Is Your Writing a Hobby or a Job?

Hobby: a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.

Work: the labor, task or duty that is one’s accustomed means of livelihood.

Take a moment to read the above definitions taken from my Webster’s Ninth. Many of us have hobbies. I have a hobby that I love. I scrapbook. It is creative and fun and something I can do with my sister and mother. We can sit for hours and sort our pictures and match them with our fancy papers and stickers and it is always enjoyable. Why? Because hobbies are fun and freeing. They are by definition relaxing.

Many of us started writing as a hobby. In the beginning writing was enjoyable as any of our hobbies. And then one day it became hard. Why would we continue to do something that isn’t easy and fun all the time? (This is the part where you need to ask yourself if you are writing as a hobby or if writing is your chosen profession. I’m going to take for granted that all of you who are members of RWA and SARA are choosing writing as your profession.) Because writing is work, it’s a job.

Think about a job you had at some point in your life that you loved. Right out of college, I took a job at a mortgage company training their employees how to use computer software applications. I loved the teaching part of that job, but not the rest of it. I don’t work there anymore. My point is there are always things you love and hate about a job – that’s the nature of the beast.

The part of writing which constitutes “work” is different for all of us. To one it might be the business aspect of dealing with agents and editors, to another it’s figuring out how best to promote their next book, for others it’s somewhere in the actual writing. Writing is not always fun and when we realize this, we doubt.

I have a favorite story about this that I heard in a writing workshop a few years back:

Author “A” is working on her latest book and she’s having a devil of a time with it. Every word is a struggle to write. She decides to give her critique partner a call to discuss her problems in hopes that something said will make the current project easier (or what she really wants is permission to put aside hard book and start working on new idea that is bound to be easier.) So Author “A” calls Author “B” and tells her sad tale.

“I just can’t do it. This book is so difficult. My writing stinks, the story stinks. This is the hardest book I’ve ever written.”

“I thought you wrote that one last time,” Author “B” replies.

The moral of our little story – they’re all hard. Writing is hard. Don’t ever forget that. We lose sight of this fact and panic when we realize that writing is no longer the fun and exciting task we ran to at the end of our day jobs. Take hold of your panic and remind yourself that just because something becomes hard does not mean it is no longer fun. Instead applaud yourself when writing becomes hard, it means you are growing.

Robyn Ratliff has been a member of RWA since 1996. She currently serves as President and Webmaster to her RWA Chapter, San Antonio Romance Authors. She writes historicals set in Victorian England and is currently dividing her time between writing her next book and Agent Quest.

Copyright © 2007. Robyn DeHart. All Rights Reserved.

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