satire, fiction and humor, writing

What It’s REALLY Like To Be A Professional Writer

The number-one question I get asked by people who find out what I do for a living is “What is it like to be a writer?”

And I…I don’t know.

I HAVE NO IDEA

I’VE NEVER NOT BEEN A WRITER

THIS IS MY ONLY SKILL

Which is to say, sure, let’s talk about my amazing writer lifestyle.

I Work From Home

This one was a lot more impressive before COVID-19. Now, a bunch of people who did not previously work from home are now working from home. And everyone is realizing that it’s actually not as cool as y’all dreamed back when you were trying to envision yourselves living my unattainably glamorous writer life.

The primary features of working from home for me, A Writer, are:

  • Cats
  • Self-direction, aka “being able to get work done without someone breathing down my neck”
  • Not wearing pants

I’m Kind of My Own Boss, I Guess?

The truth is, no one who sells their labor for a living is their own boss. You may call your boss by a different name than “boss.” I call mine “clients” or “editors.” But I still have people who expect me to deliver certain things by certain deadlines and who are varying levels of helpful to me in that endeavor.

What I don’t have is someone to manage the details of how I deliver those things by those deadlines. I don’t have anyone who expects me to be at my desk at a certain time, or who makes sure I have the tools I need, or who barks at me if I stand at the water cooler too long. I don’t have someone who processes my payroll or deducts my taxes or keeps track of my healthcare spending, either. I have to do all those things myself.

In other words, being a professional writer is having to do all the work of both labor and management without getting any of the benefits of being the latter. But if you are a hermit slash control freak (like me), it’s an ideal setup.

“You Should Be Writing” Memes Can Go to Hell

Judging by how much they post and share “you should be writing” memes, a lot of amateur or aspiring writers seem to find them extremely helpful.

I’m not one of them.

The reason I don’t take “you should be writing” memes seriously is because my writing time is scheduled. Always. I write for about six hours a day – four in the morning and two in the evening.

If it’s writing time, I don’t need to hear that I “should” be writing, because I am writing. If it’s not writing time, I don’t need to hear that I “should” be writing, because I should not be writing – I should be doing whatever that time is for, like running errands or cleaning my house or playing Skyrim or having hot sex with my spouse.

This, by the way, is my number-one piece of advice for aspiring writers who want to be actual writers. Schedule your writing time, and then show up to it like you would to any other obligation.

If you don’t need “you should be at work during your shift” memes, you don’t need “you should be writing” memes, either.

I Eat Food, I Guess?

Food has actually been one of the hardest parts of being a full-time writer for me. I like my zone. I do not like interrupting my zone to tend to the needs of my body, especially when it wants food again, ugh, I just fed you *checks watch* four whole hours ago.

Some of my favorite food hacks:

  • Eat the same things every day, if you want. It significantly reduces the brain power I have to waste on food.
  • Think macros, not meals. As long as I get carbs, fat and protein in every Instance of Putting Food in My Facehole, I’m good.
  • Leftovers are your friend. Eat your friend.

Sometimes I get more creative with the making of food items. Sometimes I blog about them. Blogging about food generally leads to regrets and is not recommended, unless you are not me. Then you do you.

I Mess Around on Twitter Quite a Lot

To the onlooker, I appear to mess around on Twitter too much. Indeed, one may wonder how I get any writing done at all. (This is why people insist on sending me “you should be writing” memes.)

In fact, I do a lot of prewriting and field-testing of ideas on Twitter. I love Twitter because I can brain-dump whatever ideas I’m kicking around into the void, and the void tells me which ones have traction.

I don’t know why you all enjoy 280-character political shitposting so much, but here we are. Also muffin recipes. And that time I broke my own notifications. And making fun of my cats.

I Live in a House and Own a Car

Like a lot of Americans, I too live in a house and own a car.

The car is extremely lonely thanks to the need to quarantine. “Why am I stuck in this garage?” my car asks. “I’m not the one who will get COVID and die if I leave the house.”

If you also live in a house and have a car, congratulations! You are two steps closer to living a glamorous writer lifestyle just like me.

If you don’t live in a house and/or own a car, maybe you are one of those writers who doesn’t live in a house or own a car. Those writers also exist!

Have more questions about what it’s like to be a writer? Drop me a line or maybe a tip. After all, I glamorously require money to buy food in order to survive! Livin’ the dream!

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