What Exactly Does a Writer Do?

Monday, October 12, 2015

This is the second installment in a career series that focuses on the question, "What exactly do you do?" Instead of tossing around vague industry titles, we're diving in to the day-to-day tasks of a few talented ladies in several different industries. Today, I'm excited to feature my friend Abi from the blog Patina & Purl

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Hello, everyone! This is Abigail from the blog and Etsy shop, Patina & Purl. I'm so excited to be writing this guest post for Whitney. She and I have been friends for several years. When she approached me with her idea about sharing the stories of women and their workplaces, I leapt at the idea.

Those who follow my blog or Instagram may be vaguely familiar with my job, while new readers may be wondering what on earth I do everyday - because sometimes it seems like I am all over the place. And honestly, sometimes I feel that way too! I've worn a lot of different hats (from office assistant to teacher to financial aid advisor) but my current occupation has made me the happiest. Why? Because I get to be creative, all day, every day.

So what is exactly it that I do? Well, I currently have two jobs, one from home and one in downtown Frederick, the adorable Maryland city that my husband, our pitbull pump, and I call home.

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My first job: Writer

As long as I can remember, I have wanted to write a book. When I was little, before I could even write, I would grab stacks of paper, scribble all over them, and then fold them to create my own "book." It's just always been a part of who I am, this unquenchable drive that always niggles at the back of my mind.

So how did I get here? At the beginning of the year, I had an awesome, salaried job as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at a liberal arts college nearby. I had an official title, a steady paycheck, and worked in an office of lovely, smart ladies. But the work itself made me miserable — my life revolved around math and numbers. Math and numbers upon which a lot of importance rested...as in, if I screwed up, Johnny may not be able to go to school. If it weren't for the wonderful students with whom I worked everyday, I would have melted into a puddle of desolate goo. Finally acknowledging how despondent I had become, my husband and I made the decision to tighten our budget so that I could pursue the thing that has always been my dream: writing a novel. We knew that my working part-time would change our financial situation, but we set our budget and made the necessary sacrifices to make it happen.

So now, I spend half of my workweek at home, writing. I write anywhere from 4-7 hours a day. I drafted a general outline of the story — its basic chronology, layout, and pivotal scenes — and work from that outline everyday, marking off completed sections as I go. My current goal? To have a workable first draft by the end of the year. I currently have about 300 pages written, most of which will reduce drastically once I begin the editing process. But hey it's a start!


My second job: Store Manager + Painter

In order to help put food on the table, I also work part-time for a vintage furniture company as their store manager and furniture painter. You may be wondering what is a "vintage furniture company"? We specialize in restoring and repurposing vintage items and furniture. We take beat-up old castaways that have fallen out of style and imbue them with new life through the varied powers of wood putty, sandpaper, wax, chalkpaint, and lots and lots of elbow grease. Repurposed and Refined, the company for which I work, has two major locations: a large warehouse and a boutique store. I run the latter during the week.

So what do I do there? Working for a small business requires being a Jack (or Jane) of all Trades, but my job primarily consists of five components:

Maintaining inventory and sales logsAn important, behind-the-scenes component of running a store is keeping lovely, long spreadsheets of what sales, how much sales, and when it sales. It's my job to compile all that data so that we can keep track.

Assisting customers and maintaining the store's upkeepOf course another huge component of running a store is customer interaction. People come in everyday with questions about home decor, chalk-painting, and refinishing antiques. I assist with all those questions and try to ensure that the interaction with the customer becomes profitable (aka, we make a sale or somehow establish a continuing relationship with that person). I also do all the regular humdrum stuff: ringing up purchases, answering the phone, stocking shelves, and general upkeep.

Managing the store's social media accounts and Craigslist ads
One of our major shop events is our monthly warehouse sale. We stock a 10,000 sq. ft warehouse with enough vintage furniture to make your head spin. It's my job to help stage and photograph all those items and promote them on social media — Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I also post literally hundreds of ads to the Maryland Craigslist pages in order to promote sales.

Ghostwriting for the company's blog
This is one of my favorite components of what I do. Once a week, I plan and write posts for the company's blog. The posts center on everything from chalkpainting tips, furniture DIYs, custom paint jobs, and kitchen makeovers — all of the main services we offer.

Painting furniture
This is absolute favorite part of the job: painting furniture. I don't get to do it everyday, but if we have a random slow day, I am able to whip out my brushes and work on a piece. This involves priming, painting, sanding, distressing, waxing, and buffing. It usually takes me one or two work days to finish a piece, but it's the best feeling to see customers walk in the door and exclaim over something you created.


Working creatively has made me happier than any other profession I've ever pursued. My degree is in English; so self-motivation, communication, research, and organizational skills are vital tools from my degree that I use everyday. Sometimes I get frustrated — remembering that steady paycheck and all its accompanying whistles and bells — but most days I love what I do. Ultimately, I hope to be self-employed in the future, whether through writing or through opening a business with my husband. For now, though, I've got my nose to the grindstone — or rather, the keyboard — churning out as many pages as possible everyday. Wish me luck!

Connect with Abi:

You can read the other posts in this series here:
Operations SupervisorMarketing Manager | Project Manager | Jewelry Stylist | Online Shop Owner

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