Is My Work Here Done?

By Jamie McSloy / December 28, 2017
work here done featured image

Is My Work Here Done?

It’s coming to the end of the year and I have been wondering about keeping the daily posts going. At times it feels as though I’ve covered every conceivable angle so far as professional writing is concerned.

That’s among other reasons, but I feel as though my work is probably done and I should do other stuff.

Then I read stuff like this.

I’m not talking about the infographic itself; although that’s flawed, inaccurate and not really reflective of anything.

Instead, I’m talking about the comments.

Writing Professionally Isn’t Magic

We’ll start by checking out the Imgur comments on that infographic:

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A few points:

  1. Writing for 8 hours a day isn’t some monumental, Herculean task. Anyone can write for eight hours a day.
  2. Anyone can get paid $0.1 a word. That’s a blog article that makes $100 in a lifetime. Or a short story that makes $500. Or a decent freelance rate. Nothing out of this world though.

The information to get to the above points is freely available. It’s not like the high, high end of writing for a living where there are more stringent rules (technical writing/legal writing) or other things make a big difference (like advertising budget if you’re an authority or novelist.)

If you write for 8 hours a day, that’s 16,000 words a day. Assuming 1/3 words are useless, you’re looking at ten thousand words a day.

At $0.1 a word, that’s a sizable amount.

Very few writers make close to this. Instead, they read articles about how much money J.K. Rowling makes and then spend their writing time writing comments they won’t get paid for and otherwise doing all the wrong things.

I’ve spoken with writers before and suggested they broaden their horizons. Many of them don’t consider copywriting or content writing to be “real” writing.

Whatever it is they plan on doing, they’re putting themselves in an entirely optional box.

They’re also betraying why they won’t make any money.

Writing To Market Is The Key To Success

All of those people who say, “I’m going to write my thing and do it my way” are missing the fundamental understanding of how business of any sort works.

You have to create something that people want.

If you write for a living, then you only get paid if you write things that people want to read or need to read.

Does this mean you have to write non-fiction? No.

Nor does it mean you have to be an SEO writer churning out thousands of words every day.

But if you look at those top paying writers: J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, James Patterson etc.

All of them write to market.

All of them write in a particular niche that they’re good at.

Most of them corner the market and become synonymous with the market.

For instance, Stephen King… he’s considered the be-all and end-all for a lot of people when it comes to horror. Is he the only horror writer? No. Was he the first horror writer? No. What about a groundbreaking horror writer? Not really.

King writes genre fiction and does it very well. That’s neither here nor there about his writing style. People just don’t get it and writers are terrible for not getting it.

See: The hatred writers still have for E.L. James and Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Fifty Shades Of Grey is poorly written from a technical standpoint. That doesn’t matter. It’s successful because it hit all the buttons it needed to. The fact that it’s not a technical masterpiece should be encouraging for writers, not derision-worthy.

You Have To Get It

The dozens of writers who commented on that piece with dumb stuff:

  • “Sexism keeps women out of writing!” (What?)
  • “It’s impossible to write seven novels a year!” (ha ha.)
  • “Some writers don’t write their own books!” (This shouldn’t be a surprise in any way.)
  • “There’s a smaller audience for non-fiction than fiction!” (Yeah… if you don’t include the majority of words on the planet)

They’re misguided comments. That’s not to knock their intelligence or suggest they can’t have success as writers (neither of those things is likely true) but the comments simply show a lack of understanding of the industry they are working in.

Writing professionally is a business. It can be one where you starve or one where you make money in a lucrative fashion.

The camp you fall into depends on how well you intuitively understand what makes writing valuable.

We still have work to do.

 

  • Anon1 says:

    I still read and love your site Jamie, it’s just i’m realising i have to do more and comment less lol. Just across the board i have to become more of a producer of content than a consumer of content

    • Jamie McSloy says:

      Hey there and Happy New Year!

      Glad to hear you’re still around and enjoying the site.

      As reasons for not commenting go, that’s a good one.

      If everyone who reads becomes a valuable content producer, then I’ve done a good job.

      Best wishes for the upcoming year!

      Jamie


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