The other day, I posted about my recent adulting experiences (how typical is it of the Internet era that the age and mode of responsibility is now a verb that I fully embrace as part of the English language?). Funnily enough, after I wrote the first draft of that post (yeah, there were a couple of drafts to that strange, slightly stream-of-consciousness post), I realized that during all the times I listed stuff I was doing that counted as “adulting”, I didn’t list writing. For some reason, writing doesn’t count as adulting.
This struck me as kind of odd. Why doesn’t writing, an activity that is essential to just about every business and so many different professions, not count as adulting? Well, actually it is. Typing up forms and reports, sending emails, writing a speech. Those are all adult activities, and they’re so important that the basics are taught to us from a very young age.
But creative writing–writing fiction, creating poetry, and maybe even journalism–are not treated as adulting activities. And I think that’s because, unless you’re making quite the income from these activities, people don’t treat them as a job or as an activity up there with paying your bills or making your own meals. I’ve talked about how people don’t see writing as a job before (too bad that post didn’t change as many minds as I would like), and a lot of the points I made in that post still hold true. People still don’t see writing as on par for a job.
There are a number of reasons for this. One is that people think of authors and see someone sitting in front of a notebook/typewriter/computer and magically bang out a story with little to no effort. Now, the reality is very different, but perceptions are hard to break, and the belief persists that writers are hardly expending any effort in their work. And as adulting kind of involves expending energy and doing hard work, the definition is at odds with the perception.
Another reason that people might not see writing as adulting is because it’s filling a creative urge that most associate with our inner child. I know, this might be a bit of a stretch, but at least hear me out. At some point in your childhood, you likely sat at the table with a bunch of paper and paint or crayons and churned out picture after picture that your parents put on the fridge and treated it like a freaking Picasso. And after you learned to read and write and maybe understood some basic storytelling, you may have created short stories based on fairy tales or some giant robot anime (asking your parents on how to spell certain words) and then listened to them act like you’re the next F. Scott Fitzgerald after you told them those stories.
I think to some degree that urge to be an artist or storyteller when we were children stays with us as we grow older, and we creative types indulge in the urge, only we write/paint/create much better than we did as children (usually). So when writers are busy working on a story, people see it as partaking in a vestige of our childhood that’s somehow stayed with us through the years. And childhood is the exact opposite of adulthood, which means it’s has nothing to do with adulting.
Now considering all that, should writing be something we want considered as adulting? After all, adult things usually have some sort of prestige to them. Perhaps since so much goes into writing and publishing fiction, it should be an activity worthy of being called “adulting.”
My opinion: HELL NO! Why? Because of what constitutes as adulting already: paying your bills, handling moving into a new home, working a 9-5 job and enrolling your kid in that day camp so they aren’t cooped up with the Xbox all summer and you can go to that 9-5 job. These are activities that are either boring, or annoying as hell. You’d just rather not deal with them. So when writing isn’t considered an adulting activity, I treat that as a good thing. Because you know what? As difficult as writing can be, it should be fun! It should be something pursued for joy and for the sake of creation and connection, not because it’s a task that has to be taken care of at some point if we don’t want to upset our lives.
So let’s not call writing an activity worthy of being called adulting. Let’s just keep it as a fun, creative outlet that you can occasionally make some money off of, and leave it at that.
Do you think writing should be considered adulting? Why or why not?
What are some other activities that should or not be considered adulting, and why?