Writing Is an Easy Career? Says Who?

Did you expect writing to be an easy career, filled with glory? I was reading an article in the guardian called “You think writing’s a dream job? It’s more like a horror film” by Tim Lott that gives the impression that many people do (which I will not quote at all to avoid any risk of filling out the guardian’s copyright permission page, paying rights, blah, blah, blah).

The gist of the article (which is quite a decent read) is that a large percentage of British people polled said that they would like to be an author, and that, in the author’s opinion, that’s mostly because they think about having flexible hours, getting big checks, becoming famous, and generally having an easy job.

But you, I, and the author of that article know that writing is hard work, complicated work, and work that sometimes requires 40+ hour work weeks – those who have an additional full-time job may work between 60 and 80. And I have no argument with the author on that point. I completely agree that writing is hard work, not an easy payoff, and something you mainly do if 1. it’s your only marketable skill, and 2. you feel some strange interior need to do it.

The question I guess I have is whether people really get into writing because they think it’ll be all glory, big checks, and lazy days. Do people really expect writing to be an easy job?

I ask because I didn’t. I don’t see how you could if you know anything about writing.

Ok. I take that back. If you’re naturally good at writing, if you think it’s easy (FYI: I hate that word. Easy how? For whom? It’s such a biased catchall.), and you’re very ignorant of the business side of it, then, I can see how you might think you landed in the cream of careers – Writing is easy, so of course I can make a living on it!

*cough snicker cough*

There’s also the fact that until you tackle your first novel, you don’t really understand how complex the process is. I know I didn’t, and I honestly expected it to be pretty damn complex. Even after finishing several drafts of it and starting the next, I’m still learning about my process and how to improve on my novel writing. And that’s only the writing end of it. That’s a long way from making it a career.

So for people who like writing or are good at writing, ignorance of all the aspects of the work could be an excuse.

For other people, though, I’m not sure ignorance is enough of an explanation. Willful ignorance, maybe. I’m not sure how people who couldn’t stand to write a short story or poem for class could possibly think writing was an easy job unless they’re simply choosing to ignore the fact that they don’t like to write.

Or do they somehow think that writing is solely a natural ability? A gift from God? Do they think the words simply flow out, that authors spend ten minutes a day to write 1,000 words?

Really, if people think that not only writing but making a living at it is easy, where does that thought come from?

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