Being a professional writer is a strange, yet satisfyingly wonderful thing. You have the ability to convey your ideas – no matter how far-fetched they may be – through a meaningful platform. Your words can be emotionally charged, taking a reader through hypnotic highs and sobering lows, mesmerising veracities and striking uncertainties. And the pictures you paint through stringing together a series of characters and letters can inspire, shake, and enlighten a reader.
Sounds bloody poetic and ever-so philosophical, doesn’t it?
Undoubtedly, it is. So much so, that I imagine fellow writer-readers just went up a couple rungs on their imaginary ego ladders. However, all of that comes crashing down the moment you announce to a stranger what you actually do for a living. Something weird, possibly a rupture in the social interaction sphere of the brain – an internal nip slip you might say – occurs when they make the connection between the fact that you – a person standing before them – are a living, breathing… (Don’t say it too loudly) writer. The mechanical failure in their cerebral cortex, which is now quite apparent, causes them to blurt out things they might not say to a non-writer. Some become instant experts and are more than willing to offer career advice – Y’know, self-publishing on a blog is where the money is! Some offer literary advice – People love Zombies/Vampires/Unicorns! And some, well, they just feign interest and ask whether you have a blog that they can check out… never.
While questions or comments like this would make any writer want to perform a facepalm of epic proportions, there a number of questions that, quite frankly, make us want to rage.
Regardless of whether you are speaking to an agency writer or a novelist, here are some of the things you need to stop saying.
Sooo…. What’s Your Real Job?
Please, kind sir and/or madam, do inform me on what constitutes a ‘real job?’ Is it sitting at a desk all day, clicking buttons and filling forms to secure a weekly salary for my dull, monotonous life? Is that the current social norm? Sorry, I think I’ll chase my own dream.
The last time I checked, there are a considerable number of people who, I don’t know, make their living off publishing books, freelance writing gigs, blogging and more; generating enough to support themselves, even to flourish. Sounds like a pretty real job to me.
It’s Great Exposure/It’s For Your Portfolio
Much like any other career, when you’re fresh faced and keen to learn, you’ll do anything for potential exposure, connections, or simple development. There comes a point in your career where ‘exposure’ simply isn’t enough because, well, girl gotta’ make that paper. Exposure opportunities lead to more exposure opportunities. You end up hating the word exposure. Damn you exposure! Before you realise it, your finely tuned talent is traded away like a pitiful handful of spare change. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when exposure merry-go-round can be beneficial, especially if you’re branching outside of your literary comfort circle; however, those exposure cheques can’t be cashed in and turned into dollars.
You, as a professional who may contract a writer for a hot project, should know that writers work tirelessly for years in order to perfect our words. If you want an amazing, engaging, fresh, informative piece of content that benefits you and your business, but not the writer, then sorry but you’ll have to pay its worth.
Which leads to my next point…
I Could Just Send This to Another Country and Get the Same Quality for $1
Good! Be my guest. You’ll likely receive gobbledygook that you’ll probably think is genius because all the words look like they are in the right place AND there’s all that fancy keyword nonsense. Looks great. After a while, you’ll start to realise that your ROI isn’t what you hoped for, your audience is practically non-existent (they probably don’t even really know what you do), and you’ve been pushed down the ranks of the almighty Google results page. But it will never occur to you that the issue might be with your less-than inspiring content because you’ve got too much pride and you were titled with top-dog of the office for scoring it for a dollar. When you do realise that your website/blog/whatever content needs re-working, let’s talk numbers.
Can’t You Just Whip Something Up in Like Ten Minutes?
Because I’m a creative person, right? I just turn my creativity switch to words-are-go and a technicolour fountain of perfectly composed letters magically pours out.
Nope. Just nope.
Writing takes time, research, careful thought, and a strong desire not to procrastinate.
When you’re not writing for yourself (i.e. an agency), there’s an intensive process one must go through to ensure that what you’re writing is going to resonate with the clients’ brand and correlating audience. Once again, this involves consultations, research, strategy (if there is one – and there better be), perfecting the tone and style, drafts, more drafts, final drafts – all the drafts – editing, tracking, and ongoing consultations.
I’m A Writer Too – I Wrote a Short Story Once…
Cool story, bro. I once played a cracking game of Rugby, does that make me a rugby player?
Define writer: Computer says, a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job, occupation, or for enjoyment on a regular basis.