All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, September 19, 2022

News Flash: It's Hard Being A Writer

One of my favorite sources of inspiration (and procrastination) is the endless treasure trove that is online writer support groups. It feels like social media was invented to give writers a place to get together and vent about the myriad problems they face every day, and then kitten videos. When I check out these pages, I detect several themes, and they can be broken into two categories: Those who haven't done a lot of serious writing and think it's easy, and those who have done a lot of writing and realize there's a lot to learn. Here's some samples of what I often see on these pages - try to figure out which category they belong in:

  • I want to write a book. How do I start?
  • What is the best way to make a best-seller?
  • Should I include a prologue or try and feed the background info throughout the narrative?
  • My MC (main character) is in a moral quandary that I can't resolve. Help!
  • How do I know when my story is done? I am at 750,000 words now - do I have a book?

Hopefully, some of these questions seem obviously naïve while others seem to focus on the little details of writing technique. (And as to the last question - 750,000 words? You do not have a book, you have a problem.) I put this all out there to make a few simple points: When you start writing, technically you are a writer, and that's great. But what that also means is that you have set yourself on a journey of learning, of constant growth, occasional setbacks, and hopefully realization. Once you become a writer, you step onto the bottom rung of an endless ladder upward, and you have to travel, step by step, toward the great unknown.

The first "story" I wrote - the thing that made me that novice writer - was an amazing accomplishment. I had never put so many words to paper at one time. Yes, it was an assignment in high school, but in fact I did tell a story through the written word. It was a major accomplishment for me, and I knew doors would open for me once I handed in that masterpiece.

I got a C- on it.

Looking at that piece of work now, and it was a "piece of work" to speak euphemistically, I can see what a tragedy of writing it was. At the time, I let that C- beat me down, and I put my creative dreams to the side for a while. I did not see that I had taken that first step, and if I had been open to learning more, I could've advanced my skills far earlier than when I decided to embrace the journey of a thousand stories. If I had accepted that being a writer was hard and I had a lot to learn, it would've made learning so much easier. But, better late than never.

So, any time you feel that writing is becoming an overwhelming endeavor, just remind yourself how it is supposed to be exactly that, and the learning is all supposed to be part of the game. And then keep writing, because it's the only way to be a writer.

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