Thursday, March 8, 2012

Best and Worst of the Digital Writing Life

By C.J. West

When my last physical was over, my doctor asked, “You still writing suspense novels?”

“Absolutely.” I smiled.

“But what do you do to make a living?” he asked.

If I sold a book for every time I heard that one...

Then yesterday someone asked about my schedule and was surprised that I usually work well past midnight. That’s if you call what I do work. I love writing and if I’m not sleeping, spending time with my kids, or doing chores, I’m working.

My boss is a slave driver!

Work for me can be anything from researching a subject for a new book, writing and editing a novel, to spending time online connecting with friends in the writing community.

Since the writing life is such a mystery to non-writers, I thought I’d shine a light on what my little corner of the universe is like.

The top 10 great things about being a writer in the digital world:

10. Writing connects me with thousands of great people all over the globe.

9. My commute consists of pulling back the covers and stretching to power on my laptop.

8. The digital store is open 365 days a year (366 this year) and I can see exactly what I’m earning minute to minute.

7. Tweeting and Facebooking are important job skills.

6. Blogging about my addiction to chocolate or my attempts to diet earn me readers.

5. My office fits in a carry-on with room to spare. I can work on a beach or plane.

4. When I’m looking out the window and dreaming, I’m doing my best work.

3. My imaginary coworkers can’t sue for sexual harassment and they don’t complain about working conditions or low pay.

2. People write to tell me my writing has changed their lives.

1. The digital explosion has allowed me to reach tens of thousands and earn a living doing what I love.

Ten worst things about being a writer in the digital world:

10. Mediating squabbles on the digital playground.

9. There is no excuse for being late to work.

8. I can check my earnings minute to minute, but sometimes it’s better not knowing.

7. My family and friends think I should have a real job.

6. Everyone thinks I’m available to help them 24/7. See # 7.

5. Marketing. I love writing. I’m not fond of selling. (But I do like giving stuff away.)

4. Thousands of people think I can write a bestselling book about their great idea, give them half the royalties, and we’ll both be rich. It’s funny until they ask the third time.

3. If something good happens in the book business it’s always luck.

2. If something bad happens, it’s my fault.

1. My imaginary coworkers don’t do what they’re told even though I created them.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my writing life. 


  1. I like this one

    6. Blogging about my addiction to chocolate or my attempts to diet earn me readers.

    Interesting pros & cons

  2. Thanks for a laugh this morning, CJ.

  3. So true! The best for me are: hearing from readers who love my work and earning a living. The worst is #6/7. Sometimes, I think about going back to work in an office just so people/family will leave me alone for a few hours a day. :) Nice post!

  4. LJ, It is so amazing making a living doing what you love! I wouldn't trade a thing.

  5. Great post, CJ! I aspire to earn a living doing what I love. (I'm doing what I love, I just have to work on that other part.)

  6. Entertaining post, CJ! And a lot of those points apply to my life as a 100% online and on-screen editor working out of my home. I like how I can set my own daily schedule, working around appointments, naps, lunch dates, etc. And I love working in my comfy sweats. And who cares about bad hair days? Saves on gas, too! And since I get paid through PayPal, I don't even have to go out to the bank to deposit checks! And I get to interact with talented, creative people to make a good story even better. All in all, I love it.

  7. I get this from a lot of people: "All you do is write. Don't you ever relax?" They don't understand that for the most part, writing doesn't feel like work because I love doing it. I HAVE to do it. I would do it even if I weren't selling books. In fact, I did for many, many years.

    Being able to make a good living doing what I love is a dream come true. I consider myself extremely lucky and infinitely grateful to my readers who allow me to do it.

  8. I had to get a "real job" late last year and it's working on a computer. The last thing I want to do when I get home is stare at a screen. My characters are still talking to me, though and I've filled a couple more blank notebooks. Problem is getting those ideas into my new laptop. Will have to get into a routine, right? Folks still don't understand about ebooks though, you're right. Thanks!

  9. I enjoyed that, CJ. How true it is. Those who are not creative usually do not understand us.

    I often get those comments,too--"Is that all you do, write?"
    Turth is, it is what I enjoy doing. And at this time in my life, it is exactly what I want to spend my time doing.

  10. Reading through your post, I said, "Yes, yes, yes..." and finished with a big smile. Thanks CJ, for these little bites of the truth sprinkled with twinkles from your eyes. I like your viewpoint.

  11. Julee,

    I understand where you are coming from. I used to write until 2:30 am when I had a 9-5 job. I hope you love capturing words. Enjoy every moment.

    Linda, "Is that all you do." Heard it a thousand times!!!

  12. Thanks Julie,

    I'm always glad to deliver a smile and I like your characterization of me. Maybe you'll let me step into one of your books ;)


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