Who is a writer? Jen Jones on the Full-Time Writer

When I recently read an article by Jen Jones called Writing Is My Job, her voice resonated with me. As a full-time writer and editor, I know those struggles. Of people belittling and demeaning your work because you don’t have a standard 9-to-5.

Well, for the holidays, I took a temp job in October for three months so I could make extra money. So currently I do this second job, come home, write, sleep, and start over all over again the next day. For me, it’s a second job that might last six months instead of three, but we’ll see. My writing comes first.

For those of you who are writers, I just wanted to let you know that it’s okay to consider your current 9-to-5 as your second job. Because that’s what it is. You may not make enough to quit the second job and devote full-time to writing, or you may not be able to stretch the budget to get used to being paid quarterly.

It doesn’t matter. Your reasons are private and what you make is no one’s business.

And for those of you who don’t write and look down on those who do say they’re writers, sit your judgmental asses on the side for a second and listen up: if someone tells you they’re a writer, don’t make your first question “are you published?” It may seem like an innocent enough question and seem like you’re just inquiring where to buy their work, but to a writer who is struggling to publish or finish a manuscript, it can be a painful question. Plus I know some people do it to be dinks and belittle the person’s profession or make them feel small. That’s not any of my readers, though, I’m sure.

Just because they aren’t published yet doesn’t make them any less of a writer. I’ve published 5200 articles–all of them ghost-written. I’ve published a short story in an anthology, and I’ve published a one-shot short story on Amazon. I have a full composite novel coming out just in time for Halloween. Yes, I’m a writer. Even before I published my first short story.

Be nice to us indie authors. We’re just here to tell stories and be entertaining.

So what do you ask, then? A better question is, “what are you working on?” Okay, while it’s a grammatically incorrect question, it gives the writer a chance to tell you about their newest project or something they have already published. It increases your likelihood that you won’t be killed off in their next chapter, too. So side benefit.

“What are you working on?” is the question that a writer asks another writer, unless we’re being dicks on purpose. Sometimes I’ll ask, “where are you at with publishing?” because I want to be helpful. It’s a different question than “are you published” because I don’t presuppose that you have to be published to be a writer. It also gives the other writer a chance to brag about their new deal with Random House, or tell me they’re braving the waters of self-publishing and are in need of an editor.

Whether you’re a full-time writer or you have a second job to support your writing career, if you work hard day in and day out writing on your manuscript and you know what it means when I say the phrase “elevator pitch” without using Google, then congratulations, you’re a writer.


My name is Anne, and I write stuff. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I also answer questions on Quora.

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