Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: October 2020

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled another wonderful group of co-hosts: Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for plenty of great resources for writers!

The optional question for this month is: When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if the latter two, what does that look like?

One thing I can say for certain is that, if you write, it is appropriate to call yourself a writer. You should never feel shame in claiming that label, even if you don't write as often as you'd like, or if you have yet to achieve publication. Someone who never allows their words to be read by another person can still be a writer.

That being said, there are certainly different types within that designation. When I think of the term working writer, I see that person as someone who writes regularly. A working writer is someone who, by their own standards, has achieved success in their writing career. A person who earns their living based solely on their writing is obviously a working writer, but that is also a pretty exclusive club. If that's the definition of a working writer, there aren't a whole lot of them out there.

No, that definition is too narrow. It excludes too many people. How about expanding it to include writers who use their income to supplement what they earn from their day jobs?  Or writers who do this in addition to caring for children or enjoying their retirement years? Well, that certainly helps. Even so, do we want to exclude writers that don't yet earn money from their work? Or writers that don't do it for the goal of earning money, but for some other reason entirely?

The trouble with defining what it means to be a working writer is that there's no correct answer. The definition varies depending on who you ask. After some thought, I've come up with some questions we can all ask ourselves to decide if we're working writers.

-What does success as a writer mean to you?
-Have you yet achieved this success?
-If you haven't achieved your definition of success, do you have a plan in place to help you get there?
-Are you striving every day to stick to that plan to the best of your ability?

If you can say that you are indeed striving to achieve success (in whatever form that might take for you), then I think you can consider yourself a working writer.

Working off of that, I think an aspiring writer is someone who wants to be a working writer, but they're not yet certain what their vision of success is or how to get there. They know they love writing, and they know they want it to be a concrete part of their lives. They simply need time to develop a roadmap for themselves.

So what does it mean to be a hobbyist? I guess, to me, that means someone is simply writing for fun with no real goal aside from enjoyment. The hobbyist writes recreationally when they have the time or the inclination to do so. They don't do it in the hopes of making it big someday.

So which am I? I honestly have no idea. I feel as if I'm stuck somewhere between the aspiring writer and the working writer. I do my best to write when I can, and I know where I want to go with my writing career. What I lack is the concrete plan to achieve that success. Life keeps pulling me away. 

What kind of plan should I enact to strike the balance between writing and the other aspects of my life so I can achieve the success I crave? I don't know yet, I'm working toward figuring it out.

What does being a working writer mean to you?


  1. There isn't a correct answer. I barely even came up with an answer.

  2. You brought up some interesting points. Great post.

  3. I never had a concrete plan and it would certainly be out the window by now anyway.

  4. When you analyze the answer to the question this way, it really gets complicated. I guess in the end there is no one answer. I enjoyed following your thinking process while writing your response to this month's question.

  5. I like how you reflected on your answer. I decided to work towards writing goals regularly means I'm a working writer, even if I have low writing times and even if I have two part-time jobs in addition to writing.

  6. I like your contemplative answer. I also think that it is hard to be a working writer while exclusively writing fiction. There is a very low percentage of fiction writers who make all their income from fiction. But even if it is only a small part of your income, as long as you make money by writing, fiction or non-fiction, you're a working writer.

  7. Very well thought out 'essay' of the topic. Thank you it helped clarify the idea(s) for me. :)

  8. Nicely done, L.G. You put a lot of thought into this ~ There is no simple answer to this question; the answers are as varied as the writers.

  9. I really like your definition/this post. One of my core beliefs is that we each get to define success in our own terms, and your definition honors that idea.

  10. You have a well-developed definition of "working writer" that's also open-ended. Because of that it makes it inclusive of many levels of writers. That's really neat!

  11. I called myself a hobbyist, but the more that I read these awesome blog posts, I've changed my mind. I guess I am a working writer, although, I could never survive on my royalties.
    Good Post.

  12. I always treated my writing like it was my career. I treated it like a business, learned my craft (am still learning), slowly building a following (beyond friends & family LOL). This is the 1st year since 2011 that I don't have a new release. I know, I still have time. Life throws roadblocks sometimes. You sound like a working writer to me.