Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

"Work" writing and "really" writing

The Receptionist

Like many writers, I tend to think of job-related writing–like copywriting, or editing, or ghostwriting memos–as Not Really Writing. In the Huffington Post, though, Holly Robinson expresses a very different point of view:

“Doesn’t it bug you to write other people’s books when you could be working on your own?” another writer asked me recently.

Not a bit. In fact, I love telling other people’s stories. What other job would allow me to walk in another person’s shoes so completely that I’d feel their blisters? Working as a book doctor or ghost writer, I have the opportunity to immerse myself in worlds as disparate as the priesthood, cooking, fashion design, and Tejano music — I just finished ghost writing an incredibly moving memoir for Chris Perez, the husband of the fantastically talented Mexican-American singer, Selena. Ghost writing isn’t just a paying job for me. It’s a passion. Sharing stories is what makes us human.

And you know, Robinson’s right: there is a certain joy in untangling awkward sentences, polishing language, and making muddied ideas clear. But in my own experience, that type of writing doesn’t fulfill me in the same way creative writing does, but it uses the same word-processing part of my brain–thus leaving it too tired at the end of the day for working on stories.

What about you? Do you consider your day-job writing to be Real Writing? How does it affect your drive to tell your own stories in your fiction?

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