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.
I’m having one of those days when I don’t want to write. In fact, I don’t want to do anything. I’m leaving on a trip in a couple days, I’ve got someone coming over later today, and I’m worn out from Fourth of July, so I just want to bag the whole business. Why not, you might ask. Lots of folks are taking a long holiday weekend. Good question.
There’s always a good excuse for not doing it. So what are the reasons TO do it? Take a moment here to think about your reasons or try to guess mine.
Got something in mind? Good.
Here are my top five:
Momentum: If I stop in the middle of a project, it’s going to be hard to get my head back into it when I return to it. And I might be tempted to stop altogether. I’m also a musician, and I know that when I’m trying to learn a song, if I don’t keep coming back to it, I never really learn it. Same thing with writing.
Keeping my writing muscles in shape: If I don’t keep to my writing schedule, I get rusty. It gets harder. I don’t like that.
Time: I’m old enough to order off the senior menus, and I’m all too aware that people my age—or any age—can suddenly die or become too sick or disabled to work. If/when that happens, I want to have written everything I possibly can.
Money: I want to publish as much as possible and keep as much money coming in as possible. Self-employed writers do not get sick leave, vacation time, or days off for not being in the mood.
Readers: I have at least a few people who look forward to my next book, article, poem or post. If I don’t keep at it, they’ll lose faith in me and find another writer to read.
So there you have it. I have now written two blog posts and plan to get back to my novel. What are you going to write? What are the reasons that keep you going? Please share.
P.S. Starting Sunday, I’m going to have limited Internet access for about a week. Please forgive me if I’m slow approving comments or putting up new posts. I’ll be back.
Now go write.