Hi, there. Pretty presumptuous of me to act as the voice for all writers, eh? Well, call a spade a spade, I say.
The amount of research and knowledge-gathering I’ve done since I quit my job and took up writing full-time makes me almost literally dizzy. I realize for every fact I learn, every practice I undertake, I understand more and less about what I thought I was so good at.
There are plenty of things I have to learn as a freelance writer but I still carry with me a wealth of knowledge about what I do…what I’ve always done.
Firstly, writing really is a job. And yes, it sometimes really is that difficult.
It’s just putting pen to paper…ink to parchment…or fingers to keys, right? Well, yes. And also no. Most creatives have a brain that’s like a page from a Richard Scarry book. There’s too much happening, nothing is in lanes or lines.
Ideas for perfect blogs or copy come to you at times that are, at the mildest, inconvenient. I feel like my muse flows ideas to me like a flighty well – sometimes the best ideas stay in my hands while others spill over. Sometimes the well is dry and that bitch gives me nothing for what seems like forever. (My muse’s name is Ingrid and she’s one that’s not to be double-crossed, believe me you.)
Sure, you can write shit for the time being. And usually that’s what we do, just to keep the path visible and sort of clear but it’s really not easy to do. Sometimes we feel like everything we write is shit.
Being a writer is like kicking your own ass regularly and then standing yourself up and patting yourself on the back once a decade, or so.
Writing and reading are disciplines and it’s concerning that their importance seems diminishing.
I regularly argue with strangers on the internet. Because I’m a know-it-all and also kind of an asshole. I literally saw, with my freakin’ eyes, a person comment something to the effect that “you shouldn’t judge people…especially on their grammar.” Um, what?
You listen up people and you listen well. Bad grammar, misspelled words and misplaced punctuation are not handicaps. They’re not congenital conditions. And they’re definitely something on which I derive an immediate understanding (so, yes, I’m judging) of who you are.
Would you nonchalantly dismiss and defend a cashier giving you back incorrect change? What about a server who let your food go from hot, to room temperature, and then reheated it for serving, allowing food-borne bacteria to grow? I think not.
Math, science, English – these are all things we were all responsible for learning and still are responsible for learning. If your grammar and spelling suck, educate yourself and make them not suck. The same as I would if I were unable to perform basic math. The same as I would if I were unsure of how science affects the food I cook for my family.
Ignorance is not an excuse. Open a book. Read to yourself. Read to your kids. Take a second to Google something if you don’t know it. And for fuck’s sake, don’t undermine the importance of writing and reading often and well.
Language is literally the mechanism by which our world moves. The way we communicate verbally and by written means is the foundation for, like, everything. So don’t get pissed when someone calls you out for not understanding that “you’re” is a contraction and “your” is possessive. Take it as an opportunity to learn yourself a thing or two.
Also…apostrophes don’t make something plural. Just. Stop. It.
Writing services aren’t discounted, they certainly aren’t free and we’re not all the same.
While I’ve been so fortunate to rarely have unpaid requests for my services, I know they happen. In the same way you’d expect to pay a photographer, an artist or a musician, expect to pay a writer.
I have a Bachelor’s degree (that I’m still paying for) in what I do. I’ve been expanding my knowledge and skills as a writer quite literally since I can remember. What I do cannot be done by just anyone and what you’ll end up with will be worth your hard-earned coin. It’s hard work and you shouldn’t expect it to be cheap or free.
That being said, I’ve heard some awful stories about bloggers and writers who have shystered people (often other creatives) out of their money. We’re not all cut from the same cloth. You tell me who hurt you! Point them out to me and I’ll spit beechnut in their eye!
We’re a strange bunch that you definitely will want to get to know.
Seriously, most of us are weird. We get passionate about the Oxford comma (team pro, by the way), we see the beauty in a well-crafted bit of copy, and we nerd out when we talk about books.
But you should befriend a writer. Get in their head, a little. We see things differently and understand that there’s something to be found in everyone. There’s some inspiration in almost every place. We benefit from your experiences, too.
At the very least, it’s good to have a writer in your pocket for all those times you just don’t know whether to use “affect” or “effect”.
Writing is changing as much as it’s staying the same.
I know that doesn’t make sense but bear with me, a moment.
The pool of modern-day writers may not be producing many Oscar Wildes or Ernest Hemingways but it’s producing people who are refining their craft to better the world, all the same.
Bloggers are going to help you target and talk to your audience. Copywriters are going to blow the socks off your potential client. E-book writers are making their knowledge more accessible to you. Writers are becoming better and more prolific at being entrepreneurs. And to do that, we understand that we have to have a multitude of tools in our wheelhouse.
What does this mean for someone needing a writer? It means that you’re going to get someone who has a varied skill set and someone who isn’t a one-hit-wonder. Your blogger is probably well-versed in social media management. Your editor probably has a keen eye for SEO. Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman might just come over and cook you pancakes while he beats the shit out of the latest and greatest villain.
So, don’t be scared. Don’t discredit us and don’t underestimate what we do. We’re changing the world, one well-crafted sentence at a time, and we need all of you to help us.