How Do You Explain to People What You Do for a Living?

I’m a writer, dang it!

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There’s a reason I’ve stopped calling myself “a writer,” and it’s because 80 percent of the people I know still have no idea what I do.

Because I don’t sit around all day writing books. I chip away at unfinished novels, but that’s about it.

I don’t just write occasional articles. That is literally what I get paid to do, soon to be daily.

But I also have one blog (soon to be two) which I update daily and plan to expand with courses and a mentorship program.

Sometimes I write scripts and record videos and podcasts.

My clients occasionally ask me to write marketing emails, social media posts, etc.

I do a little bit of everything – because that’s pretty much what you have to do, now that everyone on the internet is trying to do the same things you are, but better.

Being well-rounded as a creator is extremely important. But it also makes it that much harder for people who don’t do what you do to understand what the heck you’re doing with your life.

I’ve resorted to telling people I write for online magazines, because that’s the easiest way to explain the confusing landscape that is “lifestyle websites.”

I do blog, but not all that successfully at the moment, so calling myself a blogger seems dishonest, in a way.

I don’t know. How do YOU explain what you do to the clueless?

There’s also the negative assumptions that come along with saying you’re a writer – that doesn’t help much, either. Because when you say, “Oh, I write for a living,” a lot of people automatically assume you freelance – and in the can’t-get-any-other-writing-job, making-pennies-per-hour kind of way. At least that’s what happened to me when I signed on with my first client.

I hate that. I hate people thinking I’m lazy, whether I know them well or not. This stuff isn’t easy. People you’re writing for demand a lot from you and don’t really pay you much for it – that’s not criticism, that’s just the reality of the business. Good writers are in high demand, but writing doesn’t really make businesses money – selling stuff does. Hmph.

It’s even harder to explain that I am what I prefer to call myself, an internet creator – I make things on the internet, sometimes I get paid for them, sometimes I do them for free (or at least pennies in monthly AdSense revenue). That’s what I’m always going to do, whether it’s only my words people see on a screen or my voice through speakers or both my face and voice simultaneously.

But I do not get up in the morning, write one article or blog post and then spend the rest of the day browsing Netflx. This is a real job, these are important hobbies, and if more people understood that, I don’t know, maybe we’d all stress a little less about those “so what are you up to these days” questions at family gatherings. The same thing. Really. I’m still writing. It’s what I do. It’s what I will continue to do for a very long time.


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.

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