Is Writing Your Hobby or Your Job?

I view my writing as a job. I use that term loosely. Though I derive some income directly from my writing, like most authors, I also have a day job to help pay the bills. Few authors earn enough money through their writing alone to fully support themselves and their families. The vast majority have another source of income, even though it may be writing related. Such is my case. (I’m a magazine publisher.)

Still, I think it’s critical to treat writing like a job. This means:

  • Is Writing Your Hobby or Your Job?I write every day, just like going to work. Though I don’t punch a time clock, I do have a regular time to write. When it’s time to write, I sit down, and I do it, with no procrastination and no waffling. I write.
  • I invest in my job of writing by going to conferences, two per year. This allows me to meet other writers, as well as agents and publishers. I make friends in the writing community; I network; I help others. I give and I receive.
  • I also strive to improve as a writer. This includes reading blogs, listening to podcasts, taking online courses, and reading books and magazines that relate to writing. I attend writing groups to have my work critiqued and to give input to others. I seek input every chance I get.
  • I treat writing as a business, too. I track expenses (yuck) and income (yea). Some years I make a profit, and I’m trending towards profit every year. Right now, most of that income is derived from freelance work.

I treat my writing as a job. My dream is that one day writing will be my only one.

Other people view writing as a hobby. They write when they feel like it. They write just for their family or friends, maybe even just for themselves. Sometimes they don’t even let other people read their writing. They don’t expect to ever make money from their work. But they do spend money on their hobby. They attend conferences, though it’s mostly for fun: to have an excuse to travel, hang out with other writers, or tie in a mini-vacation. They may also be part of writers groups, but it’s mostly for the social benefits. Last, the writing hobbyist often prefers to talk about writing more than to actually write.

Though I wish every writer would treat writing as their job, I know that for some it is a hobby. And that’s okay, just as long as they are honest with themselves.

Do you treat writing as a job or a hobby? Is there a third option that is halfway between the two? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

2 thoughts on “Is Writing Your Hobby or Your Job?

  1. Good question, Peter!

    I wrote for years for myself, my family, and friends.
    I loved writing in school; Greek and American!
    I still write.

    Just as I thought that “I am a writer”, family problems turned me back into a mom, and wife, and daughter. That role is real and strong. I know how to play it the best. I had fifty years of practice and I am already appreciated and endorsed as an expert. 🙂
    No competition there!

    Still, I did write and finished my book. I do want it out; not to make money–which would be great–but to share my way of seeing and handling life and the lessons it taught me in its school.

    But I am a perfectionist and keep working on this book. Editing, once more, one essay at a time. Doing it diligently! I want to make it the best I can because it might be the last one I write. I wrote my memoir during NANO month, so for sure I will publish that for my family. I also have a Greek cookbook brewing; not sure yet what I will do with that.

    Even so, I see my writing more as an enjoyable and fulfilling part of my life, not as a paying job on which my livelihood depends on. I would love to have more time to write. That would be ideal, but I cannot do it right now.

    I hope you get your wish, Peter!

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