The world runs on writing. Ever since that first caveman figured out how to record the day’s deeds by scratching marks on the wall of his home with a weird piece of rock he had found that was not quite stone, mankind’s rise to civilization was assured. Technically, it was probably a combination of art and writing but, sure enough, it was the act of recording information on a permanent basis, which first and foremost writing does.
Writing’s second purpose is to entertain, but often recording information and entertaining walk hand-in-hand. So what, exactly is writing, or the process thereof? Committing one’s thoughts in a permanent form is likely the simplest explanation, but the process is far more complex than that. Writing encompasses such extreme importance as the U.S. Constitution and the whimsical, such as Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat. Writing involves people expressing themselves, conveying information, recording important events, advertising products and services, and many more purposes. It permeates everyday life.
Writing is important to mankind as a civilization, equally as much as art is. Writers come in many forms and from all walks of life. They write for a variety of reasons, from a form of catharsis to a painful existence to seeking to entertain themselves and others with wildly imaginative stories. History is filled with good writers and their works. From Shakespeare to Tolstoy, Doyle, and Asimov, the list is endless.
Though writing has gone through permutations from inscribing letters in ink on paper, through the venerable typewriter, and later on the personal computer, the essential process remains the same. Everyone has a story to tell, whether fictional or not. Writers are people who tell them in some written form.
Entire industries thrive on writing, and if you think that is not running the world, take a closer look. The obvious one is, of course, the movie industry. Yet nearly all of the film industry’s scripts and source material come directly from the publishing industry, which includes a wide range of endeavors from textbooks, comics and novels to news to digital media, and shows just how much writing permeates our lives.
So how profitable is writing itself? Is it possible to make a comfortable living as a writer? Well, at the high-end of fiction novel-writing sits J.K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter series became a pop culture icon, spawning eight movies, video games and general/toy merchandising. Her profits measures in the billions. Other writers, new and veterans alike, have had varying high degrees of success to the point of becoming household names. Tom Clancy. Stephen King. Danielle Steel. authors such as these have had movies and television series made from their works and, in the case of Tom Clancy, a long and rich history of video games in addition to numerous movies and at least one television series. Even mid-list writers such as Holly Lisle see four and five digit monthly incomes.
Other types of writers make comfortable livings, such as ghost writers, autobiographers, text-book authors and the like. News media thrive or perish under the skill of their writers, even more so with the advent of digital publishing. On the heels of that, independent publishers and authors are seeing a boom as those avenues of getting their work out to the public has increased. This significantly cuts down production time that a traditional publishing house takes to get a novel from manuscript to finished product.
With the increase of reading devices such as Kindle and Nook, the trend now is to download books and other reading material, allowing for entire libraries to fit inside a backpack or in a purse. However, independent and digital publishing as not as easy a route to go as one might think. A lot of hard work is involved to create quality product that will bring readers back for more. Digital authors such as Amanda Hocking are seeing phenomenal levels of success. Sites such as Amazon, B&N and iStore experience very high levels of traffic.
Writing does indeed run the world. If you have a good story to tell or want to help others tell their story, learn the craft and mechanics of writing and pursue your goal of making a living as a writer. It is possible and you can do it. There is an outlet for all kinds of writing, including slogan writing like Jack-In-The-Box’s catch phrase “Late Night Foody Call.”
Opinion by Lee Birdine