There are careers and job paths out there that we can’t even begin to understand. And what happens when we don’t understand them? We make assumptions about that career path.
Writing is one of them. And just so you know…
There are certain things you should never say to a writer.
As a writer, I have the luxury (and yes, to me it’s a luxury,) of working from my home. If I don’t feel like doing that, I can escape to a cafe or picnic table on the beach.
For the record, I chose this profession, so I’m not “lucky.” I used to be a television reporter and would spend my days standing in the freezing cold or outside of a live truck for hours waiting for a stand-off to end. I totally prefer working from home or the beach.
Having said that, here are 9 Things You Should Never Say to a Writer:
1) You’re So Lucky
Luck has nothing to do with it. If you choose to work from home, there are plenty of sacrifices that have to be made in order to make that happen. No one came knocking on my door one say and said, “Here’s a work-from-home job tailor-made just for you. Have fun!”
I’m lucky because I made it work. So if you feel so compelled to tell me I’m lucky, just remember that.
2) So You Only Work Part-Time?
Listen, do you want me to knock the teeth right out of you? Part-time? Part-time?? There is no such thing as part-time for writers, screenwriters, actors, artists, and any other kind of creative work. I work full-time. Do I get to create my own schedule? Absolutely. But there are 168 hours in a week to choose from. I get to pick which ones I want to work.
3) You Must Not Make Much Money
Oh, no? Says who? Yes, there are freelance writers and ghostwriters and screenwriters out there who probably don’t make very much money. But that’s their choice. In reality, you can make as much as you want. It takes hard work (which requires one work full-time), but what doesn’t? When you go after something you enjoy, it never comes easy. It always takes hard work and perseverance.
4) What Do You Write? And Don’t Tell Me Everything.
I had someone say this to me once and it took everything I had not to knock his teeth out.
I write lots of different things: Blog posts, books, marketing scripts, screenplays, and more blog posts, books, scripts, and screenplays.
I do all of that for money. So no, I don’t just write one thing. For myself, I write scripts that I want to sell or invest in as an indie production. But to support those ventures, I write lots of different things for others. So there.
5) Why On Earth Would You Want To Be a Writer?
C’mon, people. That’s just plain ignorant. Never question someone’s passion. It may not make sense to you, but it makes perfect sense to them.
Why on earth would you want to be an entrepreneur?
Or an actor?
A fisherman or a hockey player?
Never ask someone WHY they want to be something. That’s insulting. Unless you know everything about it, don’t ask a writer why on earth they want to be a writer.
6) It Must be Nice
It is. Moving on…
7) Pfft. Get a Real Job
Just because you don’t know how to go out and work for yourself doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t know how. Real jobs don’t come in boxes, nor do they exist only in corporate office buildings. In my humble opinion, real jobs are created and designed with passion in mind.
So before you judge someone’s artistic, entrepreneurial lifestyle, look how happy they are first. Look how happy you’re not. Maybe you’re the one who needs to get a real job? One that you’re insanely passionate about…
8) Do You Watch TV All Day?
No. Well yes, sometimes. But not because I don’t want to work. If I’m writing a script, I often watch similar shows and note the A, B, and C storylines. I study the characters and look for the arcs and the conflict.
But everyday is different.
Sometimes I work a shift at a bookstore.
Sometimes I write at home.
Sometimes I’m on set working.
Sometimes I take long walks and work a story out in my head.
Sometimes I’m ghostwriting for a client.
Truly. Every day is different.
9) No One is a Writer. Is That Even Real?
Yes, writing is real. I am a writer. Writing is never going to die. Not with the Internet growing regularly in this Digital Age.
For those of you looking to get started, you can make a living as a freelance writer. Yes, there are some writers who don’t make that much money. (Been there.) But it is very real. A lot of the contract work I do (outside of scriptwriting) is for creative enterpreneurs who need to have a strong online presence. They need a book or a series of blog posts. And it’s a niche in high demand. Based on the projects you choose, writers can make as much as they want and work whenever they want.
And frankly, I would take writing in my jammies on a cold winter day over standing outside in the cold on the street waiting for a stand-off to end just so I can talk in a microphone to tell the people at home what happened.
So what kind of statements/questions have YOU heard when it comes to being a writer or creative entrepreneur? How have you responded?
Joleene Moody is a former television reporter and anchor turned actor and screenwriter based in Central New York. Learn more at www.joleenemoody.com