Writing is a Real Job

6:50 AM Gemma Fitz 10 Comments

Sometimes I'm a little too practical.

I love writing, and I'd love nothing better than to make it my career and sit around doing nothing but writing all day (well, not nothing but). But, as I said, I'm very practical.

If we're honest, a writing career doesn't really guarantee a steady pay-check-- or even enough to live on. Of course, there's the occasional author who becomes super popular and makes millions off their books, but even for them, it's usually years after they first started writing. Until that point, there's just a lot of work and very little pay-back.

And I'm very practical. In a couple years, I'm going to start college (and though it feels far away, I know it really isn't). I won't be majoring in Creative Writing. Or English. Or English Education. Or any of the majors that are typically associated with writing. I'm actually planning on majoring in Office Administration. Which, as far as I know, is not writing related at all. (Though I may minor in Creative Writing, just for fun.)

After college I will probably try to get a job as a secretary or receptionist or something of that sort. I will probably not start writing novels in my mom's basement as my full-time job.

I'm just too practical. Writing is my passion, but it's not a good way to make money, unless you manage to get famous, and that will take some time. I think I'd enjoy Office Administration, and so I'm completely willing to make that my career unless something amazing happens and I start making millions from my best selling novels.

But not everyone's like me. Some people love this writing thing with passion even greater than mine (can you imagine?) and honestly could not see themselves doing anything else. Some people would rather do something they love and enjoy themselves than do something they hate, solely for filthy lucre. Some people have enough confidence in themselves and their work to believe that they can make a writing career work (and I got to say, self confidence is a great thing-- I wish I had more of it).

And all of this is totally okay. Writing is a real job.
Writing is hard work, and it doesn't bring in a lot of cash sometimes, but for many people writing is worth it. Writing is fulfilling, and rewarding even without the money. Writing is fun and we've all been told to get a job we love. Writing has the potential to change the world, the potential to make you famous, the potential to make a reader buy orange Fanta instead of Crush.

And if anyone is brave enough to take the risks, to become the "starving artist", to work his life away for no tangible reward, we should not be shaking our heads and prophesying doom. We should be applauding him.

Believe me, all us writers know how hard it is to make ends meet writing. We all know it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of time to get published. And we all know that strangers, friends, and even family are going to look down on us for our idealism and impracticality in pursuing a writing career. It takes an immense amount of courage and dedication to pursue one anyway, and anyone who has that courage and dedication deserves our support.

I'm sorry for all the bold text, but this is important. Don't look down at people who have "unrealistic expectations". Don't make fun of people who aren't afraid to dream. Don't ask people "when are you going to get a real job?"

They have. Their job is writing, and it's much harder than the safe, comfortable jobs that us "practical" people work.

And that is totally okay.

Do you plan to make writing your career? Do you think writing qualifies as a real job?

10 comments:

  1. I like what you're saying her. Because you're right so many people look down on the artist (writer or otherwise) for doing what they love for life. But if they love it that much and can do it, then why not? It is possible. It's just not easy and there's a lot of rough patches. I think those people should be respected. They are living a life of uncertainty. It's not easy to chose something like that. It's not stupid either. It's quite brave if you ask me.

    I recently went to a writers conference and one of the authors there was self published (or indie published which ever you wish to call it). Writing was her full time job. But because she was self published she could do that. She wrote constantly. She already had an audience who loved her books. She knew how to market her books to her audience. She knew people she could employ to do her cover art and edit her books. So it could be her full time job. She was always saying how it's her "bread and butter." Her workshop was probably the most insightful and helpful to me.

    I do plan to major in Creative Writing or English. I would love to be like a "super" writer like the indie author at the conference and just write. But I don't know if I can do that. We'll see. I do want to be an editor (preferably freelance, like an editor for other indie authors to come to, that would be so awesome!). For some reason I can't get away from it. Though sometimes it feels like I'm not good at anything else except writing, at least nothing practical. :P

    But I think that's cool that you want to do something else also. I've kind of debated about that a lot. Because as a writer I think I need to be experiencing things, life things, non-writing things. And since I'm such an introvert, I probably won't do that unless I'm "have to" (or have friends who will make me). Meaning if I had a job in which I had to interact with people, I would have to be doing something else. I don't want my "world" to get put into a funnel and for me to fall out of touch with people, I guess is what I'm saying. Having a "real" job is advantageous to writing also. Very much so.

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    1. It is totally possible to make writing into a paying career!! It's just hard, and kinda risky. And it really annoys me that the very same people who say "Work hard!" and "Take risks!" in other areas of life, point to the "aspiring" artists and say, "That's stupid." IT'S NOT STUPID. It's just brave. So thank you for backing me up here.

      Yay for you!!! And I've considered being an editor, too! I'm sure you'll do great, whatever route you choose, as long as you keep at it. :) And I often feel like writing is my only talent, as well-- and sometimes like I'm not even talented at writing! :P

      That is a really good point. Other more "conventional" occupations are super helpful for writers, because it helps them see more of "normal" life and how to portray it. There have been sooo many times when the part time job I'm holding right now inspired scenes or dialogue or themes for books and short stories I've written! So there are many reasons to hold another job besides writing, but it's not absolutely necessary.

      Thanks for the lovely long comment!!

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  2. I agree, writing is hard work with little actual payback. Very hard to make it into a career. I nanny for a struggling author who would love for her novel to take off amongst readers, but it just doesnt happen.
    My boyfriend also wanted to be a full time writer/reporter and it's just not something we feel he could support us on alone.
    But that doesn't stop them from writing! No! Its worth every tear-wrentching moment to them.

    I love your post!
    Happy Thursday!

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    1. It is very difficult, and very depressing when it seems like you're not getting anywhere. And then some people just have to prioritize other things above writing-- because of personality, temperament, circumstances, etc.

      But yes, it's still worth it! Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Writing is definitely hard work, but at the same time, I personally believe it counts as a job. In fact, that's what I hope to make my job. I think that anyone who truly loves writing knows that they're not going to make much money, and that's important to go into this career knowing. But I think that at the same time, I'd love for more people to recognise that writing is actually a career. Most of the people in my circles don't think it is. Sometimes I wish writing as a career would get more recognition and maybe that someone would invent a way to make it more practical, especially for fiction writers. Even musicians have positions where they're doing what they love and getting paid for it. Why can't we fiction writers have that too?

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    1. That is totally awesome, and I wish you much luck!! :) As I've said, writing is most definitely a career. It's insanely difficult, but I know how dedicated you are (and, judging simply by your blog, you seem really talented) and I'm sure you'll be able to make it work. Go show them all what you can do!

      It would be amazing if more lucrative opportunities started opening for writers-- and I have noticed that writing coaches have been growing in popularity recently. Who knows, maybe they'll become as common as piano teachers some day?

      Thanks for commenting!

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  4. YES this is an excellent post. I would actually like to major in something writing related, but I think in the future my main goal is going to be raising a family. I do love writing, very much actually, but it is definitely not my biggest priority. :P "...we should not be shaking our heads and prophesying doom."
    Haha, that was my favorite line. Also, I think office administration sounds great! I wish you the best of luck with that!
    Great post, Gemma!

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    1. I'm sure you'll do great with both writing and family raising. :D Yup, writing's not my biggest priority, either. Doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with it being someone else's, though!!

      Lol, glad you liked it! Thanks for your well wishes, and your comment. :)

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  5. AGREED. At the moment doors keep opening and I feel that God wants me to do /something/ writing-related, so I'm pursuing that at the moment and planning for a career that at least partway includes writing, so this was nice to see. It's totally a real job and I'm really lucky to have family and friends who recognize and support that because I know that's not the case for everyone.

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    1. I hope God will continue to open those doors for you, and wish you the best of luck in whatever writing related career you end up with! :) And it's so awesome that your friends and especially your family aw supportive of that-- I know so many people whose loved ones sadly just /aren't/.

      Thanks for commenting!!

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