Answering the What Do You Do Question When You’re a Writer

It’s the funniest thing. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them, “I’m a writer.” The standard response is, “No, really, what do you do?” Somehow, I always flounder in the conversation because I never expect that type of response.

So, how do you know you’re a real writer?

It has to be a certain look or smell that identifies a writer. Is it the turtleneck and mothball odor that gives it away? Perhaps it’s the old blue jeans you wore for a week or two.

Generally, my rule of thumb is: if you can sell your ideas and make money writing, you’re “a writer!” If you sit and write all day long and never sell anything, then “you write.” So, in summary: “you write until you become a writer!”

But, this is very true! To become a writer, you have to write every day. You should think of a dozen or so topics and write about them. This will help you learn your style and develop your skills.

If you write, but are not yet a writer, here’s an objective! Write, until you sell something. Once you get the money, pay your gas bill. Now, you’re a writer! But, don’t stop with just one article, keep going!

Hey Ed! Say something funny.

It just doesn’t happen like that. I’m not a funny guy. If I sit down and design something funny, I can be hilarious. But, I can’t just say something funny.

On the other hand, ideas are things that just happen. But, developing and writing that idea takes work. The act of writing doesn’t “just happen.”

When writing about an idea, you have to research the idea to determine if it’s feasible. If it looks good, then you have to research it again to become an expert – or at least knowledgeable on the topic.

The other point to writing is that you have to feel the writing. This goes back to one of my previous articles, “Natural Writing.” You have to learn your verbal style before you can become comfortable with your written style. Once you understand your own style of communicating, stick with it as it’s the most comfortable place to start. Let it evolve, but stay with it to ensure that the writing feels good and flows.