Weekend Edition – Writing is My “Real” Job

“Real” is overrated.

pin opinion and perspectiveWhen someone asks what you do, how do you answer? Does the label “writer” trip lightly off the tip of your tongue, or do you keep that identity to yourself and instead talk about your day job? It seems like a small thing, but how we “label” ourselves  – to others and in our own minds – has a big impact on what we believe about ourselves and how we behave.

I actually do make my living as a writer, but the writing that pays my bills is not, in my estimation, “real” writing. When asked what I “do,” I usually say that I’m a messaging strategist and content marketer (and, then I have to explain what the heck that means). Even after nearly a decade of stringing one word after another for cold, hard cash, I still hesitate to grant myself the honorary title of “writer.” I don’t feel that writing (“real” writing – as in fiction and creative non-fiction) is my “real” job. It’s just something I do on the side.

But how do we define “real,” and are we doing it wrong?

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Your vocation is said to be your professional calling. It is your career, a serious pursuit that in a perfect world is specially suited to your specific talents and skills. An avocation, on the other hand, is a hobby, something you do outside of your “real” work. The subtext here is that it’s something you do for fun, in part because you’re not good enough to make a living at it. Most writers think of their writing as an avocation. At best, they think of it as a side hustle; at worst, they think of it as an indulgence. Because of these perceptions, we feel obligated to prioritize our vocation  (sales manager, accountant, plumber, etc.) ahead of our writing. Our day job is, after all, our “real” job, right?

I don’t think so. I think that we have the idea of “real” seriously backwards. We erroneously assume that “real” requires permission, external validation, financial compensation, and the lion’s share of our time. Based on these criteria, we’re left with a very narrow description of what a “real writer” looks like: A real writer has permission to write; she has been ordained by the powers that be and (after jumping through multiple hoops and prostrating herself before members of the publishing world’s mafia) has been accepted into a cadre of the literary elite. A real writer is practically drowning in third-party validation – degrees, awards, recognition, respect, acclaim – she has earned the stamp of approval from all the important people. A real writer writes for a living. She can attach a (significant) dollar amount to her word smithing labors. And, finally, a real writer does not have time for other things. Her life is completely consumed by her art. She not only avoids the time drain of a j-o-b, she also finds it difficult to tear herself away from the keyboard for any reason. Family, friends, and housework be damned. I’m a writer!

First of all, this version of “real” does not sound like something I want. Secondly, I’m not even sure how we got so caught up chasing “real” in the first place. We’re writers, for heaven’s sake. “Real”  – by that definition – is not where we live.

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Let’s forget, for a moment, about that version of “real.” Let’s divest ourselves of years (maybe generations) of misconceptions about what it takes to earn the title of Real Writer. Let these falsehoods drop away like pieces of an ill-fitting and uncomfortable costume you were wearing without even realizing it. Shrug off the suffocating and prickly cloak of permission; it kept tripping you up anyway.  Set aside the heavy and precariously balanced headpiece of validation; its weight and your fear of it toppling have always kept you from dancing. Slip the burdensome chains of financial expectations from around your neck; you used to think they were beautiful, but now you realize they were just a glittering noose, one that clinked and clanked in a most distracting way. Finally, shimmy out of the constricting garments of inflexible and unrealistic dedication; breathe deeply of everything the world and your life have to offer – the art and your work, yes, but also the joys of family and friends, the delight of wasting time, and the magical adventure of chasing your curiosity.

Doesn’t that feel better?

“Real” is not something outside of you. It’s not something you can buy or earn. “Real” is not what you do or how you do it. It’s who you are. It’s what’s left after all that external stuff is stripped away or laid gently aside. It is everything about you that cannot be stolen.

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When you look at your life so far, what is real to you? Is it the money and professional titles you have earned, the material things you’ve bought, the perceptions of others? Do you judge yourself and your life on how you have acquired and spent money and stature? I doubt it. I bet if I sat down over a cup of coffee with any one of you, we’d end up talking about the importance of authenticity, taking time to enjoy life’s small pleasures, and being true to ourselves.

And yet, we we have a hard time judging the value and validity of our writing based on these values. We talk a good game, but then we make choices that belittle our writing. If we aren’t earning our living or great acclaim with our words and stories, our writing takes a back seat to the things that are more “real” – the things for which we are recognized (performance at work, for instance) and which put food on the table. And even if we have had some professional success, it’s never enough.

The danger lies in repeatedly prioritizing the falsely real over the “really real.” Our lives are shaped by the choices we make. Sometimes it’s hard to see the life we’re creating when we’re so immersed in the day-to-day, but when we step back we suddenly realize how all those small decisions come together to create the Big Picture of our life.

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When someone asks you what you do, you don’t have to say you’re a writer. But, when you think about who you are, I hope that you consider “writer” a part of your real identity – your true self, the part that cannot be taken away or changed by external forces. You may earn your living selling shoes, waiting tables, teaching sixth grade math, designing ad campaigns, or servicing cars, but that’s not your “real” job.

Your real job is writing. It’s work you feel called to do, work you do even though you may not get paid, work that keeps you up in the middle of the night (in the best possible way) and makes you excited to be alive. Your real job is writing because that’s the work that gives you a sense of purpose and your life a deeper meaning. Your j-o-b is simply a means to an end. You may be good at it. You may even enjoy it. But, that doesn’t make it any more “real” than your writing.  You may receive money in exchange for the work you do at your job, but think about what you receive in exchange for your writing – a sense of discovery, understanding, fulfillment, joy, pride, connection – which is ultimately more valuable?

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The point of taking care to elevate your perception of yourself as a  “real” writer is to ensure that you take that role seriously and give it the time and energy it deserves. You deserve respect as a writer. You deserve the chance to pursue your writing without guilt or shame. Your job is a short-term pursuit; your writing is a lifelong journey. Your job is a series of tasks; your writing is the expression of your unique vision. Your job is defined by what you earn; your writing is defined by what you learn. Your job is about doing; your writing is about being.

So, go ahead. Write. Be real. Be a real writer.


What I’m Reading:

book raven boysA few weeks ago, I read a book called The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Though I enjoyed the book, the funny thing is that when I was writing last week’s Shareworthy notes, I completely forgot that I had read it.

The Raven Boys is a straight-up paranormal YA read. I didn’t realize this when I first picked it up. I had bought the book a year or two ago at the earnest urging of a youngish bookshop employee who raved about it. When I finally picked it up off my shelf, I almost gave up after reading less than the first hundred pages because it was a little too angst-y for me. But, ultimately, I decided to stick it out and enjoy it for what it is.

This book is part of a series. I believe there are three books so far. Warning – book one ends with a major cliffhanger/teaser, so if you’re not down with that kind of thing, you may not want to take the ride. But, if you like dark, slightly cynical stories about the unlikely camaraderie of rich and poor young adults going on paranormal adventures together, this might be just the thing for a winter read. Plus, it has a raven named Chainsaw, so there’s that.

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I also really enjoyed the essay This Body by Zsofi McMullin on Full Grown People.  I haven’t had the time recently to enjoy all the great writing that’s published on this indie blog from Jennifer Niesslein, but every once in a while the title of a piece or the intro Jennifer writes in her email update (I highly recommend you subscribe to the emails) makes me put aside what I’m doing to indulge in a few minutes of reading.

I especially loved this bit, because I can relate:

I miss being unaware of my body. I can’t remember when that was—maybe in my twenties?—when my body just did what it was supposed to do and I never gave it a second thought. I didn’t think about my weight or about being healthy or eating healthy, or whether I should exercise or not. I didn’t think about whether my stomach was too big to wear that shirt or if those jeans will make my butt look big. My body was just there, doing its thing. It never protested, it didn’t put on ten pounds in one stressful year. It didn’t ache, it didn’t bloat, it didn’t feel heavy and stiff in the mornings. It just was.

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I also loved this funny piece from Jane Roper: Life Moves Pretty Fast: 5 Ways to Ditch Your Phone Addiction.  It includes great and well-written advice about how to wean ourselves off our phones. Plus, it has Ferris Bueller. I loved Jane’s I’m-mad-as-hell tone:

Pardon my French, but I’m sick of this merde. I’m sick of having to dodge pedestrians looking down instead of up. Sick of everyone being so glued to their mini screens that they’re oblivious to the world and the people around them, zoned out, rude, distracted, and isolated. And I am FURIOUS when I see people looking at their phones while they’re driving.


And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin feel good inside

Here’s to feeling really real in all the best ways and for all the best reasons. Happy writing & happy reading. See you on the other side!
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

213 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Writing is My “Real” Job

  1. I was a closet writer for many years, and am now just getting used to admitting that I’m a writer. That was a big step for me, although when someone asks me what I do for a living, I still say “I work part-time at a toy store, and am a full-time mom.” But if some one sees me writing in one of my favorite spots and asks what I’m doing, I’ll say “I’m a writer.” Of course the inevitable question comes, “Oh, have you published anything?” I just smile and say, “Not yet.” And keep on writing. Great post, everything I need to hear right now.

    • For a long time, if someone asked me what kind of writing I do, my answer was, “Well, I make my living writing marketing copy, but I aspire to be the next JK Rowling … only me … and better.” I suppose it’s not such a bad goal, but it has always made me flinch a little to realize that even in casual conversation I feel the need to validate my being a writer by name-dropping the wealthiest writer in the world. I’m trying to learn to say simply, “I’m a writer” and leave it at that. Tough, though.

      I like your “Not yet” addition. That works, too. 🙂

  2. Some of these questions have been on my mind, as well. Most of my writing is scattered: random thoughts, ideas, introspections, etc. I do many responses to books as I read them, analyzing the different levels of perspective from character motivation to authors intonation. If I were to take the time to consolidate these fragments and pursue them wholeheartedly, perhaps I could put together a coherent whole. For now, I am unsure whether or not I should just forget the nominal “writer” term and adopt a more fitting title, such as Independent Journalist for Private, Introspective Enquiry.

    But . . . Do I call myself a writer? I try to, and sometimes it sounds more “real” than other times.

    In the past, I thought of myself as a Visual Artist; I have always loved line and perspective, shadow and light, subject and composition and the way each plays its role in setting the stage, that within each a story of thought is embedded. But it turns out, these same characteristics (and many that I haven’t mentioned) are present in writing; there really isn’t much of a difference when you gauge and compare the essence of each. With writing, images are built in the mind; with illustration, words fill the mind with questions. I think they serve as each others complement and am grateful to have both in my life.

    Thank you for your words; I need to check in more often, and I am happy to see that Marcus A. found you at some point. I hope you found him to be worth the read.

    • “Independent Journalist for Private, Introspective Enquiry” – that is awesome. I love it. So creative and fun and true!

      I also love what you said about the similarities between writing and the visual arts. I have often thought the same thing – the way a written scene can be created layer by layer similar to how a painting is created, or the way a story can juxtapose light and dark the way a beautiful photograph captures light. Both are art – expressions of a human heart, soul, and mind. It makes me curious to know why each artist chooses the medium she or he does. I wonder why we are drawn to any one form of expression over another.

      I also at one time considered myself a visual artist. I almost, in fact, went to art college after high school, but I chickened out at the last minute. When I was a kid, I was always drawing and writing. I haven’t done much drawing for years, but the writing thing stuck. 😉

      Thanks for coming by. Hope to “see” you around!

  3. Hi Jamie, this is a brilliant piece of writing and very inspirational! You have made me re-think just how important writing is to me, and perhaps I will now take up a writing course that I’ve been pondering over recently… 🙂

    • That is wonderful to hear, Chris. Thanks so much for sharing that. I love taking writing courses of all kinds. Any chance I get to give myself the gift of time dedicated to learning more about story and the writing craft, I’ll take it! I love the way it reinvigorates my creativity and enthusiasm.

      Good luck, and thanks for coming by!

  4. What an insightful article! Great advice on admitting to being a writer, and giving it the legitimacy it deserves.

  5. Reblogged this on wake38 and commented:
    I am smiling halfway down the article because at the start of the year I decided to take on writing full-time for a three-month period and walk away from my 9-5. I remember one morning looking over my goals and there it was, “I want to be a writer.” It was at that moment that I realized I am a writer!

    Since that brain fart, when someone asks me what do I do for a living, I say without any hesitation, “I am a writer!” Yes, I am back to working a 9-5 but that doesn’t make me any less of a writer.

    Your article is spot on!

  6. Hullo Jamie ❤️
    It’s lovely to be sitting here reading your words alongside a coffee this morning. I think of myself as a writer, and I think I always have, even when I wasn’t one! Funny huh? I am someone who can express themselves well with the written word, and what I do with that skill is up to me. These days I choose jobs (or jobs choose me) that use those skills as well as developing new, unrelated ones. I also do my own writing in various forms (blogging, poetry, large writing project) as well as consciously exploring writing in whatever way I can. There’s something else that I have been ruminating over…I don’t want a career! I just want to be me, doing things that interest me, and that are useful. I like to be paid, but sometimes it’s not in money, and I am okay with that. I don’t want to move up a ladder – I just want to refine and enhance my natural talents and skills, be of more service, enjoy myself and broaden my horizons. Now. Slap me and tell me that I’ve gone off track if you like! Love to you, have a beautiful weekend xo

    • Good morning, Sara! 🙂
      I would never slap you. And I don’t think you’ve gone off track at all.
      I love what you’ve said about being able to decide for yourself what you do with your writing skill. That’s kind of an a-ha moment for me, actually. Though I have aspirations to become a novelist, in the meantime I do all kinds of other writing – business writing, my column, these blogs – that I’ve always relegated to a second-class standing. I’ve also been thinking about a couple non-fiction projects that I’d like to tackle, but even those make me feel a little “less than” when compared to the idea of being a novelist. But, your comment makes me wonder why I feel this way. Why have I set up one kind of writing (fiction – novels, in particular) as the pinnacle, end-all-be-all of writing, when – in fact – there are so many different ways to use this skill, none more “real” than the others. Hmmmm … you always get my wheels turning.

      Oh – and I totally agree with the not wanting a career thing. Even now, as the year winds down, I’ve been thinking about how I want to diversify my work into new spaces. I’ve been focused in one area for so long, that I’m in danger of suddenly waking up and finding myself in a “career” … and that’s not really what I wanted when I set out to freelance.

      As always, thanks for being here and brightening my day. You’re better than caffeine! 😉

      • Yes! The point is that we use and develop our skills and then use them in a way that not only supports us, brings us joy, but Is somehow of use to the world…fiction, non-fiction, business, blogging, well it’s all just play in the end, isn’t it?
        Love to you, have a beautiful week xo

  7. Your post is inspiring. I started calling myself an “artist” a couple of months ago. (I dabble in many art forms, mostly writing poetry.) I do so because I practice my art every day. Every single day. If that does not make me an artist/poet, I don’t know what does. Great perspective. Thanks.

    • Exactly! To be a thing, do that thing, right? If you want to be a painter, paint. If you want to be a writer, write. You don’t need to wait for someone to give you permission or pass some kind of test. Like Nike says, “Just do it!” 🙂

      Kudos to you for practicing your art every day. Keep it up!

  8. So thoroughly enjoyed your post today. I am a writer! I can so freely express my feelings and adventures in written words and I love doing it. Published? Yes, self-published! Is that better or worse than the traditional way? I don’t care, I have made some sales of my books. I have a small budget and that is the reason for self-publishing. I figure that if I at least get my name and books out there – someone will find them and enjoy them! That makes me happy. I make random notes all over the place and have recently tried keeping them in a notebook instead. That way they don’t get lost completely. I know they are in there, I just have to find them instead of looking high and low for the sticky note that probably fell into the trash can next to my favorite chair and was whisked away into the garbage the last time I emptied it. Anyway – thank you for your very insightful article. I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to more in the future.

    • I love your verve! 🙂
      I think at a certain point we just have to say “pish-posh!” to all the constraints and doubts and whatever else is holding us back, and just go for it. Good for you for doing what you love and striking out into self publishing and being happy about the whole journey. That’s excellent!

      As we keep saying, being a writer is less about the product of our efforts and more about the journey we take while making them. And, if you do finish something and get it out there and share it with even one person – well, that’s amazing.

      Keep making those notes, but try not to lose them in the trash! 😉

      • I totally agree with you. Touching even one life with your work is satisfying. I was amazed the other day when someone commented on how encouraging my blog articles were to them. I would never have guessed that I had touched that person. By sharing my blogs to FB I have had more feedback & thank you’d than I was ever aware of before. This is growing on me!! Thanks for YUR encouragement as well!

      • The possibility of connection between writer and reader is a double-edged sword, to be sure, but I still think it’s one of the most wonderful aspects of the digital age we live in. 😉 Glad you’re having fun.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Being a writer is a personal journey, but we have so many fellow travelers on the road with us. That’s a good thing!

  9. I really liked your post, because I’m going through a shift in what I do for cold, hard cash and am very happy to be able to combine this with my avocation. I have never thought about this before and felt very strange about living in two worlds – and suddenly there it was: the chance to make it happen. No matter which way you find, feeling whole in what you do seems the most important thing for me. Keep writing!

    • Congratulations! That sounds very exciting. I have found that my relationship with writing is always evolving – what I write, how I write it, whether I share it and how that happens – it’s always growing and I’m always learning and finding new opportunities to push myself just that much more out of my comfort zone. It can sometimes be scary, but mostly I love the way it invites me to step into being more of myself.

      Good luck in your new adventure!

  10. I’m trying to get back to my writing rhythm I lost in the past months and started working on this three-part short fiction idea I had last week. This post just gave me a huge motivation to keep doing what I do, despite of doubts I had in myself. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Jamie.:)

    • That’s so wonderful, Danica. Thanks so much for sharing that. It sounds corny, but it warms my heart to think that anything I’ve shared here might help inspire you to keep writing. That’s the best. Never give up. Enjoy the journey. It’s part of who you are.

  11. Right now I’m a just this girl who loves to write and when I discovered that writing is my specialty , I knew that writing was going to be part of who I am .I never realized that when I used to take AIMS in highschool , the writing test was always my favorite because that’s when I can get the opportunity to tell my opinion and ideas ! And apparently those ideas have to seem to make me pass that portion of AIMS and everyone knew that writing was something I was not only good at but they seem to like the way I write my words . In conclusion, I decided that I wanted to do something with my writing and hopefully in the future write books and such for which it will be an inspiration to the world . I want to make others feel that they’re not the only ones in this world who are feeling worthless and abandoned, I want to let them know that God loves them and for me to have a place for them in my heart ! Let me be their God ❤

    • You clearly have a passion for what you do and that’s half the battle. Now, you get to enjoy the part where you slowly discover where that journey will take you. Keep exploring and learning and enjoying the process and the creative art. Good luck!

      • I would recommend reading everything you can get your hands on. Read the kinds of stories you want to write. Read blogs and books about writing and publishing. Read about other people’s writing journeys. You can never go wrong with reading. 🙂

  12. Pingback: What is a “real” writer | writeandthrive

  13. I really like this post. My challenges include working to keep the bills paid and I do content writing as well. There is currently an immediate need to get the bills paid. However, my heart has so much to say; the reason I started blogging in the first place. I need to commit the time to my writing. I appreciate the article because it reinforces what many writers go through. Short stores appeal to me more than novels. After reading this, my desire to get busy writing is renewed. Thank you.

    • I’m so glad to play even a tiny part in anyone’s renewed desire to write. Thank you for sharing that.

      In life, the bills do need to come first, but I am always so grateful to have various outlets in which to share my real writing – this blog, my column, and a few Facebook groups … and when I take a writing class and get to collaborate with classmates on critiques. It’s good to have a place to put all the things your heart has to say. Very good.

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  15. Great post! Your ideas reminded me of a Podcast I recently listened to with the writer Eric Wilson. He’s recently finished a book called “Keeping it Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life” which goes against the idea that there is a ‘true self’ we always have to be focused on ‘upholding.’ Instead, he argues we have the capacity to ‘invent’ whatever identity we want for ourselves, and that invented identity is just as ‘authentic’ as the one we are told we have by other people. So if you want your identity to be ‘writer,’ it’s totally up to you to make that designation!

    • Hello, Brian.
      I will have to look up that book; it sounds really interesting. Actually, it also sounds like a great idea for a fiction story. 😉
      I do think we have WAY more power than we assume when it comes to creating our own reality. It’s something that’s worth playing with, at the very least.

      Thanks for coming by!

  16. Amazing article Jamie. It’s funny that I just came across an article last night in which Sarah Jewett gave Willa Cather a similar advice in a letter. This advice ended in Willa Cather who was a profound yet frustrated journalist, write her first novel. Below is the link, you want to read. Writers working in writing jobs can relate to it very well and derive some hope out of it 🙂

    • Thank you so much for sharing that link. I don’t know how I missed that article! (I’m a big fan of Brain Pickings.) I loved how Popova describes Sarah JEwett’s letter to Willa Cather as just what the latter needed in order to “awaken from her trance of corporate productivity and revive her creative energies as a writer.”
      And, I can relate to the emotion behind Cather’s words, “The question of work aside, one has a right to live and reflect and feel a little.” So very true.

      Thanks again for connecting me to not only this essay, but also Cather’s work. I will be exploring her novels soon!

      • I’m glad you like it. I love Brain Pickings too, and it’s easy to get lost among so many great articles. I’m not a professional writer but I agree that in order to write freely we all need to “awaken from the trance” in one way or another. As writers, we all feel obstacles outside and within ourselves that keep us from realizing our creative potential.
        I’m also exploring more of Cather’s work ever since I cam across this article.

  17. So true! I would never come out and say I’m a,”writer,” if someone asks, because it’s not something I get paid to do. But I do believe, a writer, is what I am. Great article! I enjoyed this.

    • Very glad you enjoyed it, Amanda, And glad you believe that you are a writer, even if it’s not currently the thing your paid to do.
      Thanks for being here. 🙂

      • Part of me is sure I’ve written several posts about this, but another part of me is wondering if I’ve dodged the question and instead focused on the external story of when and how I got into the writing business. I’m going to have to think on this one, but I think the upcoming weekend edition might have a few clues – it’s my Top Ten Reasons I Love Writing list. 😉

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    • Steal away! 😉
      I’m glad you enjoyed my rambling. Most of the time, I’m writing to sort things out for myself. Not always the best idea to have an audience for such musings, but the chance to share my thoughts motivates me to write them down.

      Glad to “meet” you.

  20. Wow!! I completely agree with your concept of real job and writing life, they are two distinct things. Real job gives you money but it doesn’t really define you. All in all, an amazing article!! Enjoyed it!! 🙂

  21. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Writing is My “Real” Job | kali.m

  22. Very helpful post to continue exploring my motivations , where this writing … avocation started and where it’s leading. Someone told me that to begin telling myself “I’m a real writer” is a necessary first step.

    • I agree with the someone who told you that it’s important – critical, even – to tell yourself you’re a real writer. We need to grant our creative urges the validity they deserve, and not marginalize them as “nice to have.”

      Happy exploring!

  23. I’m so glad that someone was able to explain what real writing is. I’ve loved writing since I was young but was told not to turn it into a career because it wouldn’t pay well. Your article is amazing and a great motivation!

    • There are, actually, many writing markets that pay quite well, but it all depends on what kind of writing you want to do. 😉

      As for “real” writing, I’m glad you like my explanation and that you find that explanation motivating. I really believe that we need to flip our perceptions of what’s “real” and what’s not. It’s a tall order, no doubt, but one that I think can have life-changing consequences.

      Thanks for coming by! Happy “real” writing!

  24. Thank you for this most inspiring post!! I am as everyone already said motivated too by the explanation of “real” writing. I do feel like a real writer by heart. Just not there yet… calling myself a writer to the outside world. Where I come from and are, people around me does not think much about writing nor do they believe it is anything “real” to make a living from, but… I read these posts and blogs to be more inspired. Thank you for taking me one step closer.

    • Feeling like a real writer in your own heart is the first (and most important) step to being a “real” writer. Getting the outside world to recognize you as a writer is a secondary piece of the puzzle that’s nice to have, but not necessary.

      So gratified that you’re feeling inspired. Enjoy the journey!

  25. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Writing is My “Real” Job | Findig Myself

    • Interesting. What if making money by doing what you love isn’t an (immediate) option. What then? Or, do you believe that if you do what you love, you’ll inevitably make money?

      • Ooo. What I mean is do something you like, get good at it and if you could see yourself doing it every day, find a way to profit on it. If you need to hold a side job until it becomes profitable than thats what you gotta do cuz nothings instant in this world.

  26. I’ve been a writer for many years, but have been unable to turn it into my career. I’m hoping someday I’ll get there! This post was very inspiring. I often tell people I’m a retail supervisor when asked what I do and leave out the writer part. I’m going to have to change that!

    • Defining ourselves to ourselves is tricky business, but I believe it’s an important step to happiness. Whether or not you ever turn your writing into a career, you can still call yourself “writer.” I think we just need to take a broader perspective when it comes to defining “who” we are. Our jobs are too narrow a definition. There’s so much more to each of us than the tasks we perform in trade for money. So much more.

      Glad you came by, and I hope you do change things whenever it feels right to do so. 🙂

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  28. Reading this felt like rekindling a fire so intense, like a force so strong and like an emotion so deep. This moved me. Writing has always meant to be this way, an extension of our pure souls; a manifestation of our thoughts and outlooks. I wish to pursue this beautiful art in all its splendour. Everything that you wrote drips with truth. Writing in itself, is a life I’m blessed to have. And I’m sure we all are. Here’s a sincere acknowledgment of life as I know it- writing.

  29. The word “real” could not have been dissected better. I guess until we come to ask ourselves some serious questions about ourselves and come up with some serious answers, there is a good chance that reality will continue to be a mirage to us.

    • Thank you. I am all for asking ourselves serious questions, but making sure we still have fun answering them. Discovering and creating “reality” should be a form of play, I think … something that springs from our creative urges.

  30. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Writing is My “Real” Job | Jacci DeVera

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  33. It’s been a long time I quit writing but recently one incident change my whole concept n forced mee to pen it down, I don’t write to motivate anyone I just write when I start thinking n get sensitive too fact’s which I try to ignore

    • Thanks for sharing that. Your reason for writing is probably one of the most “pure” ones – just needing to sort things out for yourself. I think even people who write for a living are still, in one way or another, pursuing that same “sorting out” through their work. It just takes different forms sometimes.

      Glad you’re writing again.

  34. Pingback: Writing is My “Real” Job | Tsami's Blog

  35. Reblogged this on Quoth The Wordsmith and commented:
    You all know I’m not much of a reblogger, but once in a while, I find something that I have to share, and this, this is one of those things.

    Us writers often struggle with what to call ourselves, what to tell people that we do, how to explain that writing can actually be a job, and how to avoid probing and awkward questions about our writing.

    That is enough to deal with, but it can cause us to question ourselves, and this post explains exactly why we shouldn’t.


  36. I am so happy that someone wrote about this. I can relate 100%! Every time someone asks what I plan on doing after graduating, and give the answer writer, they always give respond with something along the lines of “No, I meant your real job.” Hey, buddy, I dare you to walk up to J.K. Rowling and say, “No, no, I know you’re an author.But what’s your real job?”

    • You know what’s funny? Think about how much of our commerce, culture, and society would break down if there weren’t any writers. No journalists, no bloggers, no writers of text books or training materials, no storytellers, etc. Writing is still our primary form of communication. It’s how we connect with others and connect the dots between ideas. Without writers, a LOT would fall apart … disconnect. I wouldn’t want to live in THAT world.

  37. This touched part of my soul! Writing that comes from heart reaches others’ hearts! Thank you for being a “Writer” thank you for connecting with your real calling. I’m so glad someone out there can think of life away from “materialistic stuff”. Amazing piece. Loved it!

    • Thank you so much, Noor. Your words encourage me to continue sharing these thoughts, even when I’m not sure how they will be received. It’s tough to step outside the materialistic confines of the “Real” world, but the older (and hopefully wiser!) I get, the more sense it makes to me to do things for love at least as much as you do them for money. It’s not an easy balance, but it’s one that’s worth pursuing.

      Appreciate you being here.

  38. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Writing is My “Real” Job | Diaries of a Saudi girl

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  40. Your post has touched a nerve with me. I had to take several pauses and step away to think. I’m not sure you intended it, but everything you said was validating, a call to arms even. I have said I’m a writer in the past, proudly grinning with certainty. The sting of being laughed at seems to last far longer than it should. I’ve printed this and plan on hanging it above my desk. Every time I get near someone who makes my writing feel unimportant or small, I’m going to read again. If only to remind myself there are other writers who might understand the bravery, self-knowledge, and commitment required to stand up and say, “I am a writer.”

    • “A call to arms” … I like that. It’s not the first time a piece of mine has turned out that way. I guess I just get tired of hearing people’s creative efforts belittled. I’m honored to know that my words will be hanging above your desk as a when-needed shield against such belittling. We writers are a unique bunch, but that doesn’t make us “less” by any stretch. In fact, I’d wager it makes us “more” in most cases. I think writers are naturally seekers, and so we are also explorers and discoverers, and eventually teachers. These are, in my estimation, important jobs beyond all else.

      Thanks for being here. I enjoyed your “Little Mouse” post. I hope harmony continues to reign. 🙂

  41. This is one of the most amazing things I have read. So much of what you explain is the cold hard truth and is so inspirational! Thank you for inspiring myself and so many others!

  42. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Writing is My “Real” Job | smp19671

  43. Wow, what a great read. I’m just starting out in the writing world. I have read a lot of blogs but never really imagined it’s something I could do or, do well. I have started my own blog now and I’m surprised by how much I’m learning as I go. A part of me wants to delete the whole thing and start again but I’m worried I’ll just end up writing the same thing using different words.
    Thank you and it’s reading words like yours that
    keeps me going.

    • Congrats on launching your blog, and don’t worry about occasionally wanting to delete the whole thing and start from scratch – that’s par for the course and completely natural.

      Very glad to know that this post was helpful in some way. Thanks for being here!

  44. Not only beautiful, but eye opening and very creative. I was very much drawn into this blog and I really felt like I had the whole mental picture in my head as I kept going, I kept putting myself in these scenarios and I continuously asked myself the same questions. Reading these allow me to stay strong with my blogs and I only wish to improve my skills. You truly are an inspiration with this level of creativity. I personally enjoy blogging since it’s a great way of letting out the writer from within, it truly is exciting to know that I can touch peoples hearts and souls within my blogs, exactly the same as you had done with me.

    • Thank you. I am glad that my musings drew you in and inspired you to think through some of your own answers to these questions. On your writing journey, the surest path to improving your skills is a consistent practice. That, above all else, will move you toward your goals.

      Enjoy the adventure & thank you for being here.

    • Unfortunately, that is often the case, isn’t it? The definition of “vocation” is a calling, but I know only a rare few people who have the good fortune to doing work that they feel “called” to do. Most of us cobble together a career based on our available skills and resources. We make decisions based more on need and responsibility than on finding or crafting a “job” that speaks to our creative and “real” purpose. That’s just life, right?

      The battle, I think, comes in not giving up on your real purpose – your writing or painting or baking or singing or whatever – and succumbing entirely to the job that pays the bills. The challenge is to keep carving out pockets of time, space, and energy to nurture and cultivate the thing you love, even if it doesn’t now (and maybe never will) provide any financial return. It’s in accepting (even reveling in) the fact that just because we don’t earn cash for our writing, it is still a valuable part of who we are.

      So, you do the j-o-b and you pay the bills, but you make your life your own by never letting go of the creative expression that is uniquely yours and which brings you joy and fulfillment in ways no paycheck ever could.

      • that is the reason I started my blog….. to try to get back to writing. Writing has always helped me just like therapy. Getting words down on paper and getting it all out makes everything clearer. Granted, I haven’t written in so long that it all feels strange now, but hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things.

  45. So I guess telling other people I’m a real music writer is like coming out of the closet again; so it really should be much ado about nothing 😀 Thanks for thoughtful post!

    • I would love for us to evolve to a place where it’s common for a person to be asked not just, “What do you do?” but also, “What do you do, and who are you?” I’d like for it to be a common (and accepted scenario) that each of us has a job we do to pay the bills and then our “Real Work” that helps us express ourselves, make the world a better place, etc. Two parts of one person – and the money-making one isn’t automatically elevated above the other one. That’s what I’d like to see.

      And – yes – much ado about nothing. 😉

  46. Hi Jamie. I am a writer too —and I got to say it because of this article. I started blogging because I needed to write separately from my profession. It is is taking more time than I expected but it motivates me everyday. So you could say your article struck a chord with me.

    • I also have wound up spending more time here on this blog each week than I ever expected I would, but I am happy about that. For me, that extra time spent means that I am – as you said – motivated to get myself here and do the writing work. And, that’s a good thing. 🙂

      Glad the piece struck a chord. Happy writing!

  47. For me writing is about self reflection. I write down my dreams. I write myself letters to remind myself of things I don’t want to forget. I write cards to my loved ones to tell them how I feel. I loved your definition of real as everything about yourself that can not be stolen. My writing is real and full of feelings, dreams and intentions.

    • I began my writing adventure by keeping journals – daily journals, dream journals, nature journals, idea journals, poetry journals (very bad poetry). 😉 I still keep lots of journals, but my writing has also branched out into other, more public spaces. No matter what I write, I will never tire of journaling. I love the feeling of being alone with my thoughts – having the time and a space to reflect and muse. It’s such an important part of how I process my life. I could never give it up.

  48. If I were to quote each line in this post that spoke to me, I’d wind up copying all of it into this comment box. Since that’s probably not a good idea, I’ll stick with this: “Your job is about doing; your writing is about being.”

    I do at my job all day, every day. Then I come home and there are a million other little jobs that need doing. But the time when I’m happiest is when I’m writing, whether I’m being me or one of a cast of characters.

    This was an utterly marvelous post. Thank you so much for writing it! 🙂

    • I can so relate to “doing” all day at your job and then taking care of the million other little jobs that need doing at home. Writing is like a lovely oasis of being in the middle of an ocean of doing. It’s a small, quiet safe haven where we can put aside all our external tasks and settle into our internal writing world.

      Thanks so much for the kind words about the post. So glad you enjoyed it. I had fun writing it!

      • Writing is like a lovely oasis of being in the middle of an ocean of doing.
        Yes! Exactly! And I don’t know about you, but it’s an oasis I’d like to spend a lot more time in. 🙂

  49. Reblogged this on Toast and Tea Together and commented:
    “Your vocation is said to be your professional calling. It is your career, a serious pursuit that in a perfect world is specially suited to your specific talents and skills. An avocation, on the other hand, is a hobby, something you do outside of your “real” work. The subtext here is that it’s something you do for fun, in part because you’re not good enough to make a living at it. Most writers think of their writing as an avocation.”

    This is a must-read. I’m planning to give up my day job to focus on my writing. I’ve always wanted to write my own manuscript and the only thing that has been holding me back is my current job. I’m really glad I came across this post. ❤

  50. This is honestly amazing! Even though I’m a student I can relate to half of this. Whenever people ask me what one of my favorite things to do is, I tell them writing and singing . They usually say “No I mean something real, like football.” I’ve never really understood that concept. I’m glad I found this post.
    Allie x

    • I would love to hear someone explain to me how football is more “real” than writing. 😉

      I’m glad you found the post, too. Thanks for being here.

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  53. Thank you – I loved this post. I’ve only just taken up writing myself, after far too many years of telling myself ‘yes I can, but others may not think so’! Now why on earth have I done that to myself? Some years ago I completed a PhD in History and, I suppose, I took on the academic snobbery of viewing writing for pleasure (novels, short stories, poetry) as secondary to writing important (?) tracts on esoteric thought.
    I don’t think that way anymore. I use my blog to practice writing fiction, poetry and other things that I want to say, and I’m enjoying it. I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, and emerged a ‘winner’, having completed over 50,000 words. I now have a full first draft of something I’m really proud of – not something publishable as yet, but it will be, eventually. I love writing poetry, something I was rather scared of doing to be honest. Now, try and stop me!
    But, if anyone asks what I do, I still tell them about my totally uninteresting job and then, rather apologetically, mention that I also write. ‘Have you been published’? is usually the first question, the answer to that is no. Conversation then moves on to something else. It’s rather sad really, as I enjoy writing and am now confident enough to talk about it, but my friends are mainly academics who value publication above almost anything else.
    However, my goal is to publish this coming year, and to write another novel. I’m happy to be following my dream at last and only wish I could afford to give up the day job to focus on my writing.
    Brilliant post – thank you.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Ruth. I think it’s wonderful that you have found your way to your writing despite the obstacles that were in your way. Somehow, that makes the fact that you’ve finally arrived at a place where you are happily pursuing the writing you enjoy most even sweeter.

      I’m sorry that your friends and colleagues do not value your unpublished writing the same way you do, but hopefully that will come in time. It’s hard to create a shift in such an entrenched perception. When you have lived so long, as an academic for example, with one mindset, it’s tough to stand that perception on its head and see things from a different angle.

      I hope that one of these days you see an opportunity to share with a friend how you feel about the writing that you do and that they can come to appreciate, through your eyes and experience, the intrinsic value of that work, even before it’s published.

      Thanks again for sharing your story. I really enjoyed it.

  54. Pingback: Is Writing a Real Job? | Life, living, work and play

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  57. “Your vocation is said to be your professional calling…. I think that we have the idea of “real” seriously backwards.” I too want to thank you for such a great post. I am new to blogging, and did not consider myself to be a “real” writer. You are spot on with all the reasons I considered my writing to be nothing more than a guilty pleasure, that eventually got replaced with other life distractions because it was not on the top of my “If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense” list. This post has inspired me in so many ways.

    • I’m so glad that the post has inspired you. 🙂
      I’m always battling the “If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense” mindset … hence this post, which is (at least in part) a pep talk to myself. We writers face a tough battle when it comes to justifying the time we spend on our craft to others and to ourselves when it’s not raking in the cash. I have to remind myself constantly of the truth I wrote down in this post. Constantly.

      Good luck on your new blogging adventure! Have fun!

  58. Thank you for writing these beautiful words on writing which is the most important thing of my life. I completely share your point of view on how writing affects you ( when you stay up ’til late at night to write and you feel so excited! I mean, when I write I cannot go to bed because I feel sorry to leave my characters that have become my new friends and mates)…it’s something that not everybody could understand…and when I see somenone else feels the same things, I feel an enormous sense of joy and gratitude. I also admit that I have been hiding my dream of becoming a good writer for ages…when someone asked me I usually said..”well I’d like to become a journalist ” because it seemed to me it was a “more real” job than being simply a writer…even if anyway, it’s writing as well ..isn’it? I’ d like to be both the two things, I feel they’re part of myself. I couldn’t help living without writing!! (I hope you’ll excuse me for my bad English…I’m studyig it 😉 ) Byeee! Thanks again!

    • Thank you for sharing your experience.
      You’ve hit on something that I (and I think many other writers) do – “hiding” our true writing ambitions behind more “respectable” writing vocations like journalist, copywriter, etc. I’m guilty of falling into that trap, but I’m trying to climb out of it. I do agree that it’s possible to be more than one kind of writer – a journalist and a novelist, a copywriter and a poet. I guess it’s all a bit of a balancing act.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

      PS – I think you did a great job with your English!

  59. This post it amazing. I never feel like I can call myself a writer because I don’t get paid to do so. Can’t wait to see what else you are going to write. If you have the chance, take a look at my blog girlwithapen93.wordpress.com thanks

    • We are trained from a young age to equate value with money – cold hard cash – but there is so much in life that is more valuable than that, including writing.

      Thanks for being here. 🙂

  60. I feel like I am Writer too. Yes, I don’t get paid for writing, but I love this job. Writing is my job, my hobby and my studies too, in fact, it is everything for me! I don’t write up journals or reviews, I love to draw the psychological views of a human into words! I want to share my views with the world and somewhere create a space for me. I am so inspired by reading this,you are a great writer, looking forward to read your further post!
    P.S :- I am slowly crawling on my way to become an official writer, I mean that I am currently working on my first book which is a love story, hope everything goes good for it! 🙂

  61. This is such a true post! I am a young writer. I have written four novels but never got them published because I thought they weren’t good enough, and my latest one is taking me AGES to write because my parents don’t take me seriously. They yell at me for always being on my laptop, when they go to work and sit in offices everyday. I just don’t get paid for my work.
    I have just started a book review blog if anyone wants to check it out:

    • Sounds like you have a great work ethic if you’re already working on your fifth novel. Good for you!

      Many people can’t wrap their heads around the writer’s constant need to tap away at a keyboard. Mostly, I just feel bad for them that there is nothing they love to do so much that they would do it even if they weren’t getting paid. 😉

      Thanks for being here & good luck with your book review blog!

  62. Pingback: Your Favorite 2015 “Weekend Edition” and “Short and Sweet” Writing Posts | Live to Write – Write to Live

  63. What a remarkable piece of writing – I cannot thank you enough for this! I have been struggling with identifying myself as a writer lately and this article may be just the answer I was looking for. It shed light on many things I reflected upon lately such as the standard definitions of “work”, “job”, and “passion” or “hobby”. I found your message motivating and inspiring and in alignment with my own beliefs.

    • Hello. Thank YOU for such a lovely comment. It is always good for me to hear that others understand where I’m coming from and that something I’ve written helps them in some way. I’m always relieved to know I’m not the only one. 😉

      Thanks again for being here!

      • It is wonderful indeed to know other people are going through or have gone through what’s troubling you. You write about things that matter to me and that I can relate to so I’ll be looking forward to new posts. Have a most wonderful 2016!

  64. Pingback: Weekend Edition – A Writer’s New Year | Live to Write – Write to Live

  65. Very inspiring! I think one of the most important actions I’ve taken after deciding to start being serious about my writing is actually call myself a writer. Sure, there are nuances to what that actually entails – do I write fiction, white papers, blogs, what? – but by defining myself as a writer, I open myself up to any of those possibilities, and more! It’s not about how much I make, or what I do on a daily basis – it’s what I do that makes me feel alive and worthwhile. My blog echoes that sentiment wholeheartedly: Why write if my life doesn’t depend on it?

    • There is power in the names of things, right? 🙂
      And, as you point out, “writer” encompasses a wide range of skills and practices and output. I like the idea of all the flexibility – that openness of the definition. It means I’ll never have any boring days!

      TKS for stopping by & for sharing.

  66. Pingback: A Writer’s Gotta Read | Matt Writes for Life

  67. Reblogged this on Authordom, or There About and commented:
    This is a great inspirational post. I think that now, after a long while and a whole life change (giving up my job and moving to France), I’m finally starting to say ‘writer’ when people ask me my job!

    Hi, by the way. I’m Riley, and I’m a writer 😉 What do you do?

  68. This is an absolutely fantastic article! And one that resonates so well with my own feelings. Thank you for putting into words so succinctly how I feel about writing. For too long I have shied away from saying “I want to be a writer” for fear of sounding as if it is an unattainable whim, and even now I blog, I have tried to write ‘proper content’, based on perceptions of what I believe will get me noticed etc.

    Enough of that! After reading this, I will follow my true calling and write what I really want to write, and settle in for the adventure.

    • Thanks so much for such an enthusiastically supportive comment. I am glad that this post helped you settle into your own “calling” and way of writing, and I wish you all the best on your adventure! 🙂

  69. Pingback: Writing is My “Real” Job | firewify

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  71. Pingback: Short and Sweet Advice for Writers: Remember. The World Runs on Stories. | Live to Write – Write to Live

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