Guest Post: What it Takes to Be a Writer

This week’s guest post is from blogger and freelance writer Allison. She’s continuing our discussion of personal publishing stories by adding her testimonial today.

What it Takes to be a Writer

You know, when I got the idea that I wanted to be a writer as a profession I did not really understand what that meant. I had some romantic notion that writing was an easy thing. Something you could do with no problem. I would sit down at my computer and type out a novel or two, get it published and I would be a real writer.

As I got older the dream dimmed. I had not written a novel. I had not time to devote to that sort of thing. I figured that it was almost impossible to make any money as a writer. I mean, you had to be successful like J.K. Rowling or something, right? And there were no real other writing jobs out there beyond a novelist or journalist or technical writer. Ug. I had zero desire to write the latest article on sports news or weather.

So I worked one dead end job after another, trying to find a calling that would pay. After making some okay money I found myself increasingly dissatisfied. I wanted to write. Not just as a hobby like baking or hiking, but as a day in day out job. But how could I get started? I did not have a degree in writing. I had not had anything major published outside of some school stuff. I had not even written anything really for three years. Who would hire me?

Resolute, I decided to find any job even remotely related to writing. I applied at a college for a position as a student advisor. I figured it was close enough, right? Well, they did not hire me for that, but since I listed writing as an objective on my resume they asked how good I was at English. I managed to give them a satisfactory answer and was suddenly a substitute English teacher!

After a whirlwind couple of semesters, working pretty regularly as the school was a large one, I was called down to the office once again. It seems my resume and eclectic assortment of minors and majors had caught someone’s eye. They asked if I had any interest in technical writing.

Sure! I said, grasping at straws. Of course I had done something like that before, I was a science major at one time, so no problem. I ended up being hired to write a series of SAT preparation books. Not exactly the writing experience I was looking for, but much better than the glorified secretary position I had applied for.

This was a limited time opportunity. I had four books, four months’ worth of work ahead of me. After that I was out of a job once again. I could go back to the one I had left, they were always looking for workers as their turnover was very high (no wonder there). Or I could take these four months to really spruce up my resume with my new skills and experience and get out there.

I applied everywhere; at newspapers and magazines, even though I hated to interview, from the smallest to the largest. Nada. Nothing. Zip. I searched the want ads, applying for any job that had writing in it. I even went to Craigslist, fighting through the junk to apply to the few real job postings.

After the four months I still had nothing. One interview for a job that required more web design talent than writing talent and paid peanuts. I went back to my boring job, occasionally stepping in as a substitute too. Then, almost a month after sending in my resume, I got a reply. An interview.

The office was far from my home but it was worth the drive, even though I thought I had no chance of getting it. It sounded like they wanted an experienced writer who knew what they were doing online and off. That was not me. After all, what had I done? A little school writing, some hands on experience with teaching and a test booklet or four. That does not make a successful writer.

As I sat through the lengthy interview process in the backroom of a tiny office space I tried to quell my doubts and present myself as a writer. Think it, be it. After having loads of information vomited on me, I was given a quiz of sorts. It turns out they were looking for more than just a writer. They wanted someone who could think fast, come up with twenty ideas a minute and could think outside of the box. Luckily for me, that pretty much defined my talents.

Pushed into a corner and surprised, I nonetheless did everything they asked, and even above and beyond it. I got the job… Yet I was still unsure of what the job actually was.

I have to say that my first few weeks as a ‘real’ writer were scary ones. I thought that I was ill prepared and totally not what they needed. However as time went on I became more confident in my abilities. No, that is wrong; I gained the abilities I needed as time went on.

You see, being a writer is not about how many books you have published or how much money you make. It is about the writing. The more you write, the more you build your talent. Talent is not defined by your grammatical correctness or your vocabulary. Instead it is about the passion with which you write and how compelling and rich you make your writing to the readers.

It has been a long, hard road learning what it takes to be a writer. I could have never dreamed that I would make a living as a writer, nor did I ever think I would be successful without ever having a bestseller or movie made of my work. However I do feel successful and blessed that I get to do something I love every day and get paid for it.

About the author:

Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail rest you know.

 

2 comments

  1. mary brady says:

    This entire piece sounds as if it were translated from Esperanto.
    Still, the story had a happy ending & I liked it. I am happy that Allison got a cool job that she enjoys.

    Still, there is something oddly missing here. Would Allison still LIKE to write a novel or a short story at some point or does her job completely satisfy her desire to be creative? I’m glad that she can support herself at a job she enjoys–but, like her, I still do not know WHAT her job requires her to do.

    This article would have had a LOT more punch (& a point, frankly) if Allison had actually revealed to us what it is she writes about daily. Again, I’m pleased she is satisfied with the job & likes it. But what the heck IS it? And, does she want to take her writing career even further, or in a different direction, now that she has gained such self-confidence?

    L&K, MaryB

  2. Rod Blakeman says:

    I can’t help thinking that for someone to want to get a job in writing admiting that they

    “I had not even written anything really for three years. ”

    and still thought they should get a job if she just kept applying to newspapers, magazines, etc.

    shows why so much we read is absolute drivel and so badly written.

    The article is a perfect example of how to bore the pants of someone.

    A shame that this is the first thing that I have read on this site, whoever said all publicity is good publicity was sadly wrong.

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