Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Are you a professional writer or a hobbyist?

I want to say from the beginning that there is nothing wrong with having a writing hobby. As a professional writer, I not only enjoy writing (most of the time- especially my own stuff), but I also make money from it. Hobbyists can also make money, but they generally have another full- or part-time job. Hobbyists generally only write about the things they want to write about and like to write about. Professional writers may or may not write about things they enjoy. The primary difference is that a professional writer can not only write about things that they dislike, they can write them in such a way that no one would know from reading it that the actual writer disliked it.
Now, you may say, "What about Steven King? He only writes what he likes to write, and he makes lots of money, and he breaks all the rules you tell us on here." Well, Stephen King's first major success was Carrie. He began writing it because he was told his stories lacked female perspective and characters. After three pages he crumpled it up and threw it in the trash because he hated the story, he couldn't get into the head of an adolescent girl and make her sympathetic (his wife, also an English major and writer, helped him with the finished product), and he knew it was getting too long to be accepted as a short story. The book was rejected 30 times, which means he had to write a sales letter along the line somewhere (something most authors dread). And now that he is famous, I am sure he has to write many things in the name of marketing that he would probably rather not. I have developed a quiz for you to discover if you are a professional writer or a hobbyist. This is my first time trying to incorporate a quiz, so bear with me.

Writer or Hobbyist?

Do you write because you love it, write because you need a paycheck, or a little of both? You can find out by taking this quiz.
  1. How often do you find yourself writing down a good idea for a story or non-fiction work?

  2. All the time.
    I don't just write the idea down, I write the story or non-fiction work.
    I usually don't have my own ideas, but other people's ideas inspire me.
    I have had less than five different ideas.

  3. Do you keep a journal?

  4. Every day.
    I have a journal I use, but I don't write in it every day.
    I don't have a journal, but sometimes I make a social media post describing my day.
    I think journals are silly.

  5. When you get an idea, how much research do you do about it?

  6. I don't need to research because I am very creative.
    I do research, but I never have enough time before my deadline to get it all done.
    I extensive research that includes character backstories, facts, and academic journals.
    Sometimes I get lost in the research and never write.

  7. How good are you at selling your ideas and yourself as an author to others?

  8. I hate interacting with other people in real life but I am okay on the computer.
    I enjoy interacting with other people in real life and online.
    Beyond my professional profile, website, and submitting job bids, I don't do much interaction.
    As long as I can communicate face-to-face, I do fine. I struggle online.

  9. What is your dream? (Pick the one that is most important to you.)

  10. To publish a book.
    To use my writing to make money and as a creative outlet (that may make money).
    To write faster and better so I can make enough money to survive.
    To be famous.

  11. How many books do you read in general each year?

  12. I constantly read for pleasure.
    I read for both pleasure and work.
    I only read if it is related to a writing project I am working on.
    I read less than one book a year.

  13. What kind of education do you have?

  14. Multiple degrees or some professional development education beyond the undergraduate level.
    Bachelors degree.
    High school diploma, and I attend writing seminars or conferences or took some college courses.
    High school diploma or less.

  15. Are you the member of a writing group?

  16. No. My employers are my critics.
    I have been a member, but I do not regularly attend.
    I am devoted to my writing group and only occasionally miss meetings.
    What is a writing group?

  17. What is the main topic you write about?

  18. I struggle devoting time to what others want to read and to what I want to write.
    Whatever my employers want it to be.
    I only write what I enjoy writing. Writing is a creative outlet.
    I like to share my life experiences.

  19. How do you feel about editing?

  20. I always do several passes over everything before I send it to an employer.
    I do most of my own editing but I also use an online editor or pay someone to edit my work.
    I hate editing. I usually let my word processing program do it for me.
    I think content is more important than grammar.

100-85 Professional: You write for a living and only write if you can make money from it.

84-55 Semi-professional: You are a mix of the writer and hobbyist. You refuse to give up your creative ideals but you still use writing to bring home the bacon.

25-54 Hobbyist: Writing is your creative outlet. If you make money off it someday, it will be a dream come true, but even if you don't you get a sense of accomplishment from creating the written word.

Less than 24 Writing isn't your thing. You have a story to tell, but you would rather just tell it. Although you don't mind writing some things, even the things you like to write about are not easy or as enjoyable. You would probably rather hire someone to write your autobiography than do it yourself.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Freedom to Practice My Religion or Forced Into Slavery? The Supreme Court Decides

Arguements in a monumental Supreme Court case are being held today that will affect my business. You see, I have no problem serving people across cultural and religious beliefs-as long as the job I am asked to do will not interfere with my own personal beliefs. That means I won't edit or write anything in support of Buddhism, Islam, or evolution. Despite the fact as a trained writer I can write, and write well, from any of those view points. The media and obviously those on the other side of the court case like to say I am discriminating by refusing to write certain things--but I don't refuse to work for anyone because of their beliefs. I refuse jobs.
The fact that it is the job I am refusing and not the person should be evident in that I also work as a dresser on the wardrobe crew for Broadway musicals that come through town. As a dresser, I consider myself a personal servant, of sorts, to the actors. Although I would never write an autobiography for anyone that glorifies their diverse religious beliefs and lifestyles, I would not think twice about reaching my hand into that same person's sweaty sock and turning it the right-side out to make it easier for him or her to put on the next time they need it.
A long time ago, this nation went to war. It went to war because it wanted to get rid of slavery. In a similar case where an employer attempted to force an employee to do something the employee did not want to do, the state of Indiana's Supreme Court ruled that forcing someone to do something against his or her beliefs is a form of slavery because you are forcing them to work for you. It was ruled that the employer could not force an employee to do anything. In other words, you can walk out and leave your job any time an employer asks you to do something you disagree with- why can't I have that same right? If you work in a restaurant that decides to become a strip bar, you cannot be compelled to continue working there if you don't want to do it.
As humans, we all have the right to pick our occupations. I can write blog posts, but as an independent business owner, I choose not to do it. Am I discriminating against bloggers? No. In the midst of all the media hype, please keep in mind this is not about discrimination, but about whether or not any free person can be forced to perform any job they are capable of doing.
Anyone who knows me knows that I will not accept any job that goes against my ethics. Period. I will continue to refuse jobs regardless of what the Supreme Court says because I have a higher Supreme Justice who is looking down on me. The importance of this case is that if the Supreme Court does not stand behind the baker, it will raise the insurance costs for writers and other independent business owners since they will be able to be sued for any project they refuse on "discrimination" grounds. It will bog down the legal system creating a myriad of similar cases. It will reinstate a form of slavery where writers and business operators can be compelled to perform any task they are capable of doing. A decision against the baker would also have me working out a plan to retire from freelancing as soon as possible. On the other hand, if the Supreme Court sides with the baker, I will be able to breathe easy knowing that I can continue to practice my religious beliefs free of persecution.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Writing quizzes. Part 2

So, after a month of writing quizzes, we had to enter them in to the quiz generator ourself, which made me discover I am working for a checkered employer because of all the advertising. However, entering the quizzes also took more time without extra pay.

Now, the whole idea (I guess) was to enter the quizzes directly and thus save time. But, this is bad on a number of levels. First, you don't have a record of your quiz. It is all saved on the employer's server. Although my work is solely the property of my employer, I need my records for several reasons. I must be able to see what I have already done so that if I need to create similar content, I don't accidentally write something that is the same. I also want proof that I have, in fact, written the work so that the employer can't say I didn't. If I have a time dated Word doc on my computer with the content, I can prove it was mine. I also want records so that if the employer accidentally deletes content, it is easy for me to return it to them (this has happened to me- over a year after finishing a project an employer contacted me to say the documents I sent had been deleted and did I happen to still have a copy of them). Finally, some legal things could come up. If I have to go to court, I want records of what I have done.

Now, in the case of my employer, they wanted us to edit our quizzes with Grammarly. I might be able to download the app into my browser, but I prefer cutting and pasting. It is easier than learning how to use a new tool that may or may not save me time (and that may or may not cost me time by slowing down my browser).

In addition, the website saving process is not all that stable. I did initially try just entering the quizzes, but not only was this bulky, but also I ended up losing at least one quiz and having to start again from scratch. Even a year later, saving is still quirky. It is never worth it to lose work. Saving and backing up is always important. External, small, jump/thumb/flash drives are very nice. Periodically saving important files to CD or other hard storage device (or even printing it out if you have enough room) is also good.

The bottom line was that not only did the employers make the jobs more time consuming (by about 20 minutes to 1 hour) but also they created problems with maintaining a copy. Even if I did not want a copy, it took longer to open and close each question, create new questions, and navigate in the quiz maker. I was disgruntled, but mainly I just chose fewer quizzes and did more outside work. But, quiz work was regular so I kept with it.

Note to employers: If you change the job and make it more difficult, please increase the pay. I am sure my employers lost many good freelancers because of this. I can also tell by the current batch of freelancers that many of them are okay, but definitely not the best.