Even as an adult, I have never once allowed myself to believe that it was impossible to find a job that I loved.
There will always be jobs we despise. It’s a rite of passage, almost. I worked in data entry for four months last year. It was boring. But I always found little things about that job that made me happy: free bagels every Friday, the occasional nice email response after updating a restaurant owner’s menu, my own desk. The best part about that job was that once I left, there was no more work to be done. I could go home and do whatever I wanted. And many evenings, I chose to spend my free time writing.
I have always believed that one day, writing could be my job.
I have always known there are many, many people out there who do not believe this. But I, wrongfully apparently, assumed that those who did not believe writing could be a real career were not writers. I never thought I would come across a writer who actively protested the idea that writing could ever be anything other than something people do in their free time. Until I did.
There is my stance on the matter, that if you find the right niche, you can write, make money and overall enjoy what you do for a living.
There is also a stance, I found out recently, that writing should never be for monetary gain. That it is a hobby and not a career. That as soon as you start to make money off of the things you write, it becomes all business, and loses the sparkle and shine it had when you were doing it for free. You feel pressured to write, so you do not want to do it anymore.
Six months ago I would have not been able to give a professional response to an argument like this. In some ways, it makes sense. But as someone who spent many years writing for no compensation at all, and is now slowly making the transition into making money doing something I am good at, I have to say that, from my perspective, this viewpoint makes no sense.
Not only is it unnecessarily discouraging to someone who wants to earn money writing, but it also assumes that writing as a job is miserable and pointless … which is far from the truth (opinion). Are there days I do not want to write about dating and productivity experts? Absolutely. But there are also days, for another client, I get to write about my ultimate passion – health – and I feel on top of the world.
What troubles me about the writers out there who take the latter stance is that I don’t think they have ever gotten past the hard part. I worry that they have given up, and now believe writing can never be a true profession – for them, and for those they share their belief with. Perhaps what they do not realize is that there are stages involved in transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing as a career.
At first, you struggle to find work. Any work. This is usually after you spend a whole bunch of time ‘writing for exposure.’
Then, once you find work, you go through a very anxious period of time in which you realize this whole writing as a job thing is not what you expected it would be.
Then you get into a rhythm. And it gets easier.
Eventually you have enough experience to land a job writing in a setting or about a subject you are truly passionate about. And all that struggling becomes worth it.
If you’re out there, and you love to write, I’m so glad you are here. But I want you to know that it does not matter whether you are writing just for fun or want to look into making money doing what you feel you are good at. If you enjoy writing, you have every right to continue to do it in any format you choose.
But don’t ever let yourself believe it can never be a career for you. Keep going. Even when it gets hard, just keep going. If that is what you want, and you are willing to work hard, you will be rewarded in time.
And if you’re out there, and you are a writer, and you are even thinking about telling a fellow writer they cannot pursue a dream they have, don’t you dare. I am disappointed and saddened by that kind of behavior in the writing community. You are entitled to your opinion. But in this case, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep your opinion to yourself.
I cannot tell you that you are wrong or that you cannot believe what you believe just because I disagree: that would be unfair. But it is NOT okay to tear another writer down. You are no better than anyone else just because you consider writing a hobby. We ALL consider writing a hobby. Some of us just happen to get a paycheck for our hobbies. That is our decision. Please, respect that, the way we respect your decision to write for free.
In a nutshell, do what makes you happy. Write because it is a part of you. Dare to dream and work as hard as you are able. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t be what you want to be.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Flickr.