Thinking of Writing as Your Career

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
by Lululemon Athletica (
A new class I'm teaching next week, "Writing for Children," focuses on thinking of writing for children (in magazines or books) as a career. In this class, we do a lot of goal setting and "dreaming"--what do you want to accomplish in six months, what do you hope to complete in one year, and what do you see your writing life like in five years. Some writers don't like to think about this--they want to be inspired by the muse and hope that the Fates will allow them to be published if it's "in the cards." But as a children's writer, I think it is extremely important to think about these short and long term goals and to consider writing as a career--even if you are also a nurse, teacher, plumber, stay-at-home mom, store owner, chef, etc.

If you don't take yourself and your career seriously, then no one else will. You will find your time to write taken up by all the other things in your life that take up your time now, and you will not be as productive as a writer.

When you use the word "career," you automatically start to take yourself more seriously. Consider the following two conversations.

Conversation A (between WOW! online student Gertrude and her husband, Mr. Understanding):

Gertrude: My new online class for WOW! starts today. It's about writing for children. You know how I've always been dabbling around in this, sweetie, wanting to write down the grandkids' stories for them.

Mr. Understanding: Yes, it's a wonderful hobby for you now that you're retired. I'll love to read your stories, and maybe you can get one or two published in that one magazine at our dentist's office.

Gertrude: Oh, wouldn't that be exciting to have someone else read what I've written. I'll make that my one-year goal--to get a story down and send it off to that magazine.

Mr. Understanding: Yes, goals are so important--my goal is to get my workshop cleaned out this summer.  Do you want to help me? It doesn't take that long to write a story for  kids, does it?

Conversation B (between WOW! online student Marge and her husband, Mr. Sensitive):

Marge: Honey, my new online class starts tomorrow, and I can't wait to take hold of my new career--writing for children.

Mr. Sensitive: Whoa, hold on here, Marge. What do you mean new career? Since when are you a professional writer?

Marge: Since I decided to be when I signed up for this class--our instructor is going to teach us to set goals and how to plan five years down the road to have the kind of career in writing we want. Plus she's going to help us send our stories to agents and editors.

Mr. Sensitive: You mean, you're going to be a writer--like when people ask you what you do, you are going to say, "I'm a writer." When are you going to help me paint my office?

Marge: (trying not to roll her eyes) Yes, exactly. I am a writer. This is my career, and I'm going for it. You'll have to ask your brother to help you paint.

Although these conversations are a little exaggerated, you get the point. You don't really have to take a class to get this attitude, but I think we all need to think like this. If you are working on a novel or a short story or an article--that you are planning to publish or show to anyone else--then you are a professional writer, and you have a career in writing. It's no different than a career in medicine or education or business. Your career should be important to you, you should have goals and aspirations, and you should be taken seriously.

So, come on, join the movement and start calling your writing your career today!

If you are interested in Margo's Writing For Children class, it starts online on March 4 (and it is CURRENTLY ON SALE!). For more details and to sign up, go to the WOW! Classroom. ( ). You can also e-mail Margo at margo (at) with any questions. Margo's first children's novel was out in October 2012, and she has two picture books under contract also. 



Unknown said...

I spent 22 years at a career in higher ed. I attended workshops, associated with colleagues, grew in my position, had work goals and measurable outcomes. Now I write and to me, the pursuit is similar. Except I get such greater control, satisfaction and creative outlets!

Margo Dill said...

I think you are exactly right. I do think it is similar, but for some reason, it is hard to say, "Writing is my job/career." Even yesterday, when I was on a school visit as an author, and a 5th grader asked me, "Is writing your job?" I had a hard time saying, "Yes." But I did say it! :)

Destiny Allison said...

Good point Margo, and exactly right. If authors don't take themselves seriously, all the doubt becomes justification for not working. Appreciate the post.

Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Destiny! It's good to hear from you! Hope all is going well with your writing CAREER! :)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Your examples made me laugh!! Mr. Understanding and Mr. Sensitive need to meet so they can help each other with their household projects. LOL

Seriously though, you make a great point. I think it's important to have a talk with the family and tell them that writing is our career. We should also give them guidelines on how to help us! Create a work schedule and tell them when we are working and when we are free to help them paint their office or whatever. ;)

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