For today’s opinion, I was reading this on Gawker the other day and I found it interesting and particularly relevant if you’re looking to being a writer full-time.
It was interesting, particularly when they mentioned how Buzzfeed writers got all this flak for the very tone-deaf Buzzfeed video they put out. (I’m not going to give them clicks but just look it up.) That led to a look at how there’s a separation between the two sides, and how there’s less of a need for “just” writers out there and more of a need for content-producers and the creative type people.
But people are going to still need writers. And that’s what this post is about: Being realistic as a writer.
Full disclosure: I don’t think I ever could be a full-time writer even if I had that kind of luxury because the flashes of inspiration and manic writing occur sporadically and if I sat around for that long of a time I’d rack up more hours in Mass Effect than words in my projects.
But let’s go back to the topic of realism.
Some of you that might read this are students.
Some of you that might read this have sons and daughters who are the “creative type”
This is just one person’s experience, but if it helps you in anyway, it’s going to be a job well-done.
When I got to college, I was given the option of majoring in English or Mass Communications. While English is the traditional route for most writers, I picked the latter option because of one key word: marketability. STEM degrees are great, but so are Liberal Arts degrees, and I will defend getting mine. The world needs artists and writers, but DO NOT automatically assume that someone’s going to pull up a truck of money and say, come write for me. And until that happens, you have to be ready to make yourself marketable. If your degree is in something specialized, make sure your extracurricular activities are generalized. My first job after college was doing editing work, which I had experience in because my extracurricular activities weren’t specialized.
I’ve wanted to be a lot of things since I was a kid. An inability to cope with putting dogs to sleep knocked vet out of the question. A bad knee meant no contract to play for Club America or represent El Tri. And I can’t sing, so, heavy metal vocalist is out of the question. Being a writer is the only thing that’s survived. I’m sure some of you feel the same way. So when you head into college, or whenever you’re looking at career options, know that if you do want to eventually make it as a writer, find a career that’s going to put a roof over your head while you write. No one ever becomes a best-selling author overnight. Hell, no one ever even gains recognition overnight.
That being said, beware of scam artists that do want to take advantage of that fact.
“Oh, c’mon, write this for me, it’s so easy for you! I’ll tell my friends what a great writer you are. You’ll get exposure.”
Musicians and painters deal with this thing all the time. You dictate the terms you want because last I checked, “exposure” wasn’t legal tender in this country. The exposure you get will come from your own contacts, and if you get frustrated that you have to work and don’t have time to cultivate those contacts, remember that it’s part of the deal. There are many open nights and poetry readings ongoing in Houston. I’d love to be able to make it to every single one of them, but I have work. And you know what? That’s okay. I’ll make it to the ones I can, and if I can’t, you know, too bad.
Total earnings outside of work, 2015-2016 i.e., “getting exposure”: -$30.00 ($20 on gas, $10 on cover for two different functions)
Don’t ever let anyone get on your case of working for free, or distract you with “oh, come work for us, we have such a cool environment, like, we play ping pong. Who needs benefits, right?!”
You know what you’re worth.