I have reached a point in my career where I consider all of my writing as work. Whether it is client work where an invoice is sent and I collect pay in return, or “recreational” writing such as material for sites like this, and the printed pages that are strewn about my home.
The recreational and paid writing are both acts of refinement. Something I may have learned the previous day through my own output or in reading something about writing may have prevented me from writing out something that may look poorly conceived. There is a time for more self-expression in pieces that may end up here or in future published works.
I used to write an insane amount of material in high school on a nightly basis. This was mostly poetic flourishes dusted with a few gems in some occasional rough patches. To be back on this aggressive pursuit of creation has been personally and professionally uplifting.
There are many books in my house that are filled with great ideas and even a few paragraphs that could turn into something more. Last week I started to journal in detail my cross-country train journey from Jasper, Alberta to Truro, Nova Scotia. The material is completely free-written. I have left no boundaries in place just to get this story out on paper. Thanks to a few notes of my mentioning this story on Twitter, VIA Rail sent me a note, thus prompting me to advise them that I will submit a polished version to their onboard magazine for consideration (I definitely will make good on this intention).
I hold the view that recreational writing has improved my chances at performing superior work for paying clients. When I was completing a book reviewing gig for a publisher a couple of years ago, it brought me back to my days as Co-Editor of State of the Rock World. With SOTRW, I was tasked with reviewing a few discs of hard rock that would border on the Metal Edge. My music reviews tended to become very wordy and just too long with repeating content. When I did these book reviews, my goal was to hammer home as much information as possible on how I viewed these books but in a streamlined piece. It was some of the most enjoyable work to be a part of in a long time.
Whether writing content, scratching an idea in a pocketbook, or reviewing freelance opportunities and deciding on which ones to pursue, it is all work. With all of the education and experience on my resume I take justifiable pride in being able to call myself a writer first.