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Ready to WRITE–Engage!

Friday, September 28, 2007

What are the differences between a hobby, a job, and a career?

A hobby is something we do in our spare time—when all of our responsibilities are, for the moment, completed—for entertainment purposes. We pursue hobbies based out of our interests and talents, but they’re activities we do just for pleasure and relaxation.

A job, by definition, is a specific task or responsibility done by assignment and/or for pay—something we are expected or obligated to do. By connotation, a job is something that we do to pay the bills.

A career is, technically, another word for our job—but it’s a field, a specific occupation, we’ve pursued based on our interests, skills, and talents. It’s what we want our life’s work to be.

One of my hobbies recently has become crocheting. I also enjoy drawing, reading, and watching movies.

In 1992, when I dropped out of college, I had to get a full-time job. From then until 2006, I worked in four different jobs, the longest being ten years as the executive assistant/office manager of the retail advertising department at Nashville’s daily newspaper. I was good at my job, got a promotion, enjoyed some of the people I worked with, was involved in department- and company-wide committees/task forces, and was a “go-to” person when the publisher needed a PowerPoint presentation or when HR needed a department liaison. But it was just a job. Even with as long as I worked there, I knew it wasn’t my life’s work. I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life—or even another five years! It allowed me to pay my bills and was, for the most part, flexible enough to allow me to finish college and grad school.

In May 2006, I started my career—the first step as a copy editor at a small publishing house. This job is the one that I look forward to doing. It fulfills me. Even when it’s at its most stressful, I’m willing to stick it out because this is what I’ve always dreamed of doing: working in the publishing industry. Getting books into readers’ hands.

So where does writing fit in?

Until 1989, I didn’t consider writing to be anything other than a hobby—a necessity, actually, to keep myself centered and sane. 🙂 Then, at LSU, I tried majoring in Creative Writing, thinking that would be my career path—either teaching or working in the publishing industry. But things didn’t go well, and I dropped out. Writing once again became a hobby as I moved into the “job” world. But the call to pursue a life-work wouldn’t leave me alone, so I went back to school. In that process, I discovered that both writing and becoming an editor were what I was being called to pursue as my career. I’ve succeeded in moving into the editor career . . . and I’m actively pursuing the writing career.

Which brings us to today’s letter . . .


Effort. Writing isn’t easy. I’ve already discussed the importance of learning the craft, of studying and constantly working to improve the strength of our writing. At the conference last week, James Scott Bell said something I’d never heard put so succinctly: there are a lot of people who want to write, but there are a lot more who want to have written. They don’t want to put the time in to sit at the computer for hours and hours composing the story, then twice or three times as many hours editing and revising and critiquing. This is when everyone who wants to “be a writer” learns whether it’s truly their life’s work, a job, or just a hobby.

Enthusiasm. Whether you’re pursuing writing as a hobby or a career, I hope it never becomes just a job for you. Sure, there are going to be some times when we don’t feel like writing, but to follow the “write every day” advice, we force ourselves to do it. But we shouldn’t approach it with the attitude of, “I have to write one thousand words today.” We should try to develop the attitude of, “Wow, I get to do what I love doing today, and I’m going to have fun doing it!” If you’ve lost your enthusiasm for writing, if it’s become just a job, a responsibility, maybe it’s time to take a break from it. I did this after completing my second complete manuscript. I finished it in early November 2002 and all through the holidays, I not only didn’t want to write, I wasn’t sure if I would write again for a long time. Then, on December 30, I was scheduled for an MRI. As I lay in the tube listening to greatest-hits-of-the-eighties radio station trying not to think about the close quarters, I was suddenly developing the entire plot structure for a new novel in my head. As soon as I got home, I committed the synopsis to paper and started writing. I completed that manuscript in four months—while working full time and taking three undergrad classes. If you’ve lost your enthusiasm, please step back from writing. Take a break. Refresh yourself mentally and spiritually. Pursue some other interests for a while. Don’t let writing become just a job.

Engage! On Star Trek: The Next Generation, this is what Captain Picard always said when he wanted the pilot to start the engines and go. This is what I now say to you: ENGAGE! Go write. Go read a book on craft. Go get your proposal sent out to that editor who requested it at the conference. Go read a book in the genre you want to be published in. Go critique those chapters from your crit partner. Go find out why you have a passion for writing and pursue it with every fiber of your being.

  1. Friday, September 28, 2007 10:58 am

    Hey, looking forward to it, but I know you’re on deadline. I’ll be looking forward also to the next round of PITV. 😀


  2. Melinda (Marmie) Smith permalink
    Friday, September 28, 2007 1:06 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this week’s posts! I got my “notebook” out this morning & went back over the series & made 3 pages (front & back) of notes. Thanks for giving a good review of the conference!


  3. Friday, September 28, 2007 6:47 pm

    Excellent post. It’s hard to believe that people actually get to the point of thinking of writing as a job. I’ve never been able to devote so much time to it that I could even imagine thinking in those terms. Ah, maybe someday.


  4. Friday, September 28, 2007 7:54 pm

    I can easily see how it can happen–it happened to me when I was in grad school and I had to write and I had to revise. I can only imagine that contracted/published authors can fall prey to this, too.


  5. Saturday, September 29, 2007 11:01 pm

    Great series of posts, Kaye! I think I’m printing these out for my inspiration folder.

    I can understand how writers might start to feel its a job, but I hope I never feel that. I’ll try to remember how it was (is now) when I had to work and wanted to write, how my job, for which I have no passion, began to feel like a nuisance while writing gave me joy. I hope to blessed such that I’m in a position to need to remember this.


  6. Monday, December 12, 2016 6:55 pm

    I really appreciate the added Scriptures. Reading The Lord’s Prayer from a writer’s perspective immediately gave me peace. It reminds me that He’s right here writing through me and I have nothing to fear. Really great inspirational post! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person


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