IWSG 76: The Working Writer


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Jemima Pett | Beth Camp|Beverly Stowe McClure | Gwen Gardner


When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?


I know what I think, but often that is so off kilter that I thought I’d better do an internet search to find out the rest of the world thinks.

Then I’ll argue my point of view as skewed as it is. *snort*

One website post suggested that anyone could determine if they were a writer if they read the ten suggested titles and stuck to a routine. Newbies drink this Kool-Aid—and they aren’t wrong—because we all know that the more we write the better we get.

But does that make us a working writer?

Chances are pretty good that you’re telling stories for other people to read and enjoy. If that’s true, then the bare bones truth is that you need to start thinking of yourself as not only an artist — but a business person.

Every writer owns a small business. We’re all start-ups.

From Medium.com

Fine, if we produce something we can sell, we could call ourselves a small business. Does that earn anyone the title of working writer?

I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

However, I do agree that dragging something out of our imaginations and making it available for others to consume is being an artist.


If you write, you are a writer. That’s pretty much how the definition works.

And you are a working writer.

The type of work you do, writing-related or otherwise, does not make you more or less legitimate. Starving does not make you better.

What It Means to Be a Working Writer, March 4, 2019, By Greer Macallister

I wholeheartedly agree with Greer. People work in the home. They work in the yard. Not many determine if their work is of value by being paid. Raise a child. Mow the lawn. They simply have value.

The end result: a happy child playing on a nicely trimmed lawn.

I think I smell barbecue.

What was I saying?

Oh, right!

Money has nothing to do with being a working writer. Time, effort, patience, digging deep are all the sure signs of what a working writer is all about. Writing is hard work. Putting down a sentence that means something is hard work.

Actually finishing a story—short or long—is hard work.

So if you ever wonder if you are a working writer, look at what you’ve accomplished in your writing career. Reread some of your work.

Remember: Not everyone can do what you do, but almost everyone can mow a lawn.

What do you think? Are you a working writer?

Gleaned from:

56 responses to “IWSG 76: The Working Writer

  1. Happy Hop Day Anna. I like your research and your definitions. I definitely dig deep!

  2. Natalie Aguirre

    I agree with you that you don’t have to make money to be defined as a working writer.

  3. Hi,
    I so agree with you. Time, effort, patience, perseverance, learning techniques, and tools to put together a story that lifts people up out of their common everyday world are what an author does and his or her story transfers people to another reality and gives them hope.
    It has very little to do with making money but the money does help you take care of yourself and others.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  4. Working on anything writing related is being a working writer.

  5. I work, and I write… but often when I work, I’m not writing, so I don’t feel that counts. I’m definitely more of a hobbyist when it comes to writing. It might take me a decade to get there, but I will eventually get these books done.

  6. Wow, these are totally interesting points! I love how you describe writing and sticking to it as hard work even if you don’t earn an income from it.

  7. Good post! I’ve heard/read lots of interviews with “overnight success” authors who toiled away for years before their breakout debut novels ever saw the light of day. Most of them had written several practice novels. If you’re doing the work, you’re a working writer.

    I clicked on your link and I got catfished. You may want to look into that.

  8. “If you writer, you’re a writer.” That says it perfectly!

  9. I’m often writing in my head even when I’m not sitting in front of a computer or don’t have a pen handy. I suspect the only time I’m not writing is when I’m sleeping. And even then a dream might spark a story

  10. I like your selection of sources. You’re definitely a working writer.

  11. That’s about where I landed, too, on the question. I think writing makes us writers, and we need to value our work.

  12. Nice! I agree – writing is definitely work so we’re all working at improving all the time. And having fun!!

  13. Debbie Johansson

    Yes! If you write, then you’re a writer. We do it because we love it. 🙂

  14. I like your definition of a working writer.

  15. Anyone who is working on writing at the moment… for a career, pleasure etc.

  16. I take the working part more literal as in earning, which I defined for myself as income streams. Because working in writing took me from poverty to a better quality of life overnight. I never thought writing would be the job that did it at least not at first. Part of me believe it was an out of reach dream—now making a living with my fiction that is the biggest part of that dream. Not there yet, but one day, maybe.

    BUT in the way you put it and define it, by any of those definitions—I have been a hard-working writer since my teens. And I agree it is not about money or totally publishing but about the love of the written word and pursuing it in whatever shape or form make you happy as the writer.

  17. Ronel Janse van Vuuren

    I love your definition!

    Ronel visiting on IWSG day Revamp Your Backlist

  18. I like how you researched this topic and shared the info with us. However, I believe working means receiving payment for your efforts. I have always thought it odd that a mother is a working mother if she works outside of the house, but just a mother when she stays home. Mother means working a lot of jobs with that title. And it is a 24-hour job! Always on call. !!!
    JQ Rose

  19. Love, love, love your post. Very thorough and excellent conclusion. Thanks for doing the research. Sometimes I think everyone can do what I’m doing, it is just writing, right? But perhaps not. I feel like writing is just a product of time passing, but who am I to say that others can produce the same things with their time?

  20. What an insightful post! I think all of your points are very true. I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur and writing is one small business that I have. I enjoy the creative and the business side of things.

  21. Yeah, I like your way of looking at the term working writer. I hadn’t thought about it like that! I know a few professional writers and they sit at their desks all day every week day, so that’s what I was basing my thinking on. However, if I take your definition, then I am a working writer! 🙂

  22. I love your post. I also love writing. Hopefully, others find my stories interesting enough to read them. What more could we ask? Oh, how about being paid well for our efforts? LOL Some day!

  23. I agree, being a working writer has nothing to do with money, but it would be nice to be a paid working writer.

  24. Those are reassuring words. Loved the research.

  25. I think from your definition, I’m a working writer. 😉

  26. I used to wonder if writing inside my head is writing. But what I’m doing is letting the story marinate a little longer before I draw it out of my head to paper. Either way, I’m writing. If not everyday, I’m writing. Working or hobbyist I’m still a writer.

  27. Well… if you look at it THAT way… Yes, of course, then I am a working writer. Maybe we should redefine the word “work” as it still often implies making money with something.

  28. I’m impressed with your research. Lot’s to think about. This was one of my favorites “…dragging something out of our imaginations and making it available for others to consume is being an artist.”

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