Going Postal: Why Delivering Mail Is Like Writing A Novel

Jul 18, 2018Books, Complicated Blue, Inspiration, Writing

Several months ago I took a part-time job to supplement my author activities.

I am at the relative beginning of my publishing career and have not yet generated a stable income. Therefore, I became a postman.

Apart from the financial aspect, it has also has proven to have some other surprising benefits.

Boyhood Dreams

In some way I suppose a boyhood dream came true.

I remember as a child thinking about what I would like to do when I grew up. Bus driver was high on the list.

I can only assume this was because I loved to travel. Growing up in outback Australia, catching the overnight bus was about the only way to get around if you did not have a car. My young mind decided that being the driver of one of those busses would be the ideal career. I could travel and get paid for it. It seemed a win-win situation.

I have since adjusted my belief in the benefits of this career.

Another job which held some interest was as a postman.


I can’t say why this is.

The idea came perhaps because, before I started to go to school at the age of five, I was home with my mother. I recall a daily ritual of being sent out to get the mail.

We would hear the postman coming down the street on his motorbike. I would run to the letter box. It was exciting. 

What mysteries would arrive in the post today?

This, of course, was in the time when receiving a physical letter was one of the most important forms of communication. The art of letter-writing has somehow been lost. Most of the mail delivered now is advertising or bills.

However, I have had the honour of delivering a message in a bottle, though. So, there is still hope of magic arriving through the postal system.

Here’s a picture, if you don’t believe me:

Artist out of Prison

The choice to actually become a postman was less glamorous.

Building up a successful business as an author entrepreneur takes time. More time than I first envisaged.

I needed to earn a basic wage and it was one of the easiest jobs to get at short notice. Delivering mail gives me plenty of exercise and also allows me to maintain my daily writing routine.

So what are the other benefits?


Recently I have been struggling to complete my next novel. A thought struck me as I was delivering the mail which helped me adjust my mindset.

Writing a book is almost like delivering mail. Except in opposite.

You start with kilos of letters. It weighs a ton. You think: how am I ever going to get through this? But you do.

One letter at a time.

As long as you stick at it, it takes surprisingly very little time to complete. A mailbag weighing 20kgs takes about an hour. 


Sometimes I look down the street to get a perspective of how far I have to go. Usually, it’s head down reading numbers and putting everything in its slot. However, occasionally setting my sights on the end of the street makes me realise how far I’ve come. And how little distance I still have to cover.

It helped me put my writing into perspective

If you are diligent with your writing you can churn out 1000 words in an hour. If you do that every day, you will have written a decent sized novel in 2 months. Then the following trial begins. The process of editing.

Again, like delivering mail one letter a time, you work through your novel one scene at a time. Until you’re finished.

In the course of writing my latest novel, the next book in the Good Witch series, I hit many obstacles. The biggest was losing the love for the story because of the the time it was taking to edit. Some scenes were written 18 months ago. That’s a long time to be busy with a task.

Yet every time I went back to the beginning I found the joy of the story again. 

Above all, I can reassure myself, just like emptying the mailbags, if I stick at it the novel will complete itself. I will reach the end of the street.


Have you found a new way to help you complete your novel or other artistic endeavour?

Leave a comment below or join the mailing list and let me know.

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