I view my writing as a job. I use that term loosely. Though I derive some income directly from my writing, like most authors, I also have a day job to help pay the bills. Few authors earn enough money through their writing alone to fully support themselves and their families. The vast majority have another source of income, even though it may be writing-related. Such is my case. (I’m a magazine publisher.)
Still, I think it’s critical to treat writing like a job. This means:
- I write every day, just like going to work. Though I don’t punch a time clock, I do have a regular time to write. When it’s time to write, I sit down, and I do it, with no procrastination and no waffling. I write.
- I invest in my job of writing by going to conferences, two per year. This allows me to meet other writers, as well as agents and publishers. I make friends in the writing community; I network; I help others. I give and I receive it.
- I also strive to improve as a writer. This includes reading blogs, listening to podcasts, taking online courses, and reading books and magazines that relate to writing. I attend writing groups to have my work critiqued and to give input to others. I seek input every chance I get.
- I treat writing as a business, too. I track expenses (yuck) and income (yea). Some years I make a profit, and I’m trending towards profit every year. Right now, most of that income is derived from freelance work.
I treat my writing as a job. My dream is that one-day writing will be my only one.
Other people view writing as a hobby. They write when they feel like it. They write just for their family or friends, maybe even just for themselves. Sometimes they don’t even let other people read their writing. They don’t expect to ever make money from their work. But they do spend money on their hobby. They attend conferences, though it’s mostly for fun: to have an excuse to travel, hang out with other writers, or tie in a mini-vacation. They may also be part of the writer’s groups, but it’s mostly for social benefits. Last, the writing hobbyist often prefers to talk about writing more than to actually write.
Though I wish every writer would treat writing as their job, I know that for some it is a hobby. And that’s okay, just as long as they are honest with themselves.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.