Well, I didn’t get much out of the article itself. I can’t really confirm or deny what it’s saying is true or not for most of the fields. The source they give for their statistics doesn’t really give me any clues about how they reached their data either. And in general I’m not sure this data, even if it’s true, would be something to rely on to make big life choices.
But one entry in the list certainly caught my eye:
4. Writers and Authors
Average hours typically worked a week: 35.95
Median earned income: $US40,000
What they do: Originate and prepare written material, such as scripts, stories, advertisements, and other material.
Now, I don’t know too many writers who earn that much off the top of my head. Then again, most of the writers I know are political radicals, independent artists or something else like either. So it seems unlikely that I’d really have the best anecdotal experience to generalize into averages.
But I can speak to my own experience of being a writer and running this site, if nothing else.
First, it should be obvious at this point for most frequent writers of this site, but when I talk about being “anti-work” I’m not talking about work as in physical activity. If I felt that way, I’d probably not be typing these letters right now.
Instead, by “work” I mean a physical or mental activity that is constrained in some way by external forces. It involves submitting your own preferred ends for the ends of something else. Often times this is money but it could just as easily be the social praise of others or gaining prominence in an organization.
I don’t claim that this is the only definition of work, that’d be incorrect. But it’s the sort of work that I’m discussing and find most relevant to our lives. At least in terms of the sort of work that is worth abolishing. Other definitions of work such as being employed, physical activity for some monetary remuneration or physical activity are all related to the concept of work I have in mind. But they aren’t the same thing.
Being a writer is a bit of work, sometimes. There are times where I’d rather be watching funny videos on Youtube, but instead I’ve got to write a 1000 word blog post for this website. Or I’ve got to write another op-ed for C4SS. Or I’m writing a comic book review for a site. Whatever the case may be, sometimes it can feel like I’m simply going through the motions of my to-do list and I’m not actually doing anything for the sake of itself.
Rather, I’m doing it to either get it over with, get to the next thing on my list or even just to get to that aforementioned funny Youtube video.
This may seem hypocritical in relation to my anti-work stance but my claim would be that this is all normal.
You’re not always going to want to do what you usually enjoy. There are times where I deal with depression or am just really busy and it’s hard to justify writing another blog post. Sometimes I’m simply not in the mood to write even though I know it needs to get done. Not just so I can keep justifying the payments I get but also so I can hone my skills, add more writings to the site, keep the site updated, etc.
These are all struggles that anyone goes through with their preferred field of choice. I don’t think it’s particularly uncommon to have those moments of self-doubt.
And that’s my main point, really.
A lot of these things that I’m mentioning in relation to writing are just that. They’re usually just moments and not something that I need to be worried about constantly. And that’s the difference between writing and being in retail. I had to deal with those feelings almost constantly.
With writing, I may get those feelings every now and then but when I start writing, things are often different. Even in writing this post I had some apprehension and discomfort beforehand. But once I started putting words to the computer screen I instantly become much happier and interested in what I was doing.
In other words, I began valuing my writing for its own sake and irrespective of the money or attention.
I hope this makes it clear that my ideal world isn’t a place where we never have discomfort about what we’re doing with our lives. I don’t want that sort of world because that sounds like to me a horribly static world in which no one ever changes what they’re doing. Sometimes people need a change of pace or a different activity in general to be happy and that’s okay.
Maybe I won’t be a writer for my whole life. Perhaps some other interest will take a hold of my like computer programming, web design or something else entirely. Maybe at some point I’ll reach my dream of being a professional comic book writer and I won’t write for Abolish Work as much.
I’m not sure what the future holds for me. But I know that what I’m doing right now is often enjoyable for its own sake more often then simply wanting a paycheck. The money is important and in fact crucial, but I can still enjoy this anyways.
Writing is a way for my express my most inner thoughts. Things that I may never have thought about suddenly come flooding out from my brain and down to my fingertips. From there it’s all a numbers game of seeing what people like, what they didn’t like, what makes me happy, what sorts of posts I’d like to see and what sorts of posts my patrons or anyone else would like to see, etc.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that level of income or amount of hours per week. But I know that right now I’m not nearly working those hours or getting that much money.
And the sign that I enjoy what I do is that neither of those facts bother me too much.
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