View Full Version : To all you editor/writers
08-29-2002, 03:42 PM
English was always my best subject. My degree is in English Literature and I graduated years ago with being an Editor in mind. Somehow, I got sidetracked into "Corporate America" working in, of all places, Finance; I'm in the top 12% of people who pay the taxes in the USA, in other words, I'm not doing okay for my age (I'm not 30 yet) and starting over would hurt. My question: is editing/writing everything you freelance/professional writers always thought it would be? Is it a more create medium? Or do you often find yourselves drawn into politics, powerplays; that ultimately, you're nothing more than someone's little bitch? Maybe I'm just in a "gee, the grass sure looks greener over there" phase. I appreciate any input.
08-29-2002, 04:14 PM
Ironically, your post would benefit greatly from some serious editing. Granted it's hard to gauge your level of experience from a single paragraph, but it appears that you could use more writing practice before you start looking into editorial positions.
Back on topic, my experience so far has been a fairly good one, although I'm spoiled in that I don't rely upon writing as my primary source of income. This removes many of the pressures associated with trying to line up work or negotiate payments. I imagine that full-timers will have more valuable input for you. :)
08-29-2002, 04:40 PM
I was a games editor for roughly three years in San Francisco. It was the most fun I have ever had in my life. Three years of games, parties and friends. Alas, it didn't pay dick so I got into development. Freelance life, from what I've been told, is not so nice because you constantly have to hound editors for payment, and the work can dry up quickly for no apparent reason. Plus, you have no benefits if you're a freelancer.
I left to make more money; I wouldn't get back into it unless you feel stifled at your current job. That's just my two cents.
08-29-2002, 04:44 PM
Yeah, I'm convinced that email writing has utterly destroyed any ability I once possessed.
08-29-2002, 05:26 PM
I enjoy it quite a bit. My job as editor at CGM was easily the most enjoyable job that I've ever had (it helped that I worked with a great bunch of people, except for Jason). Writing full time is also fun, but a lot of work and very competitive. In the current environment of disappearing publications (particularly online), there are far more writers than there are assignments to go around. Just keep that in mind if you decide to go whole hog--you probably won't be able to make a living off game writing alone. Be sure to diversify (as most of the full-timers here do).
08-29-2002, 09:03 PM
Diversification -- I've found rather quickly trying to get back into it full time -- is the key. One thing to do is go buy the latest Writer's Market (2003 just came out, $30 list) and see how you can spread out your work via interests. Also check out your local newspapers, etc.
Ben is right though -- the writing is fun, the hounding and check-by-check living sucks. Partially why I gave it up when I joined Playnet.. nothing like a steady paycheck. Unless you've really "made" it as a freelance writer, to which you can afford your own insurance and goodies.
08-29-2002, 09:58 PM
If you decide to try for a full-time "Editor at a game magazine or website" gig, you should know a few things:
1. Publications are downsizing and closing recently, not hiring.
2. Occasionally somebody has to leave a publication for one reason or another and hire someone new. The number of times a job opens up that way, per year, can be counted on one finger.
3. The pay sucks. It's enough to live on, and you'll have insurance and whatnot, but don't count on saving up much for retirement or buying that dreamhouse or sports car. Not without a spouse that has a good job. Those of us that are single live paycheck to paycheck for the most part. It's regular, predictable, and enough to live on, but not "well."
4. The work, such as it is, is a blast. Which is why we do it. Many of us spend a lot more time in Word, Outlook, and on the phone than most people figure, and a lot less time "playing games in the office," but it's still all about the games business. It's like writing for a movie magazine or something...entertainment is all around you, and you're surrounded by people who share your hobby.
I'll let the freelancers tell you more about that line of work, it's been four years since I was a freelancer. But you get paid late and you compete with far too many other freelancers. It's a great "extra money" job but there are only a handful of people who can make their whole living at it.
08-30-2002, 06:42 AM
Freelancing is definitely best as an "extra money" gig right now. I hold a job in IT (database/systems administration) during the day and do freelancing on the side. It's been very slow lately for everyone, especially if you write about PC games. There's fewer releases in general to write about and there is an overabundance of writers to take the work. Consoles are better, but that's a very difficult area to break into. Most console mags have in-house staff and don't use a lot or any freelancers.
08-30-2002, 04:24 PM
Y'all misunderstand. I'm not just looking at the gaming industry. I'm looking at the publishing industry in general. Magazines, books, newspapers.
08-31-2002, 12:10 AM
Well I think my first para still stands pretty much :)
I can speak as a former newspaper writer and I can also speak a bit for the editing end of newspaper work (my wife's an editor at the daily paper I used to work for). Newspaper writing can be boiled down to one word: drudgery. It's fun for a while and there were occasions when a story of mine actually made a difference in the community, but overall, burnout rate is pretty high in the newspaper biz. And generally, the folks who make a career out of it give "curmudgeon" a whole new dimension -- and it's not a term restricted only to men.
If writing is a creative pursuit, then newspaper writing isn't for you. It's the antithesis to poetry. I dumped journalism for novel writing; the income tends to be even less predictible than freelancing journalism, but I find it much more enjoyable.
I can't speak for magazine work, but the folks here seem to love it. Maybe that's more up your alley.
09-09-2002, 08:18 AM
If writing is a creative pursuit, then newspaper writing isn't for you. It's the antithesis to poetry.
Often, but not always. It depends how the newspaper sees itself, and how much freedom you have in your particular position. I'm worked for three newspapers and enjoyed a lot of liberty at all three.
It depends moreso on the type of writing -- feature pieces will always give a bit more creative latitude. I'm surprised no one brought up an interpretation of the word "creative." :)
There is always some creativity in writing (form, content, style) -- but when reporting school board meetings, town council meetings, or covering something that just popped up on the police scanner, there is little room for monkeying with style. Most daily papers (that I know of) have a particular hard-news style they stick with (again, features are easier 'cause you can use any style that strikes your fancy, as long as it's readable and the info's in there).
But it does depend on the editorial staff. Smaller papers, such as weeklies, might tend not to be as strict. I've only worked on one weekly and that was quite a bit looser with the style requirements.
09-09-2002, 08:40 AM
have you ever been a beat reporter? If you were you weren't supposed to have liberties. My newspaper experience is minimal, but it was all of the "just report the facts in the lowest word count/column inches possible" kind. That is drudgery, but it's also really good writing practice.
09-09-2002, 09:30 AM
At different times, I was a cop, reporter, municipal affairs and general assignment reporter, but that wasn't where I enjoyed the liberties. As you say, much of that is very basic, factual reporting. But I had a huge amount of freedom as a critic at the first paper, a feature writer and critic at the second and a columnist at the third. Newspapers can be drudgery, but they don't have to be. (And I don't know how much it has to do with size; all of these were god sized papers and one was huge.) I'd do it again in a flash if I found the right job.
09-09-2002, 09:35 AM
Eeep. Typos. That oughta be cop, education, municipal affairs and general assignment reporter. Also special projects for a time.
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