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The Challenges of Being a Professional Writer

professional writer challengesThough the process of professional writing is rewarding, it can also be full of challenges, woes and adversity. Writing for the professions is, in many rights, considered an art form, and like other art forms it is not given due respect or compensation. Professional writers are highly valued when they are well recognized and loved, but professional writers who have not had their break into the mainstream can be gravely mistreated, both professionally and socially.

The profession of writing is known for being overworked and underpaid. Like any art form, there is a degree of subjectivity in the criticism of writing, meaning that preferred styles of writing can be a matter of taste. This has lead to a widely spread and inaccurate assessment that anyone can be a writer, and that writers do not possess distinct skill sets. Those who are actually skilled in reading and writing know that this is not the case. Quality writing is governed by complex rules, and only those who have devoted themselves to the craft of writing should be considered “writers.” All others claiming to be writers are only considered to be so by an uneducated populous.

Professional writers require quiet and solitude in order to write, which often gets them misjudged as antisocial, introverted or just plain weird. Particularly burgeoning writers who are struggling to receive recognition are harshly judged for the time they spend behind closed doors. Peers, family members and roommates frequently do not see the value in the writer’s pursuits and stigmatize their behavior as mentally unhealthy.

Which brings this writer to the harshest challenge that professional writers face. It is a challenge that Sir Ken Robinson discusses in the TED Talk “How School Kills Creativity.” Writers and other artists do not receive the support they need, from their social and familial groups or from society, to pursue their talents. Writers and artists, even the ones who demonstrate great potential, are much more likely to be discouraged away from their craft than they are to be encouraged toward it. This is because the arts are stigmatized as a professional waste of time, money and energy. The future of creative thought depends on reversing this toxic societal attitude toward writers and other artists.

The Rewards of Being a Professional Writer

professional writer rewardsThe life of a professional writer can be a very magical one when the craft of writing is respected properly. Writing is a very rewarding profession or vocation in that it makes use of the mind in a very unique way. There is no other task that people go about that uses the mind in quite the same way. Writing enhances and utilizes a person’s imagination and ability to express one’s self, allows them to build on their written language skills as an art form and takes them through a one-of-a-kind self discovery process.

Every form of literature that is created requires use of the imagination and expressive faculties. Even pieces of journalistic or academic writing, which are championed for their objectivity, can be greatly enriched by the author’s own voice coming through to the reader. The human imagination does a great deal more than make believe. It is responsible for all forms of mental wandering that make valuable connections between different areas of thought, as well as theorize, invent and create. The cogent expression of these imaginative ideas makes for excellent writing.

Every valid form of writing offers a mastery of written language. This goes without saying. A writer’s primary job duty is to be proficient and skilled at communicating the written word. It is rewarding to the writer to consistently generate quality writing, both for the benefit of the effect it will have on their reader and the benefit it will give the writer’s competency.

And lastly, every form of writing offers an education to the writer, as well as a journey of self discovery. Any good piece of writing will inform the reader of something they did not previously know, which means that the writer will also obtain new information through the researching and writing process. The impetus for writing is to communicate personal revelation. Writing also represents the highest level of organization possible for one’s own thoughts. Solidifying thoughts into written words is the most organized form of expression there is, which essentially means that writers come to understand their positions on things more clearly than others, which is a unique and interesting form of self discovery.

Different Types of Professional Writers

professional writerPeople use the title “writer” to describe anyone who habitually writes anything, either professionally or as a hobby. It is, however, a rather vague term as the purpose behind any particular writing can be vastly different. The title “writer” draws to mind images of a novelist, obsessing over their writing and disregarding everything else. This stereotype hardly describes every type of writer. Professional writers are a diverse group of people with a range of different professional intentions.

  • The most traditional professional writer is the independent one; a novelists, essayists, blogger or freelance writer. This type of writing requires entertainment, information and enlightenment value from the writer. This writer is fortunate enough to be their own boss and pursue the writing projects of their choice. It is considerably difficult to achieve this type of writing vocation. Only a small percentage of professional writers can claim true independence.
  • Academic or research writers are primarily scholars or scientists of some sort. Many are employed by educational institutions, labs, research centers or other organizations looking to conduct official studies. The communication of their findings in readable, official language is very important to the success of the research, which means that a professional level of writing is necessary.
  • Technical writers are recently in very high demand as there is often a separation between technically minded people and good writing skills. It is now very common for a person to receive an education in both writing and a technical vocation, equipping them to communicate the technical language in a way that is understandable to the layperson.
  • Marketing and press release writing is an area of writing that many people who study journalism and English gravitate towards. This type of writing requires the ability to generate interest in the subject matter, which is different from writing of the technical variety. Where technical writing is under no obligation to inspire the reader to keep reading, marketing and press release writing are supposed to be catchy and hook the reader.
  • News writing, or journalistic writing, is a well established profession and area of study. News writing involves finding stories, researching them, conducting interviews and organizing facts into a well written news piece to inform the public of current events. News writers are generally employed with a newspaper or similar editorial.

A Life of Writing

writing lifeA professional writer is a person with a particular brand of ups and downs. People become professional writers for a number of reasons, such as strong linguistic, storytelling or communication abilities, but one thing that all professional writers value is the power of the written word. The creation of literature marked the dawn of humanity’s original intellectual revolution, and literature continues to flourish today as the basis for the communication of intellectual ideas. Even the movies and music that we value so highly in modern times begin with the written word, in the form of screenplays and lyrics. Writers have played a very important role in the civilization of the world’s cultures, and continue to revolutionize the world today. However, for such an important vocation, writers can be some of the most misunderstood and disadvantaged professionals in the workforce. Society’s relationship with its writers can be a complicated one.

The rewards of being a professional writer are many. Professional writers often struggle to make a living on their writing, so when they do achieve that coveted title of professional writer, it is very fulfilling. It is an honor for a writer to make a living on their writing because it means they have something valuable to say. Professional writing is unique among vocations as it calls for solitude and a great deal of thinking. In fact, it is quite literally an exercise in organizing and translating thoughts into communication. Most professional writing positions are in marketing and technical writing, which can make a decent living. It is a much smaller percentage of writers that publish full length books, but those who do can sometimes become wealthy off of it.

Of course, it is not all good news for professional writers. There are a number of ways they are abused and mistreated as well. When all is said and done, the skill of writing is an art form, and it is no big secret that artists are largely disrespected in the work force. Writers are often pressured to produce insanely high word counts for unimpressive pay – a practice that totally disregards the talent they possess. This pushes many of them toward mental disorders and addictive tendencies. Writers are also frequently misunderstood as people for their necessity of solitude. Writing is one vocation that cannot be achieved socially.