By Bhavna Sultana:
Should I really take up writing as a full-time career? The question lingers in my mind every now and then, making me nervous. In doing the research on taking up writing as a career option, I have come across so many articles that tell me how difficult it is to make ends meet, even if you are a successful writer. An article that recently got published in The Telegraph titled, “These days writing isn’t a career, it is a rich man’s hobby”, throws light on how the writing business has become more lopsided towards those who can afford to take it up.
As long as one writes purely for their own leisure or merely as a hobby, it doesn’t make much of a difference. But to make a career out of it is an entirely different scenario. There are many struggling writers who can give you an advice on how to do it, but they definitely warn you about the drawbacks. I have myself been given the suggestion that I must always keep an alternative if I try to make a career out of writing, considering that it is easier to fail than to succeed in this area.
Also, the writing career is so diversified. No one will pay you for writing what you want to write. When we talk about content writing, it could mean writing about a bakery item or it could mean writing some technical stuff using those heavy tech-related jargons or a travel account if you are lucky enough to become a travel blogger. To decide which will suit you best is a difficult choice to make. It is mostly about experimenting and taking a risk. But one must start somewhere.
If I talk about the current situation in India, one can definitely observe the rise in the number of writers. But then, how many times do you come across an Indian author whose name strikes familiar? Happens rarely, right? Apart from the few very popular names likes Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, Chetan Bhagat, we don’t know many names. This in itself talks about the basic problems our country faces. Here, taking up an out of the league career is still a taboo. Though a lot has changed over the last decade, with people making career choices purely based on their area of interest, but they really do not get any support, be it financially or emotionally. While it is a bit risky to take the plunge, I think, at the same time, it is necessary. None of us would want to regret making our decisions based on what society thinks about us. But at the same time, be wise. Don’t take a leap of faith. It is necessary to understand and first find out if you really write that well at all.
Being a struggling writer myself, I know how difficult it is to persuade my family or the society to buy into my way of thinking. Even I am so unsure and doubtful about it. Having a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, I am obviously supposed to be working in some software firm. If I do anything different, people will obviously question it and say, “But why would you want to leave a good job and a decent salary and choose such a risky career option?”
Well, it is mostly about the passion, I guess. Not anyone can be a good writer. While anyone can write, not all of us can actually make it appear good and not boring or illogical. It definitely isn’t easy to write something that appeals a large variety of audience. A writer can be anything: a poet writing rhyming or non-rhyming verses; a critic with some sensible take on the society; a comedian trying to make the readers laugh; a dreamer who lets you into his/her world of imagination or simply a man who wants to change the society by what he/she writes.
Writing earns both admirers and haters. I have been published on a social platform twice and though my articles have been appreciated, I am sure not everyone will agree with my point of view. And that’s okay. The purpose of writing is not to please the audience, but to share a story, to genuinely try and change perspectives or to simply to make someone smile. As long as the purpose is noble, a writer must not stop.
I have been told that society looks down upon writers. I think the main reason is that we associate the reputation of a person with the job he does. Just because one guy works in some big tech company, earning millions and another is a writer, who is just making enough to make ends meet, is no reason to compare. Maybe the one who writes is more satisfied with his life than the one with a big package. Well, who knows?
I think it is very important to motivate an artist. It is not always necessary to care about the end result. If that remains our focus, we might end up having a lot of regrets. Though taking up such a career option is challenging and risky, it is worth taking. And how can I forget to quote Robert Frost’s lines from the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”