Are you making a career out of your writing, or is it just a hobby?
There’s a tough word. Just.
Hobbies can be hard. Go ask all the people who’ve decided to run a marathon. Do I think their training is easy? No. Do I think they’re making it a career? No, unless they’re world-class athletes.
Is writing the same way? Do we have to be world-class in order to make this hobby a career? My answer is no.
1, taxes. I report my writing as a small business on my tax return. If I can say I own a business, this writing thing is more than a hobby.
2, money. I do make money writing. Sure, I still spend more than I make, but I see a return here. Lots of people go running without making any money from it (well, they do get a nice payoff in health benefits).
3, time. Writing isn’t something I do now and then or put off for months at a time. I hardly go a couple days without working on my novel, whether editing, brainstorming, outlining, or proofreading.
4, research. I’m not sure exactly what to call this one, but I’m serious about making writing my career. I listen to the Writing Excuses podcast, I follow KM Weiland’s writing blog, and I read David Farland’s Writing Advice newsletter. I go to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers meetings and learn from Rachel Aaron’s publishing advice on her blog. I have writing books I still read now and then. Basically, I’m always learning and training and improving.
5, professional presence. I devote so much of myself into author venues like goodreads and the writers’ group and my facebook author page and my amazon author page and soliciting reviews and connecting with other authors and readers (and writing my author blog on my author website, heh). I probably spend close to ten hours a week being my author self and trying to reach people. Since I sometimes go a month without selling any books, this can be hard, but I won’t give up.
6, effort. I write when I don’t feel like it. I drag myself out of bed at 1am when an idea hits me because I know I won’t remember it in the morning. Hobbies can take effort, too (see above marathon reference), but combine this with the rest of my points.
Some people make this sound like it’s not enough. They say, you have to go to national conferences, have a twitter account, distribute a newsletter, and do author signings at schools (I’m working on the last one). Kudos to them, but I do need to sleep and talk to friends now and then.
Here are the reasons I consider my writing more than a hobby. I consider it a career. Is yours?