Do you ever feel like nobody outside of your “writer friends” circle really understands you? As far as the struggles you go through working on that next revision, or simply dealing with the craziness of real life while trying to finish your first draft.
While those topics are a little more glandular than what I want to talk about today, I do want to touch on a few things that non-writers might not know about us masochists who call ourselves writers.
Writing is hard.
For us it’s the most difficult thing in the world. The self-doubt, the second-guessing, the missing time (and unfortunately don’t mean in the sense of alien abductions. I mean it in the way that you might look at the clock and realize that three hours have passed and you only wrote a hundred words.) The plotting, the planning, the platforming…It never ends. And it’s never easy.
Writing is easy.
Okay, so yeah. What I just said in the previous paragraph, yadda yadda yadda… Sometimes the actual writing IS super easy. You site down at that keyboard and the words practically write themselves. A thousand words in an hour? No problem. A complete first draft in 30 days? Hey, people do it all the time. The real work comes after it’s written. Revisions are difficult. Writing a query letter and synopsis is difficult. Finding an agent can be even more difficult than finding a publisher. Which reminds me…
Finding an literary agent is nothing like finding a real estate agent.
It’s like applying for a job. You go through the same process:
- Scout the appropriate agent.
- “Apply” by sending a query letter.
- “Interview” by sending a manuscript, if asked.
- Get an offer, and weight the option.
- The only difference is that getting a job is much easier than getting an agent.
But…writing is, in fact, a job.
Even if you’re at the stage where you’re not making any money writing, it is your part time job. And if you’re serious about writing, you damn well better treat it that way. Set aside “work” hours where you WORK. (FYI, “working” does not mean “playing games on your cell phone or arguing politics on Facebook.) Also, it’s perfectly acceptable to remind people that you are WORKING when they interrupt you because “you’re only writing.”
Success in writing has nothing to do with luck…
and everything to do with hard work and determination. There are no overnight successes in this business. Any “overnight success” you can name has been writing for ten years before they made it big. And I mean that for realz. The writers who “make it” are simply the ones who never quit.
But it doesn’t hurt to know the right people 🙂
Hey, even though it takes hard work and determination, it’s not necessarily a solo act. Having friends in the business to bounce around ideas, or trade critiques could work wonders toward improving your craft. And if you have a friend that is one of those successful writers, maybe they could always put in a good word with their agent and get you out of the slush pile. But speaking of success…
One writer’s success is NOT another writer’s failure.
Did you know that if your best friend gets a publishing deal or has a mega-successful self published book, that all the people will read his book and no one will ever read yours when it comes out? No? That’s because it’s not true. It doesn’t matter if the next Stephen King comes along and sell a quadrillion copies of his first book. That has no bearing on your book, or your audience. Beside, you shouldn’t be trying to be the next Stephen King; you should be trying to be the first you. But you should still go read that “next Stephen King” guy because…
Reading isn’t just a thing nerdy people like to do.
When you’re a writing, reading is better termed “training.” Or “research.” Take your pick. Either way, it’s a good idea to read everything you can. Read the successful authors and learn from them. What worked and why was it successful? Also, read some crappy authors. What makes their work crappy, and how can you avoid doing that? So read, read, read!
But don’t watch TV.
For the record, watching 16 straight hours of sitcoms is neither training, nor research, and if you see a writer doing that, smack them across the face (metaphorically speaking of course.) Okay, so some TV is okay if it is related to your writing career. Say you write zombie horror. It’s probably a good idea to watch at least a couple episodes of The Walking Dead, just to make sure your stuff isn’t a direct copy of it. But don’t let me catch you watching one second of The Big Bang Theory or How I Killed My Brain Cells reruns on TBS.
So that’s it.
There are plenty of things writers and non-writers alike know, but these were the nine indisputable truths about the writing business that we should all take note of. But, I know I’m not perfect, so if you disagree with any of these, or if you feel like I missed a few, go ahead and leave a comment and let me know!