Writing: Career or Hobby?

Absolute Blank

By Lisa Olson (Boots)

When someone asks what you do, do you tell them about your day job, or do you say, “I’m a writer?” At what point can you consider yourself enough of a writer to say that? Ask yourself a few key questions. You may be surprised by your answers.

  1. How often do you write?
    1. Every day, of course!
    2. Once a week. I’m busy, but I set aside time.
    3. Once a month. My family and job come first.
    4. I can’t even remember the last time I wrote something.

Writers will tell you they write. Every day, without fail. It’s literally their job and they spend their time working on it. As a beginning writer you may have a job and a family, but if you are serious, you continue to carve out time every day to work on your writing.

  1. How do you spend your writing time?
    1. Writing. I’m focused and nobody can bother me.
    2. I’m interrupted a lot, but I still manage.
    3. I can’t focus, forget it.
    4. Wait… is that American Idol?

Writers spend their writing time writing and they let nothing and nobody get in the way of their ultimate goal. If they have families, they explain that now is “writing time” and they try to minimize the interruptions by enlisting the help of the significant other or the older child. If they have jobs, they sacrifice TV time for writing time. They make time work for them.

  1. Do you continue your writing education?
    1. Yes, I take classes all the time.
    2. Occasionally I’ll enroll in an online course.
    3. I read up on writing on the internet.
    4. I already know everything I need to know.

Taking classes either online or off can be crucial to your style and polish. As with any skill, it’s important to keep up on the latest developments and to continue educating yourself. If a class isn’t your style, try a subscription to a writing magazine or blog.

  1. Do you network?
    1. I attend conferences and am part of a local writing group.
    2. I go to book signings and readings.
    3. I have a friend who has a friend in the industry.
    4. I have a business card around here somewhere.

Knowing others in the business can help you get in there with them. There are all kinds of writing groups you can join both online and off. Try the local library or community college for some face-to-face time with your local stars. Writing communities online can offer a variety of interviews and chats with authors and agents imparting their wisdom. Conferences are the best way to meet those in the industry both behind the scenes and behind the words.

  1. Do you have the tools you need to succeed?
    1. I’m working on the next step.
    2. I’ve researched and know what I need.
    3. I have an idea what to do, but I’m not ready.
    4. I have to do more than write?

If you don’t research what you need, you could end up looking unprofessional. Know the next step in your drive to reach your goal and make sure you have what you’ll need to reach that level. If you’re querying an agent, have a great query ready to go and a synopsis ready in case they ask for it. If you’re submitting to a contest be sure to read all the guidelines and have a small biography of yourself ready to go in case you win.

  1. What kind of writer are you?
    1. It’s a job—I work on it every day.
    2. It’s a part-time job—I work on it, but only when I have the time.
    3. It’s a long-term goal—I want it, but I’m not doing all I can to achieve it.
    4. It’s a hobby—I have fun with it, but I’m not as serious as I could be.

So, what are you telling people you do?

Final Poll Results