Is Writing a Real Job? by Lauralynn Elliott

This post is geared, not necessarily toward your progress in ROW80, but more toward what happens next. But, at the same time, the subject of the post could determine whether you decide to stick to your goals or give up. It has a lot to do about our attitude toward what we’re doing, but, in many cases, we let the attitude of others play way too large a part in what we do about those goals. I’ll start with a conversation I had with my husband.

 Me:  I need to go work on my book.

Hubby makes some smart remark, I can’t remember exactly what.

Me:  This is a part time job just like if I was working for someone else.

Hubby:  No, it’s not. It’s a hobby.

Me: What do you mean, it’s a hobby? It’s a job!

Hubby:  A job is where you go somewhere to work and come home. Writing is just a hobby.

Me:  You spend money on hobbies. You make money on a job. What about that new patio set? What about the new BBQ grill? What about the new shelving unit? What about the vacation I’m taking where I don’t have to use any money from our full time jobs?

And it goes on and on. The bottom line is that most people won’t see our writing as a real job. If we have to leave a friend’s house early because we need to write, they just don’t understand why. They don’t get the fact that it’s a job and we need to work. This whole attitude makes me furious sometimes. Why is someone else’s job more important just because they are working for someone else? In fact, I feel like my job is MORE important because it’s MY business and I’m working for myself.

So, you are going to run into people who will never take you seriously. I’ve made over $13,000 from my writing so far, and my husband still doesn’t get it. There may be some of you who are doing this whole writing thing just for the fun of it. But I bet most of you are doing it because you want to write for a living. Am I right? My point is, don’t let these people discourage you and make you want to give up. Just like with other things (like weight loss), the people you love the most can be the very ones who sabotage your efforts.

I think the best way to keep from being discouraged by unsupportive people is to make sure YOU think of it as a real job.  Set times aside for your writing. When speaking to others about your writing, treat it as a job. Be firm about that. If you are already published, keep good sales records. Keep up with your expenses. Do everything that you would do if you were running your own business in another field. If you were running a retail store, you wouldn’t just throw money around willy, nilly and work only when you “felt like it”. You wouldn’t let other people tell you that it wasn’t a real job. You would WORK.

Many of you are just starting this writing journey, and are new to all of this. Some of you will publish traditionally, many more of you will self publish. If you take it seriously and treat it like a business, it will help others take it more seriously. You will have some who will never understand, but no one will understand if you don’t. Writing is a real job. It may be one that you love, but no one ever said you couldn’t love your job. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s not real work. I’ve never worked so hard in my life!

~*~

Lauralynn Elliott

41 comments

  1. I’m trying to work out a new schedule now to fit writing back into my life. I wish I could have it as a full time job or even a part time one. I’m working toward it but there are other things taking precedence. That is just amazing and inspiring that you’ve made that much money from something you love.

  2. I write full-time (which isn’t exactly full time since the kid stays with me in the morning, I have pilates classes 2 afternoon each week, and you always find something to do or fix when you stay at home for so long).
    For now my husband is supportive. It was his idea that I quit my job and tried writing for real. But it has a deadline. If I don’t get an agent, find a small e-publisher or self-publish by the end of 2012, he wants me to go back to a day job … I could start self-publishing right now, because I have 3 or 4 manuscripts ready, and 3 others on the oven, almost ready, and many, many ideas … However, I want to try the trad path first.
    However, I don’t like the look people give me when I tell them I’m a writer (I only tell when asked) … sometimes I wonder if I should hide it … but I know I shouldn’t. I should be proud of it. And I am.
    Like you said Kait, it’s real hard work!

    1. Blogjacking here to say that I’m in the same boat that you’re in Juliana – supportive husband but a ticking clock on decent income coming through the door. Also trying the traditional route. Best wishes!

      1. “Blogjacking” is a new term to me, Julie. Thanks for posting it (from another person in the same boat as you and Julianna.)

        And for you, Lauralynn…. I saw the lower note that says you like your full time job, so I’m glad you have that outlet as well, but it’s sad when you have to deal with people mis-/pre-conceptions. Not to jack the thread, but I remember when my grandfather told us the tale of how he was told he was not a real farmer because he worked at the steel mill full time and farmed under 100 acres (vegetable farming plus retail sales on the markets). “Real” or not, the effort is real effort, the money allowed him to retire early and allowed his pension to stay untouched and build value instead of being depleted… It was real, hard labor. And it didn’t deserve to be treated as “not real work” anymore than the effort you put into you writing does.

    2. It’s definitely hard work in many ways. This whole post was inspired by the conversation I had with my husband. It’s really great that your husband is supportive, even to the point that he suggested you quit your job. I’m lucky that I really like my full time job, but it would be nice to someday write full time.

      Don’t worry about those looks people give you. Be proud!🙂

  3. I totally agree.
    I have for past month already started getting up earlier to give me time. Initially it was 5:30 AM. Now I’m up at 4:30 with the goal that I can give myself nearly 2 hours before the real work day starts.

    I would also say I believe your husband doesn’t recognize it because he’s scared he doesn’t have the guts to follow up on something like this. Just keep writing.

    1. Wow, Mark, 4:30! Now that’s real dedication. I write better at night, but every writer has to decide the best schedule.

      I think a lot of the problem with my husband is that he simply doesn’t get it. To him, a job is where you leave the house and punch in somewhere. LOL

  4. What fantastic post! I needed to read this today. I especially loved the part about the “business” side of things, like keeping good records. I could do a better job with that for sure.
    Thanks for the awesome post, Lauralynn!

  5. I used to do some career counseling, and one of our recommendations when you really want to do a job is to do it for free until you can work your way into the industry. That is, if you want to work at a museum, volunteer there. Learn the ropes, make connections, grow your resume; then you are in a better place to get the paying job when opportunity arises.

    Same thing with writing. I’m doing it for free now, but eventually this “hobby” should become a paying gig. Treat it like a job now, though, and transitioning to a salaried job later should be no problem. Great advice!

    1. Julie, I jumped right in and did this for money. LOL. But I totally understand what you’re talking about. Doing free stuff will help exercise those writing muscles so that you get better and better.

  6. Fantastic post. It’s a shame your husband doesn’t support it with more encouraging comments because obviously YOU see it as a job and if YOU see your writing as your job, then…that’s what it is, period.
    I am blessed that hubby is super supportive. I think he’s banking on my success actually. LOL! But it’s nice. I know he’d do whatever I ask in support of my writing. He sees it as not only a part-time job but as something I love and something he believes I can be very successful at – that’s nice.
    The only one who doesn’t or hasn’t treated it like a part-time job is me. Sadly. That’s one thing I’ve learned from the whole ROW80 experience, I need to treat this more seriously. I need to set specific times to write as IF I was going off to my part-time job. This writing however and whenever is NOT working.
    So in January, I plan to set my schedule and I know hubby will back me…

    1. Natalie, it’s so great that your husband supports you so well! My husband is great about almost everything else, so he’s not being mean on purpose. He just has no clue. My mom, on the other hand, is my biggest fan!🙂

      I think you’ll feel so much more in control if you set a schedule. But always give yourself breaks, too. Take days off if you need to. But take it seriously. Things will be easier once you get into the habit.

  7. I’m disabled, so writing is my work (and how I stay sane, LOL). Still, it’s hard sometimes even for me to see writing as a job. It helps that my hubby believes in me more than I believe in myself.

    Real conversation:

    Random Person,”So, what do you do?”
    Me, “I’m an author.”
    Person, “Really, what do you write?”
    Me, “Paranormal romance and romantic suspense.”
    Person, “Oh, how nice.”
    Me, “I need to get going. I have to get to work.”
    Person, “Oh, where do you work?”

    I try not to scream.

    1. Oh, man, RIGHT after you tell someone you’re an author, they ask where you work??? What will it take to make someone believe writing is a real job? I don’t hear anyone questioning Stephen King!

      I’m glad your hubby is supportive and believes in you. I know that helps. Now you need to believe in yourself more!🙂

  8. What an encouraging post Lauralynn! I can’t wait to join you all in January! I am very fortunate. My husband is really supportive, although we are not talking about wordpress right now. LOL! He’s just set up my theme recently and it was a lot of work. Let me just say I owe him big time!🙂

    1. Thanks, Karen! Will January be your first time in ROW80? It’s such a great challenge with so many supportive people!

      That’s so cool that your husband set up WordPress for you, It sounds like he’s really in your corner!

  9. Wow can I relate to this! The main way my husband is supportive is by not giving me a hard time about how much time I spend doing something that brings in next to no money; and *occasionally* watching TV in the other room so I can write. But he admitted he thinks of it as a hobby – not because I work at home (I’ve had software development jobs where I could do that), but because of the (lack of) income. But wow, 13k? And your husband still thinks it’s a hobby? Mine would be thrilled with that.

    I do keep records, so I’m good there. One other thing I’ve heard to do is to keep regular office hours – I’m going to try that one, and see if it makes a difference!

    1. Hi, Jennette. When you start making money, maybe your husband will take this more seriously. I’m hoping someday my husband will think about what he said. At least he doesn’t give me a hard time about going into the other room to write. It’s more about what he says about the actual writing. Who knows….maybe he’s just messing with me to get a reaction…..

      Keeping office hours is definitely a good thing. It makes you feel more like it’s a real job.🙂

  10. Awesome post, Lauralynn. You always were a good motivator. That’s why your members at Weight Watchers loved you when you used to be the leader. You make people feel like they can really do what they want to do and to not beat themselves up if they have a bad day. But yes if you really want to be a good writer you do have to treat it as a business so that it will be a business.

    Just remember, your hubby is a man and they really don’t understand us women anyway. LOL!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Anya! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in a post or two, I’ve compared writing with weight loss and applied things I learned from Weight Watchers.🙂

      True…I wonder if the male writers have that kind of problem with their wives? LOL

  11. I’m fortunate that my husband is supportive of my writing (particularly since it often means I have to ignore him to get stuff done). It’s my mother who can’t seem to see it as anything but a hobby–irrelevant now that I’m an adult and in charge of my own life, but I have to wonder, if she’d been supportive when I was young instead of poo pooing it and insisting I get a “real job”, would I be further along the path now? Water under the bridge either way. The point is, I’m making it happen. I’m taking the risk. And ultimately, it will be up to me to decide when to quit my job (as I’m the primary breadwinner in our family, so that’s gonna be a WHILE) to do this full time.

    1. Kait, I can’t imagine my mom not being supportive. I wish I had believed more in myself when I was younger. But, back then, BUSINESS was the thing to get into, not writing. If I had decided to switch majors in college, my mom would have been right there in my corner.

      I’m glad you’re taking the risk. You definitely have the talent, and someday I really believe you’ll be doing this full time.

      1. She means well, but she’s terrified of any kind of risk–to the point that I have to question whether she’s really living at all. So the fact that I’m willing to take risks, face the fear of failure is something that just doesn’t compute to her.

  12. I so needed this kind of encouragement. Thank you for sharing my conversation with my husband, oops, I mean your conversation with your husband. I put a lot of time and energy into my writing, and I enjoy it. No it’s not bringing in much money yet, but that shouldn’t completely devalue it. I’m going to go write right now with my head held high. Thank you!

    1. LOL, Tia. Yes, we do put a lot of time and energy into writing. We enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t work. When I get up from the computer, my back hurts, my hands hurt, my butt hurts….that sounds like work to me.🙂 Plus, it can really drain our brains sometimes. And if it’s not bringing in that much money, that certainly doesn’t devalue your work. These things take time. If writing is your passion, you need to do it…with your head held high!

  13. You’re making $$ and he still doesn’t get it? Heck. I know exactly how you feel. How do you explain to people that you’re turning down engagements because you have to work? That you’re getting up early because you have to work? And they think you’ve got your face in the computer all night after work for a hobby…
    I’m not saying writing isn’t fun!🙂

  14. Deniz, there are going to be some people who just don’t get it. I have one friend who just kind of brushes it off when I talk about it. Of course, it’s always all about her. LOL It’s really hard to make people understand that you have to leave to get work done when you’re writing. I have heard from one friend who works from home and another one that had her own business that it’s a problem for them, too. If you’re self employed or work from home, people think you can just leave and go do what you want to all the time.🙂 So maybe it’s not always just writers that have to deal with that. But I still think people take other businesses more seriously.

  15. I’ll be joining in on the next round! I really appreciated this post. So far my hubby is being supportive of me approaching this like a job – but it’s going to be hard for others (and probably eventually him) until it makes us money LOL

    1. I’m glad you’ve decided to join us, Ruthie! I hope your hubby continues being supportive. And remember, it does usually take a little time to get a following and start making real money. Be patient.

  16. I think a lot of folk do not take writing seriously, both writers and nonwriters. I know there are some members of my family who consider it even less than a hobby…they consider it a time waster. Sigh. But, I do consider it a job even though I haven’t made any money just yet. Sometimes I do forget though.

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