When you think about writers what enters your mind? Maybe you see someone sitting at a typewriter, (yes I dated myself there), with wads of paper thrown around the room. Or maybe you think about best seller lists and lots of money. You may even think about how great it would be to just do something “easy”.
I can tell you that most of what you think probably isn’t true. There are so many misconceptions about writers that it’s not even funny. I won’t be able to hit on all of them in this post. It would take a series of books to do that.
Being a Writer is Hard
I’m not complaining. Anything in life worth doing is going to be hard to do. I LOVE what I do. I’m taking steps to make it an actual job, that’s how much I enjoy it. However, I don’t think that people understand all that goes into being a writer. Let’s go over some of them.
Grammar: You have to have at least a basic understanding of it. If you’re like me you question yourself often. I may write a sentence 17 different ways before I settle on what you read. That’s just one sentence. Without any understanding of grammar, you may want to reconsider your life choices.
You can have someone edit your work, but they have to be able to comprehend what they are editing. Grammar isn’t my strongest area, but I’m learning as I go and that’s key to success.
Criticism: You are going to experience it. Prepare for it. You cannot please everyone. Some people will be nasty and they enjoy it. If your worth as a writer is tied to what people think, then you may not want to do this. You have to write because you enjoy it and you know that there are going to be others who will enjoy it as well.
If someone doesn’t like what you write, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do. Seriously, go read some of the bad reviews of your favorite authors. They have them. I secretly do this when I get a bad review because it helps me to regain focus. I’m not alone.
Marketing: You have to be your own marketer. You have to sell yourself to people every day. You have to ask for the reviews. You have to set up keep your name in front of people. It’s a full-time job just trying to remain relevant. From guest posting on other blogs, hosting guest bloggers, tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking, and sharing, you’re the only one who can do it. Unless of course, you have the money to hire someone to do it all.
Being Misunderstood: This may seem like a crazy one, but it isn’t crazy at all. If you want to be a writer prepare to be misunderstood. People will have all kinds of crazy questions for you. I’ll go over some in the next section. It’s very frustrating to have people not understand what you do or to act like it’s nothing, and they WILL act like it’s nothing too. Tell someone you’re a writer and see what kind of reaction you get. It may be a funny look, a little laugh or the “what have you written?” question.
What Kind of Question is That?
That last point brings me to this next section. People will ask you things that they’d never think of asking any other person in a different job. Keep in mind someone, and many times more than one someone has asked me all of these.
You’re a writer? I bet you’re rich. How much money do you make off of your books? Many people assume that because you’re a writer you must be rich. Why do they think it? I have no clue. I can only guess that it’s some romanticized idea they have about writer’s and their lives. You wouldn’t go up to anyone else and ask them how much money they made last year, would you? I’d hope not.
Does that pay the bills? Again another assumption. It must be feast or famine for those of us who write. Some people think we’re rolling in the dough and some think we’re scraping by. I think this one comes from the whole starving artist thing. Again, I have to wonder if people would ask this to anyone else? I mean, I don’t go to Wal-Mart and ask the cashier if their job is paying the bills.
What else do you do? This kind of goes with the previous question. They automatically will add this one before you even answer the does it pay the bills question. People assume that writing isn’t worth while so you must have some other form of income. Why people think it’s socially okay to inquire about other’s financial lives is beyond me. Unless you’re the IRS.
Is that book about your life? You will be asked this. I was asked this about my first book. The story is about a crazy man. Let that sink in a minute. It starts with a man remembering something (whether real or not) about being molested. People asked if this was about my life. The man is verifiably crazy in the book. So, do people think I’m crazy? Luckily I don’t care if they think I am. Just be warned that anything you write people are going to assume it is about you.
Will you put me in your book? Another great one. What other professions would you ask something like this of? Hey doc, would you let me make the next incision? See?
I’ve got an idea for you, wanna hear it? Not really. If you have any idea then it’s for you. If God wanted me to have it, he would have given it to me. That wouldn’t be polite to say though, would it? Yet we endure so many unpleasant questions and assumptions.
I should write a book. Now I know this one is a statement but you’ll hear it all the time. Maybe they should write a book. I’m not one to say if they should or shouldn’t but to me, it belittles the author and makes their work seem as if it’s nothing. I don’t go up to a dentist and say, I should pull someone’s teeth!
A Prophet is Without Honor
I’m in a group of writers on Facebook and the question was asked about who supports us most. Is it our family and friends or people we don’t know from the internet. An overwhelming majority of the group posted this heading as part of their answer. They likened it to Jesus not being able to do much in his hometown.
Everyone in Jesus’ hometown thought of him as a carpenter. He’s just Mary and Joseph’s boy. This may be something you run into with your family and friends. They may find it hard to believe that you’re a writer. They may not think that you need help when in actuality you do.
I think it boils down to people not understanding that writing is a business. You as a writer have to do everything yourself. If you don’t stay on top of it for one week, your numbers will slip. They don’t think anything about NOT leaving a review if they enjoyed your book. You have to teach them. You have to let them know that good reviews for a writer are like gold! That goes with anything you need help with. Lay out why you need help and how they can help. It’s in your hands to educate them.
So you can see by the things I’ve listed that writing is hard work and these are just a few things. My next post is going to be my writing manifesto. I think it’s going to give you a huge window into my mind as a writer. That should go well? Right?
If you’re a writer list some things below that you find hard about writing.