WoWs and WoEs of a content writer!!


Scene 1: (Two years back)

“What do you do?”
Me: “I write for websites.”
“What do you write?”
Me: “Whatever the client provides as requirements….I take the cue and write.”
“ohh….So do you get paid for it?
Me: “yes, I do.”
“How much do they pay you?”

I almost cringed. If that gentleman had next asked my age, I would have pulled off the clingy facade of sweetness and exposed the acerbic person underneath. But, the gentleman survived. Why? I did not answer. And, he did not ask again. Anything more.
Not long after this conversation happened, another interesting conversation happened a couple of months later.

Scene 2:
“So, you write for websites…i.e generate content for websites….”
Me: “Yes Ma’am”
“But, there is no creativity in just taking content from Internet and rephrasing in your own words. That is the reason, I do not relate with this career. No originality..”
Me: “…………………………………………”

I did not know how to respond. So, I again kept quiet. I don’t believe in breaking mind bubbles of people. As long as their thoughts do not bubble out and intrude into my head space, I am fine with them screaming their lungs out from roof tops that Galileo was wrong about Earth being round and, the rabbit they caught had three legs. Only! (The Tamil proverb literally translated from – Naan pidicha Moyalukku moone Kaalu)

Scene 3: (Happened recently)
“So, you are a content writer eh…”
“Yes.. ”
“Basically, you just play around with words right?”
I took a deep breath.
“Yes, that is exactly what I do. Only that playing takes away half of my day”

Predictably, the person did not understand the later part of my statement.
I sighed.

**************************************************************************

“What do you want to become in life?”
This question was my Achilles’ heel in my growing years. I have never given weird answers. But, I had many in the head. The three that topped my list were –

“I want to become a pagan.”
“I want to become a newsreader.”
“I wanted to become a Beatrix Kiddo!”

….I wonder what the reactions would have been. Thankfully, I spared my parents the horror of the first and the third. But the ‘newsreader’ thing of the three was the first to enamour me. I began watching DD news at the age of seven….(I am sure my parents thought it is the DD music that I took a liking for….)

The way Salma Sultan perched a pink rose on the side of her bun that matched with her pink saari is a sight that is still fresh in my memory. It is like I can almost smell that memory. Neeti Ravindran’s mole, Shobana Jagdish’s sweet voice, Kaveri Mukherjee’s crisp cotton saris and Gitanjali Iyer’s hair style had some tantalizing effect on me. I never quite understood what they spoke, given my age. But, I connected with the way they spoke. Clarity is the word. Even today, I feel there is no news reader that could present news like this breed. And, I had wanted to become one then.

Seasons passed. These memories were pushed underneath the pressures of academic world. And soon, I was 18 years of age with the same annoying question staring at my face– “What do you want to become in life?”

***************************************************************************

It is almost a decade since I quit the IT industry and, chose content writing as a career.  No, there was no preconceived notions about it. I tried it because I wanted change. And, I dreaded if this professional change wore me out soon… But, it did not. It stayed. Maybe, I finally entered a zone where I did not have to feel competition that worked on “There is only way to the top.” philosophy

But, the beginning was not easy. With no lit background, my pace did not match with the ones that had. However, I was ready to learn. Blogging happened along the way too. Slowly and steadily, I got into the arena where, I was a small fish trying to find my path in the ocean.

Post marriage and, having a kid, I freelanced. It is here, I experienced encounters of all kinds. There were a few that did not pay me as they had promised. It hurt. But, I did not fight back. For some reason, I was indebted to even those, as my writing skills went up a notch having written quite a lot of articles for them. There were a few that wanted me to change my writing style, which I couldn’t. After a few stumbles here and there in the virtual world, I finally chanced on an email from a well known author who was interested in giving me writing assignments. And that, she mentioned I had a nice blog, made me feel good about myself.

And, I began my work with SSK, an army wife like me who was not only nice but quite professional. It is under her, I got all the exposure I needed. If I asked for experience, she handed me the horizon. The pay was not great. But, I thoroughly enjoyed writing articles for the clients that came through her. I think, I covered almost every topic under the Sun – be it business, art, academics, travel, medical et al..I also got to write gist for TedX videos, in the process getting to hear some of the amazing people reveal their simple side to us. It was a liberating experience for me. But, I also struggled with deadlines. The lady was kind though, and gave me a day more than she gave other writers. A few months later, I found myself in a better position. And, I moved ahead, took a break and, joined another firm, looking for different topics to work on. This firm was run by a nice couple who gave me a list of subjects that I had not explored yet. Product reviews, brands, Gaming technologies and, everything related to e-Commerce came my way. Although a part of me felt quite drab writing about them, but I continued. After all, work is work. The struggles continued. And, I was always the last one to submit work, nevertheless on time. I took a break after a few months of intense writing. And now, I have resumed work again.

However, this time the pressures are not breathing down on my neck. I am a bit more relaxed than what I was years before, as a struggling content writer. And yet, I have a long long way to go. Every assignment that I undertake makes me work hard. And, once I submit it, I always look at it and, question myself – “Could it have been better, any better?” It may appear strange but, I get this feeling after writing even a blog post.  For some reason, I do not let that question die. Somehow, it makes me yearn to make it better.

***************************************************************************
It so happened that post marriage, a relative had casually passed a remark – “Narayani…I don’t think content writing is something unique. You shouldn’t have left that job at MNC. And, you not only left it but, now have taken up a job that is paying you peanuts! And, writing is something that anyone can do! No big deal. Why? Even I can write articles. I have a pHD background.”

That was the day I had submitted my first article of 600 words, a week after I joined the firm that provided content writing services.

Would anyone believe that it took me a week to write those 600 words with around 15 keywords that should not be repeated in a way that the reader loses interest and, in the process I had to make sure that the article was not only grammatically correct but also plagiarism free? It was a very simple topic and yet, I struggled for a week while, my subordinates wrote around 4 to 7 articles per day in the time window between 10 AM to 6 PM (with an hour of lunch break)

Did his statement demoralize me? No. I understood, he just couldn’t see the challenge and beauty in the field of writing, the way I saw it.

And for people who think, assume and believe that content writing is mere word play and nothing more…..I have nothing to prove. You have the right to express your views. And, I have the right to reserve my silence.

Because, there are days when as a content writer, I take about five hours to write a 500 word article on the dynamics of marketing in business with strategies deployed, covering as many related subjects and, as a blogger in my personal space, I end up writing more than 1000 words in less than thirty minutes! Just like I did now.

Now, that is the difference, my friend. That is the difference.

snoopy-writing

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13 thoughts on “WoWs and WoEs of a content writer!!

  1. I can so relate to every single alphabet (forget the word ) you wrote… It resonates totally with me too man… Its difficult to make people understand how challenging (yet awesome) it is to shift from writing technical articles to moving on to travel blogs or a product review!! That too in the samr breath…. phew!!! We rock our space man and reserve our silence on things that do not affect us anymore.
    Kudos to you girl for sharing such a beautiful life experience…

  2. Don’t even get me started lady, I have a deluge pent up.

    I’ve heard it all. From “She doesn’t work” to “She writes well, give her any school essay you want written”. And my husband isn’t spared either “You are a lucky man! She writes a few words and makes a lot of money”, “She’s a writer? Ask her to write our party script”, and even “Your wife should get a real job, she’s ambitious”.

    You’ve nailed it, Narayani. The highs and the lows of writing, the pains and the exhilaration of the work we do. More power to your pen. Or Laptop, More power to your words, lady!

    • “The party script” thing is familiar…..very familiar…..

      and “that write a few words to make money”….yes….i have got them too…..

      And sujata, I have realized that when we explain to people, they are not going to listen. FOr instance, I explained my work to a relative and, he ended up again asking me the same question -“adhu ellam ok…but what do you do?” I realized I was speaking to a wall 🙂

      Somewhere, this post forced itself out of me…..it kind of calmed me down 🙂

      And more power to you too, SUjata…..Let the voices be heard 🙂

      P.S: have discovered your writing space (courtesy: your comment)

  3. Next time somebody says ‘ your fee is too much, I can write it myself for less than half ‘ I am going to give that guy a thumbs up and move on. You are right…There’s no point in trying to explain. Let them experience it first hand . 🙂 It’s not easy and we are good.

    • Yes chaitra, that is the best thing to do….”Do it yourself :)”

      And you know what bothers me…..It is not about the money part too….I have written essays and articles in goodwill and, a lot. But the contempt that tags along, brings up the bile!

      The very reason I wrote this blog is, I am tired of answering people who not only throw weird questions but, extremely condescending attitude. Each human has limits of endurance. I guess, writing this post calmed me 🙂

      And more power to you chaitra 🙂 Let not the brickbats bring down our enthu 🙂

  4. Amazing post Narayani! It’s even harder for a man to be a full-time freelancer! People have said incredibly insensitive things to me and you can’t even retaliate because more often than not they don’t realize that they’re being rude and insensitive. Your post made me feel better about myself and what I’m doing.

    • FOr a man, yes! we live in a world that believes in dividing professions as per gender…

      And about the contempt….Tell me about it, Pankaj….currently a full time freelancer and, I get a lot of questions that I dont know how to answer. Because, when you explain something, it is important that it be understood too….And, people do not listen to understand…they listen to reply….

      And to be able to do what the inner voice guides you to do is a gift. Consider yourself blessed, Pankaj 🙂 And, for people, “Kuch to log kahenge…” the noise will never cease….

      More power to you….Cheers!!

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