Some writers have the luxury of being able to wait for their muse to speak. They run blogs about their own personal obsessions or they write fiction or poetry only when the mood suits them. Being a writer for hire means that we’re not guided by our muses, and we’re not guided by our own personal interests. We have bills to pay, and that means that we start writing as soon as we’ve had that first cup of coffee, and we write about whatever we’re asked to write about.
To an amateur writer, to someone who only writes for fun, to someone who is lucky enough to find an audience without ever needing to step outside of their comfort zone, this sounds like something of a sacrifice, perhaps they think that it cheapens the craft to turn one’s abilities towards septic tank installation or ad copy for a new energy drink. In truth, writing for hire can be both empowering and liberating for a writer.
Someone who mainly sticks to a single niche, who only writes when the mood really strikes them, they might not see the writing prompts that a writer for hire sees. Writing for hire means that one day you might be asked to produce a blog post comparing yogurt brands, and the next you could be writing a press release for an automotive lubricant oil. We have our specialties, our top clients might come to us because we’re the best writer they’re going to find when they want someone to review sportswear for them, but the demand for content in that specialty might not always be strong enough to meet our monthly expenses, so a writer for hire is always ready to spin five hundred words on literally anything.
Do you have any idea what sort of an advantage this gives you when you’re arguing with people on the internet? When someone quotes bunk statistics to support their viewpoint, you either know the real numbers, or you know how to find them, because more than writing, your real ability is the that you can become an armchair expert on any subject with five minutes of Googling.
Winning arguments on the internet is just one (pretty silly) example, of course. A famous writer once said something to the effect of: “I know a little bit about nearly everything and a whole lot about nothing.” If I knew a little more about literature, I’d be able to remember who said that. In any event, maybe the most important thing that you learn in writing for hire is how to find literally anything interesting. If nothing else, this ability can sure make a boring date go by more quickly.
Gilbert S is a writer and artist who lives in rural New Mexico with his wife, and his dog, Sir Kay.