Writing in the 21st Century

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My name is Kaitlyn and I’m a writer.  Usually when I say this, silence enters the conversation.

“You’re a journalist?” my stranger or family member will finally ask.

“Not quite,” I say.

“So you write books.”

“I’m trying,” I’ll confess.

This is where the conversation gets awkward and trickles into talk about the spinach dip at the party or the hot or cold or rainy or windy weather outside.

It is still a misconception that journalist and author are the only careers for writers (or, at least, a way to make money).  And this is quite surprising because, now with technology rapidly advancing, the application of words surrounds us.  We read blogs, social media posts, websites, emails, catalogs, billboards, manuals, brochures, posters, recipes, travel guides, print and (whether we want to or not) online ads–the list is almost endless.

And who wrote those?  It was a writer.

Today, with these ever-changing advancements, writers disguise themselves behind different names, such as marketing manager or communications coordinator or social media specialist or filmmaker or publisher or professor or tutor or translator or agent or publicist or columnist or critic.  These professions may not allow the writer to write 100% of the time, but the writer is still writing about something important to an audience that has a demand for it.

And doesn’t the writer love an audience!

I surely didn’t understand this when I was eighteen.  My plan was to write a novel while I studied creative writing at college, believing that I would have a publishing contract and book tour waiting for me on the other side of the graduation stage.  But when I barely could crank out five chapters by the end of my senior year, I was relieved that I got accepted into an M.F.A. program.  I thought for sure that, after three grueling years of perfecting my craft, my graduate thesis would be the polished manuscript every publishing house wanted.

Let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned.

I had my aha! moment when I got my first office job as a marketing assistant at Columbia College Chicago.  I found it strange that the marketing department wanted someone with creative writing experience, but after the copywriting and campaigning and event planning and social media-ing, it made sense.  Marketing depends on accurate research, creative problem solving, understanding the target audience, seeing the big picture and scrutinizing over miniscule details, and (of course) immaculate writing skills.  This is exactly what the writer in me loves to do, but I was so fixated on my one goal to be an author that I had closed my eyes for a long time to the other numerous possibilities of fulfillment in writing field.

I am a writer.  I’m still searching (longer than I’d like to admit) for that full-time career in any writing guise, but I’m always writing.  I’m writing my novel-in-progress, sketches for plays, cover letters, queries, and now–a blog.

13 thoughts on “Writing in the 21st Century

  1. Throughout high school, I would consider myself a writer and tell people I write. Sadly, I didn’t write. I was lying. I couldn’t wright as much as I love to. I read books constantly and still do.
    I participated in NaNoWriMo this year and last year. Sadly I did not complete the required word count.

    What I’m trying to get here is I feel your struggle. As a sophomore in college, it is hard to find time to write between class time, studying and working 40hrs at a local grocery store.
    I have found time to write and made time for leisurely reading. My major is History and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet. My life goal is to write and have published a young adult fiction novel like John Green or Maureen Johnson.

    This is inspiration that even life goals can be masked behind such titles as “marketing assistant”.

    🙂

    -Harley D.

    • I’m impressed that you participated in NaNoWriMo! That’s the literary equivalent of a marathon, and even running half the marathon is still 13.1 miles. I’m a long-distance runner, and even that’s a grueling distance to do all at once!

      So stay proud. You keep coming back to writing your manuscript after failing over and over again. The ones that are published are the ones that keep at it.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

    • feckthisshit

      Me too. I travelled for the last year and wrote down my events as I went along. Now that I’m home, I’ve created a blog and it seems to be gaining traction. When I say that I’d like to pursue where this takes me (I’ve written over 90,000 words so far although they haven’t all been uploaded into my blog yet() family members and friends just say, “oh right. So you’re writing now. What about getting an actual job”. Annoying as hell. People don’t understand the creative writing process. Especially nowadays when everybody is connected to a device of some sort. When those people see you on your computer, they just automatically assume your on Facebook or Twitter as opposed being productive. Try telling a nine to fiver that you probably did more work creatively than them before lunchtime than they did in their entire week. ANyways, rant over. I really like this post. It really sums up the misconceptions towards writers be it of any genre.

      • feckthisshit, I totally dig your rant. It’s like we have to prove that we’re being productive on the computer, and why are writers assumed guilty before being proven innocent? Or how others expect you to fail before you have a chance to succeed. So when we actually do succeed, the success is twice as impressive because we have defeated their prejudices.

        I am impressed with all your hard work in travel writing! Any advice about getting into the business would be well appreciated here.

        Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

      • feckthisshit

        The only advice I could offer would be to just keep the head down, block out anything negative that anyone might say and keep writing. I’m new to it so I’m not sure yet about the ins and outs of publishing so I’m just focusing on getting my writing finished first. After that, it’ll be time to scour, pester and harass the publishers! Ha!!

    • Eric, I dread that question too! I never know how truthful or long of an answer I’m expected to give.

      And another awkward question: “What’s your story about?”

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

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