Writing is like no other career

My messy deskWalking from the kitchen where I had just had breakfast to my office (OK, it’s a bedroom with an alcove for a desk), a thought struck me: writing is like no other job I’ve ever had.

A quick explanation of my past: 5 years developing software at a telecom research company, 10 years at IBM in both technology and sales roles, 14 years in consulting (so now you’re getting the idea of how old experienced I am). And now, 6 plus years writing. So here’s my list of why writing is such a different occupation:

  • NO ONE GIVES YOU A JOB DESCRIPTION – except all the writers who’ve written books on writing and the professors who teach writing, everyone of them with something different to say
  • NO ONE REVIEWS YOUR JOB PERFORMANCE – except thousands (wouldn’t that be nice) of readers, none of whom have met you
  • NO ONE MONITORS YOUR WORK – except that little voice in your head or occasionally, if you are lucky enough to get a publisher, an editor who sets deadlines for each of an incredible number of revisions
  • YOU HAVE NO COLLEAGUES – no one to bitch to, no one to go for coffee with, no one to discuss difficult problems with
  • YOU HAVE NO BOSS – many would say this is a good thing but in my experience bosses can help set direction, clarify priorities, help you see the big picture or negotiate the politics
  • YOU HAVE NO SUBORDINATES – which means no one who seeks your guidance or to whom you can delegate
  • YOU RECEIVE NO REGULAR INCOME – in fact you can work for years and earn nothing, zip, zero, nada
  • YOU HAVE NO BENEFITS – forget pension, there isn’t even a medical plan
  • YOU REGULARLY DISCARD YOUR WORK PRODUCT – who else would put hours and hours into a small paragraph and later delete it?
  • YOU AGONIZE OVER COMMAS, ADVERBS, WORDS IN GENERAL – writing in many other careers only has to be ‘good enough’
  • IT NEVER MATTERS WHAT YOU WEAR TO WORK – even pyjamas are acceptable

That’s my list, what’s on yours?

Oh, and by the way, I LOVE WRITING!

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


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12 Responses

  1. Ah, but you do have colleagues… they just may be more scattered. I’ve found more co-worker like connections in the writing world than in many of the other jobs I’ve held. You may all be working on different projects, but you still have similarities to bond and gripe over.

    1. A great point, Eclecticalli. I have developed some connections particularly online and they are a great resource. Even posting a note on Facebook can ease the angst of a particular situation! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. You are correct, Mary. I will also add, “You can take as many long walks during the day as you wish.” One difference in my writing job is that I have a “colleague” – my writing partner. I see her every two weeks and we talk through our problems, offer encouragement, and provide the oh-so-useful deadlines that help us stay on track.

  3. I remember an interview David Gemmell gave many years ago. When asked, what’s the better part of the writing job, he said, you’re your own boss.
    When asked, what the worse part, he said, you’re your own boss.

    LOL, I always though he was so right!

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