Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Writing, Writer & The Writer's Life

I've done a lot of articles for this blog and offered a lot of links to helpful writing sites. for the new and aspiring as well as the established writer.

Today I think I'm going to kick back and just discuss some of the less 'nuts and bolts' of writing and talk a little about what it's like to be a writer.

Of course there's a lot of writing out there and a lot depends on what kind of writing you do.  I lean to advice for the fiction writer mostly as I am mostly a fiction writer. But, I recently participated in a conversation where one faction was telling a writer that she could consider her writing only a hobby and not to think about trying to make a living from it.  Now, I suspect they were thinking of and talking about writing fiction and I can see the thought process in that direction. However if we don't pursue our dreams, life can seem a dull place.

So, I say, if writing fiction is what you want to do, what you passionately love doing - then go for it.

Will you have to have other jobs to support you along the way?  Probably; almost assuredly.

Will it be hard work?  You better believe it.

Will you have to dedicated part of your precious writing time to promoting the book once it's published?  No doubt about it.

Is it worth it?  That depends on how much you passionately want it.

It is a jungle out there for the fiction writer, no doubt about it. 

However, you can also hone your skills at writing and earn money doing  types of writing in addition to your fiction.  You can prepare yourself for technical writing, journalism, grant writing, writing for newsletters, magazines, online, copywriting and more. If you stop to think, there isn't hardly an area in every day life that doesn't involve writing.

*Who wrote the script for the TV commercial?
*Who wrote the text for the promotional letter you got in today's mail?
*Who wrote the detailed instruction manual that comes with the new item you bought?
*Who wrote the articles for the magazine you read  (and all the hundreds of them you may not read?
*Who wrote the material that got the local college, foundation or non-profit their grant?
*Who came up with the cute text in the greeting card?
*Who writes the many non-fiction books out there?

Well, you get it.  It goes on and on.  I left out writing scripts for movies and TV because those are very tough markets to break into as well though of course if it's your passion, reach for it.

It's never been easy for the fiction writer. 

There are a  handful who do very, very well, who could finance a small country with their earnings.

Then there are many who vary from 'get along' to 'pleasant income' and that's not a bad place to be. 

Then, unfortunately there is a whole pool of 'never make it' who write, maybe publish, maybe even self-publish and promote, but just never get off the ground. Maybe it's not even because they're not talented and skilled, but rather for some reason what they write just doesn't seem to strike a chord. For whatever reason there's no 'lift-off'.

For them, perhaps it does become only a hobby, something they share with friends and relatives. Perhaps they resign themselves to just putting it out there for others to enjoy and not making any money from it.  Unfortunately that last one is a double-edged sword.  I'm not saying you shouldn't do that if that's what you want. But, the more folks who treat their fiction writing as a hobby and put it out there free, the harder it is for writers attempting to make it their profession as it drives down the value of their writing.

And if you become one of the 'rocketing' writers, great, you won't have a whole lot to worry about.

However, if you're in that middle pool there are things you need to consider.

Where are you going to get health insurance? There are some writer's organizations who offer it at reduced rates once you're published and of course there's the possibility of a life-partner who works a 'day job' and carries the insurance for you both. Sadly, even a minor illness can mean bankruptcy in this country. That's where we are.

What if you have a dry spell?  There's no 'unemployment' for a fiction writer who's between books or royalty checks or who just can't get that new idea finished.

Can you put money back against a possible rainy day? For example, what if there's a family emergency and you become a temporary care-giver and can't write at all for six months or a year?

And what about vacations? Can you take time out of your writing to just relax? When you're a freelance writer, not writing means a gap of no pay.  You're self-employed so you need to plan for these things.

But what most self employed people who run a business such as a small store or service provided don't have to think about is the freelance writer is dependent entirely upon his or her own brain and ideas to make a living.

If there is discord in life, if there is tragedy or just a bump in the road, the average self-employed person with that small shop can still show up and go through the motions, selling things or whatever is needed.  It's a show up, do work kind of thing and while it may take some creativity, in most situations there's a bit of 'float' time before a crash might be imminent.

As a freelance writer, a disaster could well be more wide-spread in the ripples it causes as the writer's brain could well go into melt-down dealing with a huge emotional wrench. That means no writing and no writing means no income - maybe further down the line, but it will be felt.

A lot of the reasons above are why many writers keep day jobs, whether part or full time, long after they publish and sometimes for the life of their writing careers. It's something to consider.

Of course a lot of the above can be off-set by that gushing fan letter the writer receives or the really nice royalty check that shows up at the end of a reporting period.

There's a lot to think about in being a freelance writer of any type. Or, sometimes, nothing to think about because it's your passion and you're determined to write and work out the details as you go along.
Did I give you something to think about?  I hope so. Feel free to post your thoughts below. 


  1. Great information and things to consider, Peggy.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thanks M Pax, I really enjoy doing it.

    You as well Ken. Glad you like it


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