What it Means to Be a Wannabe Writer

You do what? You write for a living?! Oh.....how wonderful for you!

- Fake laugh.

- Raised eyebrow.

- Condescending smirk.

Sadly, no - I'm not making this up. I get this reaction quite often when I tell people that I write for a living.

I think it's time to shed some light on this topic, for just a few people out there who don't know what it means to be a writer.

**Disclaimer notice: This article is not meant to offend anyone, nor is it an attack on any specific person. It's a little rant, thrown in with some humour and hopefully a lot of useful tips and information for those not in the know. For those who are, my support system - thank you!

Dear World,

I thought it was time that you and I had a little chat.

See, I don't think you realize exactly what I do every day. I think you have a bit of a warped sense of what my job consists of. Please don't be upset, I'm not lecturing you - I'm sure you mean well. You're probably quite busy and don't really feel like getting into this right now, but you're a little delusional and I want to set things straight...so listen up.

OK, so first thing's first. You probably think that I sleep until brunch time and only go to bed in the wee hours of the morning, right? Well, I have news for you. Sadly, I'm not Carrie Bradshaw. I don't have a regular column on some newspaper that sells into the millions and a set income that arrives in my bank account every month. That means that I don't have the luxury of waking up whenever I feel like it. That means that I get up early and am online for working hours to speak to clients, network and apply for jobs. It means my working day starts at 6:30 in the morning and sometimes doesn't finish until 8pm at night.

Still jealous of my working hours?

Oh, you see me on Facebook and Twitter every day so I must have a lot of free time, right? I think I need to enlighten you a little bit about what's happening in the world today - specifically in the working environment. It's called technology. It's called Social Media. That's what's happening.

Do you know that almost all employers look at Facebook profiles before hiring prospective employees? What do you think a client does when they want to take on a new contractor, say for example, a writer like me? Heck, most of the larger companies even have an online chat system so customers don't have to call in!

You're still not getting why I'm posting other things that aren't related to my writing? It's a little thing called networking. Do you know how off-putting it is to come into contact with someone who only promotes themselves or their business? No thanks, I don't want to be one of those people.

I'm not on Social Media because I have nothing better to do.

You think I'm special, selfish or spoilt because I decided to become a full-time writer? OK, that's your opinion and you're entitled to it. But, first - let me break it down for you. See if you still feel the same way in a minute.

  • Special. I certainly don't think I'm above anyone else because I have a nice job title. It sounds lovely and creative, doesn't it though? But, believe me when I say that there are days when I want to break something, cry in frustration or shut down completely. You try competing with millions (yes, I said millions) of other writers all around the world for jobs. Some of them are prepared to work for peanuts....$1.5 for 10 articles. Are they crazy?! It's a daily battle to try and make your writing and pitch to clients and companies stand out - to be memorable.
  • Selfish. I'm making my husband work himself to death so that I can sit around all day and write little love stories. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this isn't the case. For one, I can only dream about writing a novel all day, everyday. And number two, the real reason why I'm doing this is so that one day when I have children, they can look up to me and be proud. I want to set an example that going for your dreams and working towards making it a reality, IS possible. I want to have something to do with my life after they leave home. I want to be there for them when they're growing up. So, no - I most certainly don't feel selfish for what I'm doing. Couples make decisions together - not that that's any of anyone else's business but people will judge things that they don't understand or that doesn't concern them. Just saying.
  • Spoilt. I guess I am a little bit spoilt due to the fact that I don't have to sit in traffic in order to get to work. But otherwise, most people have a misconception about what it means to work from home. It does not mean that I have time to talk to friends or family on the phone in the middle of the day. It does not mean that I have additional time to do the washing during the day. And it certainly doesn't mean that I have the luxury of taking off a day when I'm sick!

I hope that after reading this letter, you now have a slightly better understanding of what it means to be a writer - that we aren't all just slacking around at home and living THE writer's life.

I'm so glad we could get this straightened out. Thanks for listening. And if you still don't understand what I do, please have the decency to roll your eyes or smirk in the other direction when I'm not looking if you absolutely must.


Yours sincerely,

Melanie Chisnall: Wannabe (trying like hell to be one) Writer

The Author

Melanie Chisnall is a full-time freelance writer from Cape Town, South Africa.

Her background includes experience working in recruitment and human resources. She has also worked in IT, retail and catering, and uses this experience when writing. Some of her favourite topics to write on include self-improvement, careers, travel, food, animals and entertainment.

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Comments 39 comments

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Mel, you rock and this was absolutely great. I couldn't have said it better myself. Why is when you tell people you work from home writing that right away there is this pre-conceived notion that we are lazy or selfish. I am with you and am anything but. And can't agree enough that we work our proverbial butts off all day and everyday! Most days I am still working at 11 at night, right up to the time I go to bed and then do all over again when I wake up. Thanks truly for writing this and making me feel that at least I am not alone on this one. Have of course voted and shared all over too :)

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

This is great. People think I sit around all day and watch TV. Or they ask me how it feels to be retired. I work more now than I did when I worked in a corporate legal department, but for far less pay. Am I happier and more fulfilled? Absolutely.

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Well said! I have nothing to add. You said it all, perfectly. Up and stuff.

Michael Tully profile image

Michael Tully 4 years ago

Excellent! You've spoken so eloquently for untold thousands of us. I do believe that the preconceived notions of laziness and selfishness on our part originate mostly from envy. So many people covet the freedom of working from home and being one's own boss, but are unwilling to put forth the time and effort needed to make it happen. Thanks for the affirmation. Voted up, interesting, awesome, beautiful.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I get the same reactions, Mel, and then spend five minutes explaining to people how it's possible to make a living by writing. Then I have those who think that because I work for myself that means I'm available for them. You did a great job of clarifying what it is we do. Wonderful hub...sharing!

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Being a full time writer is hard work demanding above-average determination and persistence. It takes 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. But just as in the case of full-time musicians, writing is regarded by the ignorant as 'playing'. History of mankind proves that most writers and musicians die in poverty. So only a passionate urge to write keeps a writer in business. And that to the benefit of people not having the ability to appreciate and respect writers? As a writer I often label myself as 'totally crazy'. But what would life be without writers and their writings (or musicians and their music)? And I did not even mention any of the other occupations in the genre of Art & Culture!

Being a writer and what it means superbly stressed by you, Melanie!

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Mel, you have made my day! When I share that I write, people look at me like as if to say, "Really?" Yes, it is what we do and it is not a regular 9 - 5 job, it's much more. However, it is our passion, and if you are like me, I feel blessed to have this ability to write and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Great hub and voted way up!

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chrisinhawaii 4 years ago

Respect! I feel ya, Mel. It definitely hurts when friends and family just don't get it and think that sitting at Starbucks all day with my laptop is playtime. On the surface, I seem to be doing the same thing as the girl next to me. She's sipping an iced coffee, earbuds in her ears, fingers dancing along her keyboard. But just because she's chatting with friends on Facebook and watching Youtube videos and playing Farmville, it doesn't mean that I'm doing the same!

Votes all around and shared too! Hang in there, Melanie, and welcome to My Freelance Life - Month #2! BWU-HAHA! =)

writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

We both wish to be published with a real publisher, instead of on-line because I have sold 3 children's books but it doesn't fee like it.

I wish you the best of luck to get published. I know it takes hours to write a number of pages. I just wish I had my writers mind back because it's been gone for to long and I miss writing.

Vote up and awesome, keep writing. Joyce

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chrisinhawaii 4 years ago

@ writer20 I don't mean to stir things up, but any publisher who pays me for my writing - whether online or off - is a "real" publisher in my book. I'm just sayin...

high-paying gigs are nice, but a writer's gotta do what a writer's gotta do, and if that means taking low-paying jobs until something better comes along, then so be it.

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

You go girl! Good for you!

I would love to have you in my corner if I ever needed to set someone straight.

Great job.

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Hi Janine! Indeed - most people have a very preconceived idea about working from home and writing. It's a little ridiculous. Glad this hub could make you feel better - we are definitely not alone in this! Thanks for the vote and comment, and for sharing :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Deborah - Haha! I WISH I had time to sit around and watch TV! I fully agree with you...I am also doing more now and using a lot more brain cells than when I was working in my job as Accounts Administrator! Also less pay, but also A LOT happier. That's what matters to me right now. Glad to hear I'm not alone :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Hi Sally! Thank you so much! I just had to get it off my chest, it's been driving me nuts! Thanks for the votes and for commenting :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Michael, you are so right! I can tell you now that 90% of those that have snide comments to give are ones that are secretly wishing they could do the same thing. Would they? Doubtful as you say. They probably know how much effort and work it is. All very nice being your own boss (well, to a degree....you still have clients, publishers and the like to work for), but it's no walk in the park. That's being employed and knowing you have a set salary every month, no matter what. Thanks for reading and commenting - much appreciated! :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Bill, I get what you're saying. We have to forever be explaining - almost defending what we're doing. It's madness. Why should we have to justify to others what we do? And yes - people think because we write from home that we have flexible hours and can take off a few hours during the day. Yes, we can.....but that needs to be made up. And sorry, but I would also like to see my husband in the few waking hours before bed and not be sitting at the computer when it's supposed to be "relaxing" time together. Thanks for dropping in and for your comment - glad you liked the hub (rant) :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Martie, I love what you say here about being a full-time writer is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration....SO true! I guess we are a little crazy (I have been told this to my face) to be writing full-time instead of working an 8-5 job..."normal" work. But, I don't like normal. It's boring. I like being a bit crazy / creative - putting it all out there. Thanks so much for your comment! :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Thank you teaches12345! :) I'm with you there! I can't remember a day - except for maybe the first two or three - since I started where I've worked 8 hours. It's always more. It's writing, it's marketing, it's networking and it's constant. But, you're right - the fruits of our labour are well worth it! I'm glad I made your day :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Chris, I can just imagine some of the looks you must get daily at Starbucks! Especially sitting next to someone playing games next to you on their laptop! I wish some of my friends could just for one or two days do what I do at home and then tell me how it was. People who don't write, don't understand. Guess we just have to hang in there as you say, and keep pushing through.

Thanks for your comment, votes and for sharing! Btw, I checked out your blog - The Hub Factory - very cool! :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Hi Joyce - That's the ultimate goal, isn't it? To be a published author and have your name on the shelves of bookstores around the world. Sadly, like you say - it takes hours and hours, luck and it also doesn't happen overnight.

Congratulations on your 3 children's books! That's amazing and such an accomplishment. I hope to get there one of these days. For now, it's just working the grindstone and taking the little jobs that come along to increase my portfolio and gain experience. Thanks for the vote and for your lovely comment :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Lol, shiningirisheyes - I'm usually not like this and back away from saying it like it is, unless it's something I feel very passionate about - and that usually revolves around work and money, and animals :)

Thank you so much for dropping in to read and for your awesome comment - much appreciated!

Curiad profile image

Curiad 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

You did a good job here in sharing the basics of working from home and what it is really like!

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Hi Mark - Thank you! I'd just got to the point where enough was enough. People don't like to hear what it's really like? Tough - they're going to hear it. I don't think posting an 8 + hour on YouTube of what we do all day is going to work, lol. Thanks for your comment :)

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and interesting. Being a writer takes more work and more courage than anything else. You said it very well. I always wish I could find more time to write. Passing this on.

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Hi Gypsy Rose Lee - Courage and hard work (and sweat and tears)...yes! But, it's one of those professions that are worth it all. Thank you so much for making time to read my rant, much appreciated! :)

midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

I fully agree, Melanie. We work from home, and everyone thinks we are not actually "working." They have it in their heads that a only a job with a paid salary from a boss qualifies as work. I am sharing so as to clear that misconception. Thanks for this!

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Yay, Michelle! Always good to hear of others who work from home and feel the same way! People need to get a wake up call, lol. Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing! Much appreciated :)

unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

that's a great one Melchi! I enjoyed reading what you think and feel. Best wishes!

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Thank you unknown spy! Some people just don't get it - had to get it off my chest, lol. Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for your comment - appreciated, as always :)

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

OMG - I absolutely love this. You have said it loud and proud. For me, while I would love to say my full-time job is writing, my first time job is my family and the kids. So sometimes I have to put my writing down. But I know exactly how you feel. People think I have all the time in the world. And frankly, sometimes I just want to write. I want to get this off the ground so I can make something more than peanuts! Great rant!!! Loved it! And I am sure all other writers can completely relate!

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Stacy - I don't know what it is about the phrase "working from home" that people don't get. Even if you weren't writing, looking after kids and managing a house IS a full-time job! Glad you enjoyed the rant, lol. ;) Btw, you should be proud of what you're doing - while looking after your kids and house. Imagine where you'll be 10 years from now?! Yeeah! Excited to be writing all our books together - fun times ahead for the next month!!

carter06 profile image

carter06 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

I'm sorry I missed this Mel...and all I want to say is 'You go girl'!! You got it right though it's harder than we think telling people we write for a living, yeah? But like what we do or not if it's our passion and it makes a few bucks - or for some lot's of bucks - that's all that matters...big vote UA :) & shared...cheers

nanderson500 profile image

nanderson500 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

Great hub. Yeah, I guess some people really don't understand that writing is a very difficult job. Oh well, don't let them get you down. Voted up and interesting.

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Thanks carter06! You made my afternoon reading your kind words!! :)

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Hi nanderson500...Nah, I'm learning how not to let them get me down. Thanks! Sometimes they're a necessary evil I think, to edge us on and to prove them wrong. It's still annoying at times though ;)

Sue Bailey profile image

Sue Bailey 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

I'm with you all the way on this Mel. I'm just starting out on the same path and its not easy. I wish you every success in your writing career. A good rant now and again does you good!

MelChi profile image

MelChi 3 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Thank you Sue! A rant is very much needed now and then! Best of luck to you too, I'm sure you're going to be much happier! :)

Brittanie2216 profile image

Brittanie2216 3 years ago from Seattle WA

Well put!!! I don't know how often I have been told that some people have a real job when I probably spend more time writing on my computer than they do at work in a day!!!

MelChi profile image

MelChi 3 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa Author

Brittanie2216 - Yes, exactly! I think people who judge writers, need to give it a try for a week. Writing, marketing, networking....the works! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. :)

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