Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Writer by Day/Writer by Night: The Good Side of Writing for a Living

We meet again, blog readers.

As promised yesterday, I have some fresh-baked optimism for you today. Ah, writing: the cause and solution of all my problems. I love words so much I write them all day at work and then all night at home while I gaze lovingly at the shiny red cover of Catching Fire on my end table.

If you want to catch up you can read yesterday’s post about the bad side of writing for a living. If you want to skip to the good stuff, here you go: the very best parts of getting paid to write:
  • I get to write off books as research. Other write-offs: felt-tip pens, writing classes, and laptops (basically, my favorite stuff).
  • My co-workers love stationery and coffee and poking fun at the unintended hilarity of bad grammar just as much as I do. An office-mate stumbled into my office early one Wednesday with a freshly printed manuscript and said, “I love the smell of toner in the morning.” Two. Shea.
  • Writer’s block is for amateurs. I can just imagine my boss’s face if I told her that I couldn’t write a thing today. It wouldn’t be a nice face; I’ll tell you that. When I was a waitress, I never had server’s block. As a teacher, I never had instructor’s block. Paid writers learn not to block their writing, not if they want to get paid anyway.
  • Seriously, the best thing? You just learn things when you write, edit, and are edited on a daily basis. We all learned a few things just by listening, and I guarantee that you are harboring some incorrect belief. Maybe it’s the difference between stationery and stationary, or principal and principle. It’s not your fault. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to know everything about the English language, but I also know that you pick up a lot of knowledge about craft when it’s your bread and butter.
So the good side is that my whole world is words. I see punctuation and margins and fonts EVERYWHERE. When you dedicate your whole life to something, when you immerse yourself, you can’t help but remember names. You can’t help but wake up and think, what will I write today? It’s not about work-life balance anymore; it’s about work-life blend. Writing day and night is extreme multi-tasking.

So how many of you write by day and by night? What do you absolutely love about getting paid to write?


  1. I don't write officially by day, but it's a big part of my job.
    Today I'm finishing a contract I had to write for our school customers who will be using as an exclusive uniform provider. And then I get to create all of our marketing materials and flyers, and all the website descriptions.
    The bad thing is, nobody edits it but me so I don't get too much outside feedback.

  2. Megan,

    Sounds like writing for pay to me.

    To be clear, I do write some fiction for work, but I also write nonfiction, instructional content, proposals, and book summaries, and I copy edit like a mofo.

    We can't all be writing novels for a living, but I'm working on it.

    The point is - even this kind of writing is helpful to an aspiring novelist.

  3. You know I'm jealous of your grammar and punctuation skills! I think I need to go back and take sixth grade English again. I think your job sounds so fun.

  4. Oh, it's lovely. Makes me all fuzzy and tingly. I didn't read the "bad side", which is for the best. :)

  5. Okay, the toner in the morning thing cracked me up. Mostly because I can relate. It's good to know I'm not the only one.
    I can also relate to the office-supply fettish. Laptops, pens, hilighters, three-ring binders, even printer paper are somehow... fun to shop for, and even more fun to bring home and use.
    But the best thing about writing is the community. Writers are fun to be around and create a great support group. Everyone's so encouraging. We all go through the same struggles and can laugh at the same things. You need to be careful, though. Sometimes you can get in too deep. Sometimes I find myself unable to enjoy any mediocre writing. I ruin a lot of books for myself that way. :)