Me, me … again: My career hat and my creative hat

Thank you Margaret Adams of The Adams Consultancy and Susie Nott-Bower of Strictly Writing, who have both hosted me as an interviewee this week!

With my careers hat on

Margaret is a careers consultant and has a blog that delves into the less commonly discussed aspects of writing – namely building a long-term career that will pay the bills. She interviewed me about my strategies for making a living as a writer, which you can find here. And you can find her latest post, Planning Your Bestseller, here.

Strictly Writing is the blog of eight writers, brought together by their enduring love of writing. They let me witter on here about my creative process for far longer than I should probably have been allowed.

With my creativity hat on

Thank you, Margaret and Susie et al, for hosting me!

Anyway, now it’s your turn. I’d love to know how writing fits into your life.

How much is writing a career for you? Are you writing for the pure creative love of it, maybe with the hope of publication someday? Have you already had fiction published? Do you make your living from words in other ways, such as journalism? Or do you have a job that is totally unconnected with the writing? 

 Tell me in the comments!

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  1. #1 by Paulo Campos on May 13, 2010 - 9:51 pm

    My job is unrelated to writing.

    I ended up with years off from writing fiction while I taught college composition then literature in high school, then wrote grant applications for a non-profit community center. Great experiences, all; each of which involved a lot of reading, writing and proof reading. But also overtime and exhaustion.

    Thanks to mass layoffs I lost my job at the non-profit and realized that writing fiction had been largely absent from my life for seven years. I deliberately looked for this low-stress job as a means to support myself while I develop better writing habits; read more thoroughly than I have sine graduate school and develop work I’m proud of.

    My first story was accepted for publication last year and is coming out next month. It’s a small journal, but was incredibly rewarding as a sign of progress!

    Thanks for an interesting interview!

  2. #2 by Jemi Fraser on May 14, 2010 - 12:08 am

    My full time job is teaching. I love it. I love everything about it except maybe the excessive hours it requires.🙂

    Writing doesn’t come first for me – it can’t. Kids, hubby, extended family, job & house have to come first. I love every single minute I spend on my writing, but it will never come ahead of my family.🙂

  3. #3 by Charlotte on May 14, 2010 - 5:34 am

    I’m a journalist by training and have always made my living writing, including three sad years when I wrote software documentation. At the moment, I supplement the family income doing business writing (marketing documents, articles for inhouse journals) while also looking after my kids.

    However, my dream is to earn my living as a novelist and I’m writing my first novel – a mystery set in my native South Africa. I’m on the fourth and hopefully final draft, having consulted critique partners, and am looking forward to approaching agents with it later in the year.

  4. #4 by Roz Morris on May 14, 2010 - 8:36 am

    @Paulo – nothing beats getting immersed in writing fiction, does it?! Lots of writers I know have, as you put it, low-stress jobs that allow them to save some juice for what’s really important.
    In fact, I worked in an office (where I now still freelance) that seemed to have several of them. We had a fine artist, a folk musician, an avant-garde musician and me! We were like the company’s arts faculty.

    @Jemi – I knew you were a teacher and wondered how you juggled work/life/writing! Whatever you say about putting other things first, you’re clearly also putting in the time for your writing. Not an easy balancing act.

    @Charlotte – I think a lot of us are journalists, aren’t we? Do you sometimes get the urge to enliven a dull news story by making something up? No..? Just me then… Best of luck with the first novel, and whatever happens, keep working on the second, third, fourth…. It’s a long game.

  5. #5 by Jonathan Moore on May 14, 2010 - 8:50 am

    Writing comes somewhere between hobby and ambition, but the more it moves towards serious ambition the less enjoyable I find it. I suspect this is because I have an aversion to hard work and that’s what’s required.

    The wife’s headed back to Ireland for a couple of weeks leaving me free to concentrate on writing, and then I’m committed to not watching any TV for the month of June. Hopefully this will result in getting the first draft finished.

  6. #6 by Roz Morris on May 14, 2010 - 9:42 am

    Jonathan – removing TV is a great idea. We junked our aerial and told the BBC where to put its licence fee demand. Now we just get films and series on Love Film – so anything we watch is carefully chosen and time is found for it. Hard to jettison TV, though, if it’s part of your life – but definitely proof of your dedication.

  7. #7 by Margaret Adams on May 14, 2010 - 11:12 am

    First of all thank you, Roz, for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog.

    Here’s a bit about my (writing) career.

    Writing is at the heart of everything I do, but I don’t think of myself as a writer. I write assessment frameworks, e-learning programmes, e-tests, customised training programmes and quality standards. I get paid well for all of the above – but not as a writer. When I write assessment frameworks, I also train the assessors and moderate the assessment process once it is implemented. When I write customised training programmes, I am asked to deliver them.

    Yes, I write for publication, too, for a range of trade journals, but my real writing career is all about teaching and learning and most of it isn’t linked to publication.

    So, writing is central to my life, and to my working life, but in what seems to be an unusual way of working.

  8. #8 by Roz Morris on May 14, 2010 - 11:23 am

    Margaret – I didn’t realise quite how diverse your career is. An impressive range of ways to use writing. Thanks for joining the discussion!

  9. #9 by David Jarrett on May 14, 2010 - 4:45 pm

    If writing is going to be a career for me, it is going to have to start fast and develop even faster. Fortunately for me, I have already concluded one successful career, thirty-five years as a practicing dentist, and that career taught me more about people than you would imagine. Another bonus I can attribute to this is that I do not need the money. A profound negative, however, is that I am already 68 years old!

    I write because I enjoy doing it, because it keeps the neurons from disappearing from my brain, and because I have opinions I want to share with other people in the world. One can share these opinions through a non-fiction book (which probably would have been an easy road for me to take but which I did not), through blogging (which I am doing, but not attracting many readers), or through fiction, which is the way I have chosen to go. I think important ideals and concepts can be expressed just as easily through fiction as they can through any other form or writing, and I believe that our society is off the track enough that someone should be writing the sort of fiction that might induce others to set it right.

    You who are reading this are probably thinking, “This guy is a dinosaur.” For the moment, you’re probably right, but I believe that one of these days people are going to decide they’re sick and tired of immoral, amoral, and unethical behavior, and decide that the “anything goes as long as it benefits me” attitude has outlived its usefulness. As long as I keep writing, this attitude will be apparent in my story lines.

  10. #10 by Roz Morris on May 14, 2010 - 7:07 pm

    David – age is no barrier. The novelist Mary Wesley was first published when she was 70! Readers come in all ages. And I agree with you that ficiton can explore truths more deeply than most non-fiction – interesting to hear your manifesto. Thanks for sharing it!

  11. #11 by Cat Woods on May 14, 2010 - 10:31 pm

    Roz,

    Nice interviews. Kudos on being out there and succeeding.

    I write because I have to. I love it. However, I have a burning desire to be published in the juvenile lit market.

    My day job invloves writing court reports. My volunteer work involves me writing newsletters for kids. I write per project for small business or to help individuals with career packages or work projects. I’ve published in the adult market (short stories, articles, poetry, column) for pay, but it is not where my heart is and I haven’t worked on my adult writing for years.

    Boy, talk about being selfish with my writing. : ) And even then, I don’t dedicate my self to it entirely, as my family definitely comes first. I’ve put my writing away for years to take care of them and will do so again if the need arises.

  12. #12 by Roz Morris on May 14, 2010 - 11:35 pm

    Cat – always great to find out a bit more about you! I had no idea you’d switched to juvenile lit from adult.

  13. #13 by Dominique on May 16, 2010 - 6:49 pm

    There is no age limit and there is no age minimum either. I flirted with the idea of writing when I was younger, but I never took it seriously because I was never taken seriously. I think it’s a shame that I spent so many years not writing just because I wasn’t encouraged to do so. Of course, I’m still very young. But somehow, when I turned 18, things changed drastically. And now I write will full effort every day🙂 Which isn’t to say that encouragement is required. More power to the people who write in defiance of everyone else. But I needed that push. And I finally got it, along with the right to vote and buy cigarettes.

    • #14 by Roz Morris on May 17, 2010 - 8:50 am

      Dominique – Confidence is key, isn’t it? Good for you for finding the inner push to start.

  14. #15 by Jane Kennedy Sutton on May 17, 2010 - 10:21 pm

    Writing started off as a hobby for me. When my first book was published, my hobby turned into a new career. Though it’s not a job which would enable me to live off my earnings (yet), I can say I’m living my dream.

    • #16 by Roz Morris on May 18, 2010 - 8:35 am

      So interesting to hear that; thank you for sharing that, Jane.

  15. #17 by Maribeth on May 18, 2010 - 6:28 pm

    To date, I am not getting paid to write but hopefully one day that will change.
    I am a mother of four in training to become a Craps dealer at a local casino , so finding time to write is challenging but not impossible.
    I have no doubt that writing is a life purpose for me, whether I get paid to do it will not determine if I continue to do it.
    I dream of deadlines and book covers. The best thing I can do is prepare in case those dreams come true. Writing for me is a career in which I haven’t been compensated for yet. I’m hoping for a back pay?🙂

    Maribeth

    • #18 by Roz Morris on May 18, 2010 - 8:08 pm

      Maribeth – ‘a craps dealer in your casino’! Wow, take notes! what a day job! Although it’s probably not exactly a daylight job…

      But most of us wait a good few years before the ‘back pay’ comes. Keep going!

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