We are lucky. As writers, we have many avenues for expressing ourselves. For example, we could start a blog post with a long, boring list of poetry types and fiction genres and so on, which is probably where you thought I was going with this third sentence. Please slap me if I ever get that boring and predictable.
Nay. I assume you’ve already heard of Haiku and will now move on to the steak and potatoes.
Being a bestselling novelist is the top of the pops for writing cachet. Successful screenplays will get you more free cocaine and hookers, but the average consumer is unlikely to know who wrote the latest Transformers script. They certainly know who Stephen King and Dan Brown are.
For most of us in the real world, getting noticed for our work, much less getting paid, is a challenge. Going into journalism is perhaps the most obvious path to writing for money and getting your name in lights (if people’s laptop screens count as “lights”). Unless you have been living on an island and thought the Panama invasion was still going on, you know that staff journalists are an endangered species and that most bylined writers are freelancers now. This is great for everybody. The news and entertainment organizations don’t have to pay health benefits and can grind you up like old newspaper in a shredder, and you… Okay. Maybe it’s just good for them.
However, the least glamorous, most anonymous and unheralded writing you can do is corporate writing. It’s also the steadiest paycheck.
Corporate writing doesn’t earn you a byline. Chances are, the reader will never know your name. You write training manuals and reports and summaries and evaluations and proposals and other documents read by other people in other office buildings. No one cares about your personal expression. Your writing voice is The Company.
Then, every two weeks, they hand you a check. And you go, “Yeah, boy,” because now you can pay rent and stock up on cupcakes and buy stuff you don’t need on Amazon.
If you’re thinking of taking your writing skills to the corporate world but need more 411, here are some pros and cons:
Pro: Duh. I already told you: paycheck. And you don’t convince anyone to let you write for money. They give you stuff to write.
Con: They give you stuff nobody else wants to or can write.
Con: You know how sometimes you just don’t feel like writing ‘cause you’re tired and not in the mood? Guess what. Deadlines don’t care about your mood, and neither does your boss. You gotta suck it up and write for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or they’ll find someone else.
Pro: You learn to meet deadlines. There’s no procrastination when a client needs a report by 2 p.m. and you got the assignment at 1 p.m. You’ll end up managing your personal writing time better, too.
Con: Sometimes you hit The Wall, and I don’t mean that quasi-religious song by Kansas (it’s on their Leftoverture album). I mean, sometimes your work is repetitious in ways you can’t imagine if you’ve never done cubicle writing. Like last year when I had to write about 85 unique evaluations based on 85 nearly identical data sets in one week. My desk still has the indentation where I smacked my forehead into it around report #60.
Pro: You learn discipline. You power through, and you feel like a professional knowing that lesser humans would have cracked.
Pro: Everyone thinks you’re smart. Unlike math experts who don’t get to show off their number skills very often in conversation, writers have opportunities to strut their stuff every day. During a recent meeting, I fumbled in search of a word, and a co-worker from another department was so happy. She said she feels nervous speaking in front of us and was glad to know we have our inarticulate moments too.
Pro: You are often surrounded by like-minded people who can’t find a damn agent, either. Misery loves company?
Pro: You learn new writing skills, like composing the dull-sounding stuff I described above. Hey, you can do something you couldn’t do before!
Con: After staring at a monitor all day, the last thing you want to do at home is stare some more.
Pro: I have no pro. Trying to get motivated after work writing all day is my biggest struggle, only ever overcome through discipline and inconsistent bouts of inspiration. Then again, I haven’t tried the cocaine-and-hookers route yet.
Talk to me!