Although nearly everyone knows what writers do, it’s amazing how few people really understand how business writers earn a living. When people find out that I write, most make certain assumptions about what I do and why I do it.

For example, many people start talking about novels and writing books, and assume I must be furiously at work on a novel. When I explained that the writing I do is more prosaic and less about prose, they don’t understand. To many of them, writing isn’t legitimate unless it’s fictional or destined for entertainment.

Others assume that the only type of writing that’s out there is editorial writing. They assume that a writer must be submitting articles to magazines all over the country in hopes of being published. There are some writers who do that, but there are many more like me who create materials on behalf of clients, to help them promote their messages to stakeholders.

Many others equate writers with the stereotype of the starving artist trapped in a lonely garret, clawing for every loose scrap of food. The reality is that what I do as a business. And it’s as much a business as anyone else who operates a business. Some people build cabinets for living, some drill and fill teeth, some paint houses, some manage other people’s money. I run a business that focuses on communicating on behalf of others. It’s a very simple concept.

Of course, I guess writers themselves are probably to blame for the reputation. When we see writers portrayed in movies, on TV, or in novels, we always see romanticized portrayals that bear very little relationship to the truth. I suspect that the people who develop those portrayals are exercising in more than a little dreaming and wishful thinking.

So I don’t have a novel fighting to get out, and I work in an opulent basement global headquarters instead of a rundown, leaky garret. But I enjoy what I’m doing, it pays the bills, and as I often tell people, it sure beats working for a living.