The Realities of Being a Writer
The response is the same every time. When I tell people I'm a writer, they step back, their eyes go wide and they
say "Wow. That must be exciting!" There's a certain cache to being a writer. Images of long scarves, casual lunches,
leisurely writing lines filled with wit and insight while staring out the window. Everyone has a novel, or a short
story, or a screenplay or a play stuffed half finished in a drawer. The writer's life must be such a thrilling life
compared to the 9-5 drudgery of the accountant, the teacher, the administrator or financial planner. It must be so great.
It must be so easy. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be a writer.
There is a vast difference between the fantasy of being a writer and the reality of being a writer. To be sure, there
are many aspects of the writer's life which are wonderful and exciting and thrilling. But if you want to make a living
as a writer, it's important to be aware of the day to day aspects.
Reality One: Writing is a job, and should be treated like one.
It's one thing to write occasionally, or in your spare time while leisurely staring out the
window. But the job of the professional writer, is to write. Just as the job of the teacher is
to teach. The only way to build a volume of material - be it articles, or poems, or short
stories or whatever you wish to work on - the only way to create material is to dedicate
yourself to putting words on the page. The only way your novel will get finished is if you put
words on the page. Every day. You put words on the page every day just as the nurse goes
to work every day.
Also, if you give your writing the credit it is due, if you believe it is a job, and worth being called an
occupation, it will be easier todissuade those who think you should do it for free. There is a notion that since creative
artists more often than not love what they do and don't have setparameters (like the accountant) they should be happy to
write for love and not for money. Professional writers get paid. They make a living with their words. If you want to
become a professional writer, you must give your words the same weight as those with so called 'real' jobs give to their work.
If you want to be a professional writer, treat your writing professionally. This doesn't necessarily mean you
have to write eight hours a day five days a week with an hour for lunch and two breaks. The creative process is
rarely so regimented! Nor does it mean that writing should become a chore, something you 'have' to do. But it does take
commitment to write regularly. It's important to think of writing as your occupation.
Reality Two: Writing can be lonely. Most days it's you and the page, or you and the computer screen, or if
you've got writer's block it's just you. Things can get pretty silent - which many writers enjoy. But what if you
don't? If you're not the kind of person who works well alone, or has a hard time self motivating it's going to be
tough. This is particularly true in the beginning stages before you get a publisher or a production. How do you move
yourself and your work forward?
Figure out how you work best as a writer. If you like background noise, go write in a cafe. If you need someone
else to set your deadlines, join a writers group where you have to present your work. In this age of social media there
are so many communication and connection outlets, find other writers through face book or Twitter. Go to Alltop.com, read
other writer's blogs and leave comments. There are no excuses these days for a writer sit alone in a room, unless
it's by choice.