About the Episode
Deep down, everyone has a drive to create and it comes out in the most beautiful and diverse ways from the obvious forms of art to the not so obvious like the corner drug store. There’s creativity all around us, and for some of us that creativity comes out in the form of writing. While all of us experience and process the world through this writing lens, not all of us want to make a living from it. Understanding the differences between being a writer and having a writing career will help you make some key decisions moving forward.
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[00:00:00] Deep down, everyone has a drive to create and it comes out in the most beautiful and diverse ways from the obvious forms of art to the not so obvious like the corner drug store. There’s creativity all around us, and for some of us that creativity comes out in the form of writing. While all of us experience and process the world through this writing lens, not all of us want to make a living from it. Understanding the differences between being a writer and having a writing career will help you make some key decisions moving forward.
Hi, I’m Rachel Fahrenbach. I help Christian Writers craft and publish a novel with an engaged audience ready to buy it. And today we’re going to be talking about this difference of being a writer and having a writing career.
There’s three differences I wanna cover. But first I wanna say that being a writer is a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful way to experience the world. And if we get to the end of our conversation today and you realize you do not [00:01:00] want to be what I call a career writer, just know that there is nothing wrong with that. And that I hope you continue to make time to write even if your words never end up in front of a reader.
Now the first key difference between a writer, a general writer, and a career writer, I would say is compulsion. Now, what do I mean by that? For the general writer, the compulsion comes from the need to explore. They need to explore their thoughts, their ideas. They need to explore an experience that they went through. They need to explore a scene in their mind of general writer right to process the world. And oftentimes they write to heal.
They write to heal from the experiences that they have gone through. They write to understand the experiences that they have gone to. They’re essentially writing for themselves. Now, these [00:02:00] writers often feel better when they have regular rhythms of writing in their life, but they don’t feel a drive to have it in their every day. They don’t have a need for it to be there every single day of the week. Now a career writer on the other hand, they don’t write to explore. They write to share, to share a world, to share thoughts, to share ideas, to share a scene, to share dialogue, to share a character. They write to share. They write to an audience. They write to help somebody heal. They write to help somebody experience something. They write to help somebody understand. They write to help somebody identify. The compulsion behind why a career writer writes is other focused. It’s not inward. It is outward. A career writer feels better when they’re writing regularly and they get excited about trying to find more times [00:03:00] to write.
They get excited about making a part of their day, and they’re willing to give up other things for that. Career writers start out as general writers. They start out writing for themselves, and then they shift into this other focused mentality of writing.
The next key difference I wanna talk about is income and the different mindsets that the general writer and the career writer have towards income. A general writer is going to approach writing With the mentality that it would be nice to make some money off of this writing. It would be nice to generate some income off of it, but they don’t expect it. They have no expectations that their writing is going to generate an income for themselves.
The career writer, on the other hand, has that expectation. They have an expectation of generating income. Now, the level of income can vary greatly. Some writers just want a side gig. They just want it to be [00:04:00] a side gig, just bringing in a little bit extra dough. But they do want that. They have that expectation and others want this to replace a huge chunk of income. They wanna stop working their nine to five and just write novels.
So like there’s various levels of what that means, what generating income means for people. What generating income means for a career writer. But the key here is that they expect that it’s going to generate an income. And so they’re willing to invest their time, their money, their energy into crafting a great story, and they’re expecting that there’s going to be return on that investment.
So there’s one more key difference that I wanna discuss with you. But before we do, I just wanna remind you, hit the subscribe button on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, wherever you are listening or watching this episode so you don’t miss any future conversations about the business of Christian fiction.
This last key here, I think is probably one of the most significant differences between a general writer and a career writer.[00:05:00] And that difference, it’s the level of commitment that they put into this writing life. Let me just kind of compare and contrast for you the differences between the level of commitment a general writer has and the level of commitment a career writer has.
Okay. So a general writer, they set aside time to write. It’s important to them, they make it happen. Um, they look at their schedule and they figure out some writing times, and then they do it because they know they feel better when they’re writing.
But a career writer is one that prioritizes writing. They don’t just set aside the time to write, they prioritize it. They make writing times and they view it as their job to show up to those writing times. They view it as a non-negotiable. This is something that they have set aside. It’s important to them. They’re prioritizing it, and if they’re valuing it. Because if they do not get that writing time, they do not make money later on. It’s their job and they’re showing up to it.
A general writer typically [00:06:00] has maybe one or two stories that they really think would be a great book idea, but that’s kind of where it stops. They write about things here and there, maybe snippets, a career writer, however, has numerous story ideas that they wanna get to their reader. So many ideas in fact that it’s often frustrating to them that they just know there’s not even enough time to get all the stories out. That’s how many stories. They are just constantly plagued by. It’s just the way that their brains work. They have novels that they want to share, and they’re not gonna have to spin their wheels to think up the next one. The next ones are already coming and they’re jotting them down in a journal to keep safe for later on. But for right now they, it’s almost, almost frustrating how slow it takes to write and publish a book because there’s just so many ideas and stories that they wanna share with the world.
okay. Another way that the level commitment differs between a general writer and a career writer [00:07:00] is The level of commitment to investing time, money, and energy into learning, into improving their craft, into learning all the things that they need in this publishing industry. So that’s things like, Books and trainings on writing business, marketing, specific technology and social media platforms.
The career writer is willing to invest that time and energy and money even. They’re going to take the workshop on how to improve your Instagram reach. They’re gonna take the workshop on how to tighten up their prose. They’re gonna read books about productivity. They’re going to read books about creativity. They’re going to read these things and take these trainings because they know that they need to invest in their craft.
The general writer may or may not read a book or here or there. They may or may not, uh, attend a workshop here or there to tighten up their craft. They want to, but it’s not that same level of commitment to [00:08:00] investing in that craft of writing.
Another way that they differ and their level of commitment is writing communities. A general writer may or may not be a part of a writing community, and they may or may not attend a sporadic writing event. And I keep saying may or may not because different writers are different and like some writers are really all about going to different writing events, even though they’re not career writers. Other, um, general writers are part of local writing groups or they’re part of online writing groups. So they may or may. The difference in level commitment though with a career writer is that it’s a non-negotiable. If you are a career writer, you’re involved in writing communities, you’re involved in going to conferences, you are part of different opportunities to make connections.
You’re committed to making that happen. And that’s why I’m saying that the difference in the level of commitment is there a general writer, it’s like an optional thing. [00:09:00] And to a career writer, it’s a non-negotiable. You have to be involved in a writing community to be a career writer.
Just a side note here, just a note here, a little asterisk. Just because I’m saying that you need to invest time into the writing communities if you’re going to be a career writer or invest time into going to a conference or all the things it, that level of investment varies by person.
There’s some people who can afford to go to in person event, in person conferences. That was not all always my case. Like I have just recently been able to start going to conferences. But the beautiful thing is in this post pandemic world that we live in, zoom and other online streaming platforms have created an opportunity for you to attend conferences without having to go there.
So you’re able to watch live streams and get that training. Um, you’re able to sometimes join into b breakout rooms and meet other writers. There’s online writing communities that are free on Facebook and all the things. So having said all that, [00:10:00] just because I’m saying that you career writer is committed to investing that level of investment of time, energy, and resources of money. That level of investment of time, energy, and money is, is different for every career writer.
Another way that they differ in their level of commitment is that a general writer approaches social media very casually, and a career writer approaches social media with a strategic plan and purpose. They are there to connect to a reader. They’re there to get their reader ready for their novel. That is why they engage on social media. They’re there to make connections with other writers, different collaborative, um, opportunities. They’re showing up strategically. A general writer may share some thoughts here and there. They may talk about their every day they’re very casual about social media. They don’t have a specific strategic plan or purpose that they’re [00:11:00] implementing on social media.
Now that you’ve heard the differences between what compels a general writer and what compels a career writer, the differences in mindset about income from a general writer and a career writer, and even the differences in the level of commitment from a general writer to a career writer, you are now able to make a decision about your writing life.
and Let me say, all three of these decisions you could possibly make are good and valid decisions. One is not better than the other. This is just a clarifying decision on your writing life.
So you can either decide that you are a general writer, you are good with that, and that is okay. Or you can decide to be a career writer. Or you can decide to be a general writer who later on down the road will become a career writer. All three are valid decisions. All three are good decisions.
Like I said at the top of the episode, not every [00:12:00] one of us writers is going to want to pursue writing as a career, but if you are listening to this episode and you are thinking, This is me. I am that writer. I want to be a career writer. I have stories to tell. I’m willing to invest. I want a return on my investment. If that’s you, fabulous. Make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast so that we can continue having these conversations about what it means to be a career writer and the whole business of Christian fiction.
And if you haven’t formally written down your commitment to pursue writing as a career, can I encourage you to do that today? Over on my website, I have a pledge that I’ve written up for you. Rachelfahrenbach.com/resources. You can fill in your name, you can date it and sign it. Make today the day that you move from being a writer to having a writing career.
If you have a friend that’s a writer on the fence about what they want from their writing life, would you share [00:13:00] this episode with them? Hearing the differences between being a general writer and a career writer may help them get some clarity on their own writing life.
Until next time, happy writing. Goodbye.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.
And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.