So you think you’re pretty decent with words and you enjoy telling stories, and you want to be a writer.
You should think you might want to be a writer. Here’s what you need to know about being one.
(Note: This post is mostly cynical humor as I speak out about the harsh reality of being a writer. Because in reality it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; it’s more like no sun and rainclouds––which can still be pretty cool.)
1. Ten to one you will feel creative and inspired and productive only 2% of the time you spend writing. This is what makes writing so much fun; most of the time it’s the last thing you want to do, but guess what? You’re a writer. So you gotta write anyway.
2. When, not if, you get writer’s block, the problem isn’t writer’s block. The problem is you and what you’re writing. People like to come up with excuses for why they’re not writing, and they like to blame their lack of writing on writer’s block. Don’t listen to them. And if you start blaming writer’s block, don’t listen to yourself. Writer’s block is a myth.
If you really want to blame writer’s block, hit yourself on the head with this until it hurts so much you want to blame it (which is ironic because you’re hitting yourself, so go blame yourself for 1) hitting yourself and, ultimately, 2) not writing).
3. You will never write a perfect story. If such a thing were possible, I seriously doubt writers would exist. Accept that you will never write anything perfect and that 95% of what you write will be garbage. Okay, good looking garbage that needs editing and another three hundred drafts before reaching a level of okayness.
4. 90% of your time spent “writing” will actually be sitting staring at a computer screen or a notebook and doing nothing. But, looking on the bright side, at least you’re thinking. Or I hope you are. I’m really good at looking on the bright side, if you haven’t noticed. I do it a lot.
5. Inspiration will come from the things you do, the people you see, the experiences you have, the music you listen to, and the places you go. You won’t be inspired to write all the time, and when you do get inspiration, it’ll most likely come to you during the most unlikely times. Especially when you try something new. Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked? Now don’t tell me you’re a hobbit with no interest in adventures. Be like Baggins. Both of them.
6. You should not write only when you’re feeling like it. If you did, you wouldn’t be a writer. Also you would get pretty much no writing done.
7. You may never publish anything. Being a writer doesn’t mean that you should publish something. Being a writer simply requires that you write, nothing more. Write for yourself. Write because you can, and you will. Write to learn. Write because you enjoy it. But don’t write for the world, because the world always either takes what you say wrong, or they’ll hate you and your writing. (That is, if you write something that’s not like Twilight. Which I hope will be the case.)
8. You won’t be normal. You’ll be strange and crazy and impractical, but those are good writer traits, especially if your genre is speculative fiction. Normalcy is one of the prices you’ll have to pay, but you should be fine with that because writers see normal as boring. People probably won’t like you because of your weird writerly ways, but you need to learn to accept that. Because there’s no such thing as a normal writer. If you think so, go find someone who is. I’ll wait. And eventually die of old age because you won’t find one.
9. Your friends and family won’t understand you. You won’t understand yourself. You will drink unholy amounts of caffeine. You will suffer from shoulder problems, self-doubt, insecurity, underdeveloped plots and characters, missing notebooks, ink-stained fingers, the backspace button, depression, lack of productivity, rejections, and bad social skills.
10. Being a writer is totally worth it. Yeah, writing is hard. 90% of the time you won’t like your writing, you won’t like being a writer, and you won’t like yourself. But things take time. And the best things take the most time. Some of the greatest authors got a lot of rejection letters. So suck it up, work hard, do your research, and write. And when your book is done, you’ll know that the blood, sweat, and tears that went into that little stack of papers was worth it. Yeah, you might have wasted a lot of time and gone through some really miserable writing seasons, and that’s part of being a writer. But that’s what the writing community is for. We’re here for you.
So you still want to be a writer? The world needs more of your kind. Go get ’em. And may the odds be ever in your favor.