Is being a writer a job? It’s work. If you’re on the staff of a newspaper, magazine, or other publication, if you write press releases, instruction manuals or annual reports and you have to report in every day at a specific time, if you use your employers’ equipment to carry out the assignments they give you, and if they give you a W2 form for your taxes at the end of the year, you definitely have a job. With luck, your family and the IRS see you as gainfully employed.
Maybe you have a completely different kind of job that supports your writing. Most writers do.
But what if you’re a writer working at home, setting your own hours, using your own equipment, choosing your own assignments, and your earnings are sporadic? Do you still have a job?
This is one of the dilemmas of being a self-employed writer. People don’t see you as working if you’re writing poetry or essays in your pajamas. They feel free to call you on the phone or drop by or schedule you for activities during your prime writing time because oh, she’s just writing. Sound familiar?
It has taken me years to establish my morning writing time as sacred. Most of my friends and family now understand that I cannot chat, go shopping, attend a meeting or anything else before approximately 1 p.m. because I’m working. They expect a surly response if they interrupt my writing. When the receptionist at the dentist’s office says, “Can you come in at 10:00?” I say, No, it needs to be in the afternoon.” Of course, if I just broke a tooth, I will make an exception, but for an ordinary cleaning and checkup, I stick to my schedule. It is not easy to claim this time. I have to tell people I’m working and then I have to actually use the time to work, even when I don’t have editors waiting for me and I’d much rather do anything but string words together.
Is writing a job? Yes. If you are hoping to earn money at it, it’s a business, and you are the sole employee, as well as the CEO, vice president, secretary, tech support, and janitor. If you really want to be a writer, claim your time and respect. Feel free to tell people, “I’m going to work now, and if I’m late, my boss will really be mad.”
Do you consider your writing a job? How do you claim your writing time? Let us know in the comments.
But right now, get to work. Go write.