The longer I worked as a content writer for my clients, the more they started asking me to play the role of a copywriter. We’re talking marketing emails, sales pages. All the good stuff.
The thing about freelance writing is, once you have a contract lined up, within that contract, you go where you are needed. Because someone is already willing to pay you to write. So you do it all, even when it’s not technically what you initially signed up for.
I knew a week into my first marketing course in college that I never wanted to go into marketing. There’s just something about using my writing skills to sell products and services that makes me feel itchy. I have nothing against marketers or the marketing industry in general. I just pass up every job application with marketing in the title, because though I am technically trained to do it, I don’t wanna.
Yet I’m writing marketing copy more right now than I ever wanted to – because, you know, student loans. Every time I sit down to write another marketing email, I think, “This is not fun. I know I have to do this, and I’m going to do this to the best of my ability, but I just can’t find any joy in this process.”
That’s why we call this work. Because honestly, to think you’re going to make a living as a writer without doing some things you’re not 100 percent in favor of is a little silly.
We talk a lot on this blog about making writing fun. About writing what you want to write. About finding joy in the work that you do. That’s all valid. I’m a firm believer that we shouldn’t mope around whining about not wanting to write.
But the reality is, sometimes, writing is a chore. You have to write a query letter, a book proposal, a pitch email. A cover letter, a three sentence autobiography, a tagline for selling this thing you wrote or promoting your Patreon page (cringe).
You have to write things you do not want to write, sometimes. Because of money, because you know you can do it better than someone else could – because you can’t wait on it to get done; you have to take charge.
This makes balancing the writing you have to do and the writing you want to do so much more difficult – but extremely more important. If I spent all day writing sales emails and didn’t get to turn around and write these blog posts, I’d be miserable. You need to kinds of writing in your life – fun writing, and the writing you have to do to pay the government back for all those marketing classes you took that actually ended up paying off four years later (ha!).
For me, right now, fun writing consists of this blog and very slow progress on one of the two novels I’m trying to finish writing this year. For you, it might be a random poem here and there. Finally starting that novel you’ve been putting off, even if you can only work on a few hundred words at a time. Secretly working on that pilot for that TV show idea you had last year.
It doesn’t matter what. As long as you know that it’s not always going to be fun. Sometimes a website needs your help. A company blog needs your voice. Someone needs a grant so they can have money to do this awesome thing. It’s not always ideal. But the world needs good writers. One characteristic of a good writer is a willingness to dedicate their craft to more than one thing at once. It only takes time away from your personal projects when you let it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.