Written by A Guest Author September 29th, 2016

Writing Is My Job.

Written by Jen Jones

Every writer, at some point in their career, has heard the words, “Writing isn’t a real job.”  Only another writer can truly understand the frustration of hearing those words and being made to feel as if your dream is only a waste of time.  It can be even worse if someone suggests that it is time to stop playing around on the computer and find something meaningful to do.

For those of you who have actually considered whether you have the talent to keep writing as your job, this Stephen King quote is for you – “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”  True, most of us will never be as famous as Mr. King, but we can follow his lead and never give up on writing.

To people who have to get up early, commute to work and drag themselves home every day, writing probably doesn’t seem like anything but fun.  After all, we can work in our pajamas and slippers and never leave the house in rain or snow.  But, what people don’t understand is that writing is a never-ending job.  We don’t clock out at 5 and not think about our job until the next day.

As writers, every conversation, every stranger, every commercial on TV might bring your next story idea.  It is like being on call all day, every day.  How many times have you overheard a piece of a conversation and your mind raced with a story that just had to be written down right now?  Do you try to sleep at night with your characters dancing in your head and wonder where they will go tomorrow?  Writing does keep us up at night, just like other people worrying about their jobs.

Whether you write a blog, novels or copy for advertising, you are always looking for the next job.  You are always looking for new places to submit your work and rejections are always taken personally, at least a little.  Writing is your passion and when someone says they don’t like what you wrote, it’s hard to remember that it isn’t personal – it’s a business decision for a very real job.

When you make writing your job, you need to set ground rules right away.  This may seem overly dramatic, but it’s easier to set rules to follow then break bad habits later.  Choose your best time of day to work.  For some, it’s first thing in the morning, for others, it’s late at night.  Only you know when your creative juices flow the best.

Once you decide, let everyone know.  Text friends and family and tell them what hours you will be working.  Let everyone know you will not be reading emails or texts during that period and all phones call will go to voice mail.  You can follow up with everyone during your lunch break.  But, in order for this to work, you must follow your rule!

Don’t pick up the phone to check your messages when you are fighting writer’s block.  Get up and walk around, grab a snack and go back to work.  If you answer a message one time, you will no longer be taken seriously about working during those hours.  For anyone else to believe you are working, you have to believe it yourself!

If someone drops by for a visit, politely tell them that, as much as you would love to catch up, now is not a good time and that you will call them later.  If your visitor won’t leave because you “aren’t really working”, repeat that you are busy.  If you know when your visitor will be working, tell him/her that you would love to catch up and how if you can drop by their workplace during that time.  Most will say that they can’t be interrupted at work.  Look them right in the eye and say you feel the same.

People who truly care about you will get the hint and be more careful about dropping by.  For others, you don’t need to worry about politeness as much.  Your job is important and you have as many deadlines as anyone who goes to an office every day. You have to stick to your rules.

Sometimes, it is the people you live with that have the hardest time understanding when you are working.  You simply cannot explain to small children that you are working.  Even older kids and teens that understand you are busy may think it is okay to interrupt any time they want.  You may need to adjust your working hours to when they are in school.  After all, more than likely, one of the biggest reasons you chose to write from home is to be available for your children.  You may have to be blunt with your spouse and tell them you are working.  Hopefully, they will be supportive.

Sooner or later, someone will ask you to do a favor “since you aren’t working.”  Whether you choose to take the day off and help is up to you.  Just remember, you are setting a precedent that you are willing to not work and run an errand for someone else.  If you do decide to help, make sure you point out that you are “taking the day off” to help and are not just blowing off work because you can.  After all, you can’t skip work and still get paid at a real job!

Another way to show that you have a real job is to have business cards printed and give them out everywhere.  Ask your family and friends to help you build your client list.  For some reason, if a person sees a business card, they are more likely to think of you as a “working” person, instead of someone who does nothing all day.  Make sure your business hours are printed on the cards to remind everyone when you are busy.

The reality is, to show others that writing is a real job you need to believe it, too.  If you have a hard time “going to work” during your set hours, make yourself get dressed, just like you were leaving the house.  Go into your office and leave your distractions somewhere else.  If you are having trouble writing, spend your time reading newsletters about writing or looking for possible places to submit your work.  There is a lot more to working as a writer than simply writing and there is always something that needs to be done.

What others think about your job doesn’t matter.  It is what you believe that is important.  Writing is a real job, with real stress at times and not always a lot of benefits, such as insurance and vacation pay.  Our love of words and sharing our stories with others is the biggest benefit of it.  Being able to wear PJ pants and a sweatshirt to work is just the icing on the cake.

Jen Jones is a freelance writer, a preschool teacher and the proud mom of three children. She is also a strong advocate for understanding and acceptance for people with autism.


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