I love to write. I LOVE writing. I spent 10 years working my way up to being able to write professionally, and technically, I succeeded. I’m very proud of that. I put a lot of effort into achieving that. I worked hard. I never gave up.
I love writing. Very much.
I do not love being a writer.
I do not love being a writer, because when I tell people I write for a living, this is what they think:
- I don’t really work – I sit around and make up stories all day. Or,
- My work isn’t very hard. Anyone could do it. Therefore, because I don’t have a real job, I’m lazy. Or,
- Clients assume I am willing to work for very little money, because I’m a writer – that’s what I do.
I write novels for fun. I am a professional content creator any other time I’m writing – which means a lot of things, which is why I don’t like to use this term, but basically, I don’t get to make up stories and get paid for writing them. I write articles and blog posts for about 60 percent of my clients, which in my line of expertise, means a lot of researching and hours upon hours of work just for one product.
And if anyone thinks this is an easy thing to do – I want to ask them to try it for a week. Because no, not everyone can do this. I learned this working as a managing editor for a magazine. People would come in thinking it would be easy – and many of them quit, because it was not easy. Writing is hard. Really.
But what frustrates me the most is how undervalued my – our – work is.
Do they know how many years I went to school so I could have the credentials to do this?
Do they understand that I worked free for three years to build up enough experience to even qualify for writing jobs when I graduated?
Do they care that I have valuable skills – the ability to communicate information clearly in writing – though I may not be the best of the best, that I’m still good at what I do – because I put in the work to get here?
This is not any one person’s fault. Most people don’t know better. They don’t understand that writing is a very draining task.
But shouldn’t they?
I realize that I’m at an advantage, compared to a lot of people trying to write for a living. I do. I am a native English speaker, I live in the US, I was able to afford to pay for and follow through with both a college and graduate school education. But here’s the thing – if a writer is a good writer, if they do their job well, if they consistently impress, if they’re easy to work with – they deserve respect.
It doesn’t matter where they’re from or how educated they are. If they’re good, they’ve earned the right to be treated as such – however they got to that point of “being good” doesn’t matter (as long as it’s legal, right?).
So I can’t speak for everyone – for anyone but myself, I guess. I’m not frustrated about money as much as I am frustrated by a lack of respect for my profession. For me, it’s a matter of my niche (health writing – not the niche this blog is in) being filled with unqualified bloggers who make false claims, only want to sell products and call themselves “experts” when they’re not.
So what does it mean for you, and your niche? Because there are a lot of people out there writing about a lot of different things.
I’m sure self-publishers get a bad rap because literally anyone can “publish” anything they want to. I’ve only published an ebook and a handful of novellas, so I can’t say from experience.
I hate this. I hate how being called a writer comes with such negative perceptions. On my social profiles, I have to call myself a writer, because I want to network, and you know, keywords. But if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t even touch that word. I am a writer, but I’m also a hard-working professional with a creative brain and passion for health and nutrition. I create lots of things. One of them just happens to be writing. The value I offer is so much more than throwing together 500 words for $20.
This is a freelance writing problem. I realize that. There are companies out there who hire full-time writers and pay them well to do their jobs, because they can afford to. I hope to be one of those writers someday. But for now, I vent my frustrations – and hope to one day be a part of the movement that wants to create a network that values writers for what they do and who they are and how hard they have worked, and makes sure they get good work, and get paid for it.
Thank you for letting me be frustrated, on a Friday afternoon after trying to do taxes as an independent contractor, which is literally hell on earth. Insert “get out while you still can” joke here. I should probably delete that sentence. Nah.
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.