Writer’s advice: do you want to earn a living? Dec. 2013

OK, today is another ‘advice’ day.  For writers: there are amateurs and there are professionals.  There are only some people who are able to transition from doing something for fun into being really effective professionals and still like their job.  In 2011 or so, I did a little casual online research about writers because I got so fed up with seeing journalists earning a living and novelists claiming that it is impossible to earn a living by writing and reading articles about rich novelists.  Obviously, something isn’t true and something else is. 

There are channels of writing which seem to be mainly ‘professional only’ writers.  These people very often majored in journalism or communications and worked exclusively as professional writers after completing their educations.  Others went into advertising.  There are numerous other writers who got jobs in the industry despite having studied something else because they needed jobs.  They could stand it; so they stuck with it.  There are people in publishing who ended up being regularly paid to be editors although that was not what they initially had in mind. 

There are journalists who still hide and cry in bathrooms because they wanted to be short story writers or novelists but gave that all up so they could feed their families writing nonfiction in a corporate atmosphere.  Most of them are grateful to be earning a living although this has not turned out the way they had hoped when they were very young and idealistic.  Now and then, one of those people, who has been earning a living writing for many years will finally have a break through with a publishing company that accepts one of their books.  Some of those do go on to become famous authors rather than only respectable article writers.  They cry tears of joy more than sorrow if that happens. 

There are other types of success stories in the industry: the truth is not just that everyone who tries fails nor that everyone who goes for it wins.  There are hordes of writers who manage to get something published here and there, and get paid sometimes.  Most of those people always earn their living doing something else.  A lot of that type of success can be judged as failure and as success.  If we look at it as if it were a test in school when A is best and C is passing but not great (this is not the case with telc, by the way, in telc C means fluent in a language, A is only a beginner and B is conversational/intermediate)…then a lot of writers do C & B work, which often means it doesn’t yield a middle class income but they get some credits, some experience, real pay and all of that but nothing like the rich people who do the equivalent of somehow ‘acing the whole thing’ and ending up not just rich but famous and beloved for having produced really wonderful, powerful, excellent stories. 

I think that’s enough for today.

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