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Write justify

It's difficult to get family and friends to take writing seriously as “work” when you're not getting paid. Never mind that the IRS counts your expenses as business costs as long as you can show that you're seriously pursuing a career in writing.

Staring off into space while sitting on the recliner with my computer in my lap doesn't look like work, even though in my head my characters are running for their lives from a drug dealer with a gun, or locked in a battle of wills. Or locking lips.

Writing at all hours of the day and night, interspersed with errands, work outs, and reading doesn't look like work, even though I may spend more hours working on my book than I used to spend at work.

Reading blogs, socializing on Twitter, and lunching with other writers doesn't look like work, even though I'm learning new things about my craft, networking, and brainstorming about my plot.

I recently sprung the following analogy on my husband:

Being a new writer is like starting a new business. You print the business cards, furnish an office, create a web page, and open for business. That doesn't mean people are knocking down your door ready to hire you. It takes time to cultivate contacts and make a name for yourself in the business. People you market to today may not hire you for months or even years. If you're going to be successful as an entrepreneur you have to take the long view.

Writing is like that, but the view is longer. Most authors wait 3-12 years to get published. All the while, they are working on their craft, networking and learning the business, submitting their work and getting feedback. With enough effort and patience, maybe one of those editors or agents they connected with will give them the call.

The jury is out on whether my husband agreed with the analogy, but he hasn't taken back my writing fund or demanded that I get a “real job”, so I think I'm good for now. 😉

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  1. Christine


    I think most authors wait longer than 3.5 years — but then I’ve passed that benchmark 🙂

    I am going to share your analogy with my darling geek because sometimes he needs to be reminded that this isn’t a hobby for me. It’s a career that will pay me one day to write about my peeps in my head.

    Great post!

    • Reply

      Yeah. I said 3-12, but I’ve seen varying statistics. 7-11 seems to be the sweet spot, so you’re not there yet. 😉

      I started with the salesperson analogy. 3-6 mos of calling on people to start getting business, but I liked the entrepreneur analogy better. I’m all for anything that will help you keep writing!

  2. Reply

    I showed this post to my husband – I’m not sure if he buys it either. Thanks for the try, though. I’ve never done any better. 🙂

  3. Curtis


    Have you had the joy of telling people what you “do.”
    ” I’m a writer.” Do you remember the look?

    I’m almost convinced that people who are not writers have few if any reference points at all for what it is. My sweet wife is also a writer. When I’m in that zone she knows. When she is in that zone I know.

    My first wife was not a writer and resented the whole process. I published a book with Guideposts. I might as well have been fabricating a boat anchor in the basement.

    Writing is not only a job it is a necessary job. How many people who read find in their reading a wealth of …. You make the list. It is all found in reading. Writers, that would be us, provide that wealth. We put the black ink on white paper. Between the lines and through our voices the wealth is offered up. There is a spirit there. More is being said than even we realize. Writing. A job or a Calling? Try not writing for a while and see what happens. 🙂

    • Reply

      Curtis: I definitely know the look. 😉 I love how you look at writing as a necessary process. I was a reader long before I seriously considered writing. My life would be less joyful without books. And like you said, writers provide that joy.

      For me, it’s definitely a calling. One I ignored for years, but a calling nonetheless. I’m glad you found someone who understands that. My hubby can’t relate, and I joke about him, but he’s always supportive. Thanks for chiming in!

  4. Curtis


    “…but he’s always supportive.’
    That’s all the matters.

    However, I have learned that the source of creativity is never named. We only discuss the process/product of creativity. What I learned as a V.P. Administrative type is that my creativity for awhile was expressed in a different medium– organization. I mastered the art/ process of herding cats. 🙂

    During that stint I learned that creativity is creativity whether expressed in writing a book or organizing to meet accreditation standards.

    Once that jump is made we can all understand / appreciate each other more. I Think. I hope. Maybe a little bit. 🙂

    Well, I’m just full of it today.

    • Reply

      Curtis: I agree with your take on creativity. I never felt like a “creative” type, but I realized it all went to problem-solving in a manufacturing or work environment. Now the problems I solve involve characters and plotting.

      And I love this: “Once that jump is made we can all understand / appreciate each other more.” Nicely said.

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