Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Unemployed or self-employed? How do you see yourself? Does it matter?

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On any given day, I suppose you could go to any city in America, throw a rock up in the air, and hit someone who says he/she is a writer.

Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I’ve never seen so many people who are self-labeled “writers” or who would say the “want to be” or “hope to be” or “plan to be” a writer. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but until/unless a person is writing he/she is NOT a writer. Being a writer is completely up to you, because only you can make the time and follow through on the decision to write. No one can write for you.

I mention all this as I sit here watching hours of doom and gloom each day about the unemployment rate, whether national or in a specific state, constantly rising. But rising unemployment can be either good or bad, depending on what you choose to make of it. Not to wear out such cliches as “glass half full/glass half empty,” but whether you are unemployed or “self-employed” often is up to you.

The last full-time, professional editorial job I had ended when I changed churches and was asked by the church magazine which employed me as a news editor to turn in my resignation. (That was long ago, it is a LONG story, and I’ve probably worn it out already on this website and others.) After several weeks of dealing with a lot of emotional and financial shock, my wife, Shirley, and I decided I was going to use contacts I had made at my job (“networking” — get it?) and make some changes.

I was no longer unemployed, I was self-employed, specifically as a freelance writer and editor.

In my case, that simple change in perception made a big difference. It gave me a path to take, some ideas to work on, and a sense of self-esteem far greater than someone struggling with “unemployment.” Was it the answer to our family’s very real financial needs? Not right away. But it has worked out. I have since “raised” a family and helped both of my children into adulthood and careers of their own. We’ve managed, through various runs of writing, editing, proofreading, and part-time jobs for Shirley and me, to make it work out.

We’ve never yet lost a home or had to declare bankruptcy, even in today’s tough financial times.

So, how do YOU see yourself? Are you unfortunate enough to be unemployed, perhaps as a result of our current economic crises? I would only tell you my experience, and would not presume to tell you what you ought to do for you and/or your family. But it might be a step in the right direction to turn your unemployment into self-employment. Or not?

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