Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I pity the fool

I was dumbfounded when I saw this subject line in an email today:
Tired of Your Day Job? A Lucrative Writing Career Awaits You!
Oh really! What could it possibly be? Given that it was sent by a vendor of online writing workshops, I had the feeling it wasn't an ad for courses on how to be a technical writer, which is the only lucrative writing career I'm aware of being open to average shmoes.

I was right -- it's not. The opening of the email went like this:
You could be writing for a living!

Writers from around the world have learned how to turn their passion into paying work through Breaking into Copywriting, one of the most popular courses at (their outfit).

If you're not familiar with copywriting, then it's time for you to look into this skyrocketing industry that's the perfect gig for writers just like you. Whether you're an aspiring screenwriter, novelist or playwright, or even just an avid reader, you can turn your love for words into a lucrative career as a freelance copywriter.
Copywriting a "skyrocketing industry"? Really? Somehow I doubt it. There was a short period a few years ago when you could make a little money churning (and I mean churning) out content for SEO websites and things like, but that's a thing of the past, I think.

I'd like to link to a blog post from a few months ago that someone wrote -- someone who really was an aspiring fiction writer -- about attempting to get into this game last year, only to find it frustrating and mind-numbing. I can't find it, but I'll revise this later if I do.

People, if you want to make a lot of money writing, become a tech writer. It's not for everyone, but it's for a heck of a lot more people than screenwriting is. A tech writer with five years experience makes 75-100K a year. An "aspiring screenwriter" who's been trying for five years may still have zero chance to ever make money on it.

On the other hand, if it's your dream to write novels and screenplays, do it. Just don't make it your retirement plan.

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