As someone who writes and defines themselves as a “writer,” I see a lot of my writing as a job. And I get paid to write blog posts, news articles, and to do copy writing. But what about this novel I’ve spent the last eight months trying to write, or other personal writing projects. Are they part of my “job?”
I’ve read a lot of blogs and twitter posts that if you want to “make it” as a novelist, you must treat it like a job. Set hours that you are going to write, dress up for the occasion in a pencil skirt and blouse, sit at a desk, etc. And I can agree that these things make you feel official and that they will lead, potentially, to some productivity.
But then I think of an Elizabeth Gilbert anecdote about the poet who would be outside, and would hear a poem coming for miles, and she would have to run, faster and faster to her desk to be able to sit down and work on this poem and jot it down as it flowed through her body and if she wasn’t at the right place at the right time then it would float on by, on to the next writer who was ready for it.
Writing is a job for me. It is a “freelance, sit down, have a deadline” job. It is studying mannerisms of speech and googling facts and doing research and it is sometimes hard. Far harder than I ever wanted it to be.
It’s about getting up before work starts for the day to look up newspaper articles that just broke. It’s about sending countless pitch emails to publications to compile a list of rejections. It’s about first time luck prevailing and second guessing and hoping and praying and failing.
Is writing my job? Yes. It’s one of many things I do. My novel, however unattended to, is my job. It is to be worked on and teased out and toiled over and written. And I treat it, now and forever, like a job.
I’ve been writing semi consistently since I was 16. There isn’t lots of my work out there for the world to see, but it’s there in the corners of the internet I’ve been playing in for years. I’ve written plays and blog posts and articles and short stories. And a lot of it, so much of it is fun.
But it’s also work.
Tell me about your relationship to writing in a comment below. Is it a job, or a hobby to you?