I’m late this morning. There is no excuse, but I was enjoying a bit of a sleep in and goof off morning. I’m normally at my desk by 6:00 am at the latest. There is so much to do and I love my work! Writing is my work. How wonderful to be able to do what you want and make a living at it as well.
Wait a minute. Hang on. Did I say “do what you want?” That’s a bit of a stretch. As a professional writer, yes I love my work. But I’m not sure I always get to “do what I want” in the process.
Each day, I have to get up same as everyone else, and while I can dress so business-casually you wouldn’t be able to detect the least bit of business in my wardrobe, I still have to get up and get to the phone, the keyboard, and the research. I sit in meetings and I worry and work. Yes. Real work. Even though a lot of this work is writing, sometimes I have to “get inspired” even when there doesn’t seem anything new to get inspired over. That’s what being a pro is all about.
I currently write for four blogs with another one on the way. I also ghost-write articles for a different client, as well as working on my fiction writing. Sometimes I can play with Daisy and her friends, but mostly I work on telling people about dentistry or decks, cold calling or coyotes. These are great topics. Don’t let me lead you to believe I don’t like learning about these industries and writing about my experiences with them. But please don’t think writing is “so easy” that “anyone can do it.”
The point to all of this is that while I love my work, it is still that. The challenge is that everyone thinks they can write. Everyone has a good story to tell. Everyone has engaged in the fine art of persuasive speaking. So, many people don’t think paying someone well to write is silly.
But writing takes organization both in thinking and in production. Recently I reset my schedule to accommodate another client. This means adding research time and interview time and writing time. There is no time for “creative daydreaming” or “sitting at your favorite cafe and soak in the atmosphere.” Those images belong in movies, which are mostly fiction, right?
And writing takes multiple focuses. If I write a press release, it is going to be worded a lot differently from a blog post. A brochure needs to be persuasive, while a story needs to engage emotions in a different way. Third person text is harder to sound engaging than first person, but third person is often used in business writing.
Now, we’ve all heard of the authors who make kazillions of dollars with their novels. James Patterson, Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling to name a few. And celebrity authors are bound to add to their incredible riches because by being a celebrity they must have something important going on and worth reading about, right?
But I have found that celebrity authors are a few and far between as the people in weight-loss ads that claim “I lost 300 pounds in 30 days!” Someone may have done it, but most of us struggle to lose 1 pound in the same amount of time. Here’s the scoop: I do what I love and I make a living, but fame and fortune are still far away.
I write because in my heart I will always be an artist of sorts; someone with a creative bent so strong that people are only being polite when they say “creative.” Mostly, I’m just weird and people are too nice to say otherwise. The challenge is that artists, almost by definition, are “starving.” They don’t tend to quit their day jobs, with good reason.
I received my first royalty check a few days ago. “Impressive” isn’t exactly the word to use in describing the figures. I read the statement and saw that Faith on the Rocks didn’t exactly shoot to stardom in book sales. And on the tail of that piece of news, I found out that I didn’t make the finals in a writing competition I’d entered. Sigh.
And that’s just it. A small sigh is all I’m going to allow myself. I’m a pro, and even Tiger Woods loses a golf game here and there. Then I’m going to remind ol’ Liesa-the-Creative, that work life is full of ups and downs. I need to make more of an effort to do my work better, stronger, faster, just like anyone else in business.
Thing is, writing sounds romantic. Wait around for the Muse to pay a social visit. Jot a little something on paper or computer screen, submit to editors and agents who will be thrilled to have your work because they are not inundated with 300 more pieces just like yours each week. Then, let the money roll in. Okay, now we’re talking real fiction, aren’t we?
Here’s what a real pro does:
- Write! Every day. For hours on end.
- Keep an idea file so that down times don’t find you with the dreaded “writer’s block”
- Remind yourself you’re a pro and keep writing even when you don’t think there’s anything left to write about
- Thank your lucky stars that you’re working in a profession of your choosing, and that there are plenty of others willing and able to take your place if you decide to quit
- Enjoy your writing life – the lack of dress code, the hours you set yourself, the thrill of seeing your work in print or on a blog, finding out new things in industries you never imagined yourself visiting, making friendships without the narrowness of being stuck in one industry
- Understand that writing is work and you need to keep moving ahead or fall behind.
I think writers really are the same as everyone else. We may have a different vision, and certain joi de vivre with our word play, but the business of writing is to write, to make a client satisfied and to write some more.
The dream still awaits.