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