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Friday, January 9, 2015

The Hard Truth

Sit down and grab a kleenex box, kids, I've got some bad news for you.

Writing isn't easy.

I'm not saying this to play the sympathy card, I'm telling you writing is hard so I can break your hearts, burst your bubble, and ruin your beautiful dream castle. 'cause I'm starting to believe that's the only way to get you to write a book.

If I had a dollar for all the authors I've seen come and go through writing groups in the past decade who "really want to be writers" but never get more than a chapter written I'd make the Forbes 500 list. The hard truth is: more people want to be writers than are willing to put in the work and actually BE WRITERS.

I've met people who take endless notes about the book they want to write, but when I ask them how the story is going they have an excuse. They had a book club meeting, or a tennis game, or their kid threw up, or they just weren't ready because they were rethinking their notes on chapter twelve and researching the meanings of their hero's name because they didn't want him to be associated with someone bad.

In their own minds I'm sure this sounded perfectly reasonable. To me, and to everyone out there writing books and putting them out for an audience, it sounds like a lame excuse.

I get it. The idea of being a writer is a lot more fun than the reality. The daydream of everyone loving your books and the awards rolling in along with the money, well, no one would say that isn't fun. And I understand not being able to write a story right now. I have plenty of stories with notes tucked away for when I can really get a grasp on them.

I understand being a hobby write, I was for many years. I wrote when I felt the whim. I chased every plot bunny. I laughed at the idea of publication in public while secretly dreaming of someone calling me up to say they'd seen my snippets on the blog and wanted to sell my book. It was fun. It was freeing, oh so freeing! No deadlines or expectations and it was its own kind of wonderful.

But it wasn't a writing career.

None of my publications came until I made a goal to put my butt in the chair and write a certain amount each day. If I recall I started pretty small, 500 words a day (roughly one page single spaced). I started setting deadlines for myself and asked my friends to hold me to them. That's when the books got finished. That's when the queries went out and the contracts came in.

It's okay to be a hobby writer and daydream and wish. But if you really, truly, honestly want to be a published author you are going to hit the little X button in the upper left hand corner of the screen, open a word processing document, and start writing.

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