as dream chasers, are in pursuit of our ultimate goals a minimum of 40 hours per week.  Though, most of us, are putting in even more time than that.  That’s great, because the more time we spend honing our craft, working the business aspect of things, writing, watching films, etc. the better and more knowledgeable we become.  But, we have the obvious lame leg that pulls our focus on a daily basis, and that’s the fact that we are getting paid little to nothing for our time and efforts.  Many of us take up a job in another line of work to support ourselves while continuing to follow our hopeful path.  This can get tiresome and exhausting and the time we spend there can begin to interfere with what we really want.  You may start to feel jaded (FYI, I hate everything that word stands for).  I myself work two to three “day-jobs” to ensure I’m secure enough to freely pursue my dreams of acting, writing, and directing (I know, talk about a lot on my plate, right?)  So, what’s the solution?

I see it as two fold:  1) Choosing your day job wisely, and 2) adhering to a meticulously scheduled plan of action.


Yes, we need to work to make money, but choosing a job that allows you to mentally stay in tune with your goals and aspirations can ultimately lead to success.  There are two types of jobs I believe fit the criteria: a job that requires little mental energy to complete or a job that is directly related to your goals and can put you in a position to get paid to learn more about your craft or can help you to create relationships with the decision makers on your target list.

There is a joke that’s gone around Hollywood for many a moons.  Guy asks this girl, “What do you do?”, the girl says, “I’m an actress.”  The man responds, “So, you’re a waitress.”  Offensive, yes, but also true for a reason.  Not only does a job at a restaurant allow your days to be free for auditioning, but there is also very little mental energy being exerted when you’re not working and often, even when you are working.  You go in, you do your job and you go home.  Sure, we have the few days where something goes wrong and we carry that with us a little longer. But for the most part, it’s not a job you have to think about.  There’s no need for real homework.  There are no phone calls that come in to discuss upcoming work activities.  There are no files to take home at the end of the day to prepare notes for the next day.  Promotional work is the same thing.  This is important because as you go through the physical monotony of the work day, your mind is free to come up with new ideas for screenplays, or you can mentally rehearse your character’s lines and workout their back story, you can organize the shot list for the short you’ll be directing this weekend.  This type of job is a great option for us goal seekers.

The other type of job that is conducive to our lifestyle is the one that is directly in line with our goals.  If you want to produce, being a Production Assistant can give you the knowledge and experience of working on set to understand all the components that go into making a movie.  Being a reader for a production company can teach you what scripts look like, what makes a good script, what makes a bad script, what makes a script that a production company like this wants to green light?  Whatever you do, make sure you take advantage of your time by introducing yourself to the people who work there, pick their brains, take them out for coffee.  This is an opportunity to build relationships.  Remember, this a “who you know” business more than most other businesses.  Do not fritter away your time hidden behind a desk.

The other thing that will help facilitate a fresh, unstressed mind, when pursuing your dreams while maintaining a day-job is….


I would have gone mad a long time ago if it weren’t for my planner.  It goes everywhere with me.  Yes, I still keep a physical planner, I just prefer something physically tangible.  But whatever way you’d like, just make sure you have a written weekly plan.  This allows you to account for your time.  How much time do you spend at your day-job?  Depending on that, how long do you have to work towards your goals?  What are your priorities?  Schedule those out first.  You should try to account for everything you do on a daily basis.  As daunting as that may sound, it’s extremely helpful to understand how you spend your time.  What time do you wake up?  What do you do after that?  And after that?  Okay, don’t get too ridiculous by planning bathroom time or teeth brushing time.  But all things that take up an hour or more should be placed on your schedule.  And make sure to account for any drive time to and from places, meetings etc.  In Los Angeles, that’s always going to take up more time.  Here is an example of a day in the life of Kat Castaneda scheduled out:

8:00am – Wake up

8:30 – 11:00am – Workout, shower, change

11:45am – 2:45pm – Re-write episode 3 of Newlywed and Broke

3:30 – 5:30pm – Meet with John to discuss project

6:00 – 7:00pm – Work on edit for Project #2

8:00 – 10:00pm – Screenwriting Group

10:30 – 11:30pm – Kat time!

I always give buffers in between things just in case something runs over.  I also give more time than necessary because I try very hard not to over schedule.  If I get everything done early, it makes me feel good and I have the choice of either working on things I have schedule for the next day or having some extra “me” time.  Speaking of which, always schedule time for yourself once per week, ideally a whole day.  This allows you to recharge your batteries and not feel like your entire life is run over with work.  Our dreams and goals are just one aspect of what makes you, you.  Don’t forget that.  Your friends and family are just as important, so schedule time for them as well for an incredibly well-rounded, satisfying life!  Until next time…

Kat Castaneda

About Kat Castaneda

After four years of service in the Marine Corps, where she booked her first acting job in a commercial, Kat Castaneda moved to NYC in pursuit of an acting career. She booked a few roles, garnered her first lead in a feature, and obtained her SAG card before moving to Los Angeles. Since in LA, Kat has discovered her true calling in creating content. Her talents as a fiction writer helped her transition into screenwriting, having two works produced in two years. She has just completed her first feature script, which, thus far, garnered her a spot in HBO/Nalip’s Latino Writing Lab earlier this year. A true creative spirit, she also started directing, completing her first film, “Regret”, and writing and directing the Indiegogo video for the web series, “Newlywed and Broke” she is currently creating with her Fiance. Stay tuned for this up and coming Latina powerhouse!