5 Harsh Truths Every Writer Needs to Face
Non-writers often think that being a writer is the easiest thing in the world. Some of them even go so far as to say that writing for a living is not having a job. Well, writers know well that the truth is quite different. Today, however, we will talk about the people who want to be writers, but for some reason, never seem to start. They find many different excuses as to why they are not writing, why they have not started yet. Are those excuses, or is there a deeper truth to it? The answer to that question would be that it depends on the person. Each and every writer approaches the act of writing differently. But, every writer also approaches being a writer differently. The reason why that happens is because there are some misconceptions about being a writer that hide deeper truths. And today, we will talk about some of the harsher truths that every writer needs to face at some point during their career. It doesn’t matter whether you are a freelance writer, a ghostwriter, a fiction writer, a novelist, or a blogger. If you write for a living, you need to face the following truths.
1. It’s definitely a job – and a very difficult one at that
Most writers would claim that ideally, they would be able to write, nonstop, for eight hours a day. Maybe they will add a lunch break. That would make it easier to plan your days, to meet deadlines without problems, be prepared for anything, and still have free time to, you know, live your life a little. Take care of the kids, or go to the gym and see your friends.
The reality is quite different. First, you might write for eight hours a day – but will the content be readable? Maybe, if you are a very talented writer with an incredible amount of brain power. Because writing comes down to that – brain power. People spend most of their days inside their heads, thinking, but how many hours can you spend thinking and putting your thoughts into words? When you write for a living, you learn that it varies. A simple spilled coffee in the morning can literally make you non-productive for hours. That’s why writers have good days and bad days, productive days and non-productive ones. Because if your mind and brain are not up for it, well, there is literally nothing you can do. Even if you have a routine, even if you use all the tricks in the defeat-writer’s-block-toolbox, you cannot turn your brain on when you are exhausted.
2. It can be overwhelming
Writing for a living means you will need to meet deadlines. Constantly. And sometimes, those deadlines will mean missing out – on birthdays, weddings, meeting with friends. But it goes further than that. It’s a national holiday and most people have a day off from work? Not you. You have a deadline tomorrow, so you don’t get the day off. Unless you have planned well.
That’s the second truth you need to face. The unorganized, messy writer, who writes all night and spends the day walking around a one-bedroom apartment wearing a robe is a myth. That kind of lifestyle, for starters, will make you constantly exhausted to begin with, and it will start getting to you after the first week. You will need to plan. You will need to write on demand to stick to the plan, which is not always possible. So you make contingency plans, mutable plans that will allow you to write for a living without it having an impact on your life, your health, and your mind.
3. You will not always write what you want
This is not something that only freelancers and ghostwriters need to face. Here is the truth: even if you are a blogger or a fiction writer, you still need to write what the audience wants to read. Otherwise, you will struggle, and you will not be able to write for a living in the first place.
The good news is that you can compromise. There is an audience out there for what you want to write. You just need to find it, research it, and find common ground and be original. So, yes, being a writer doesn’t always mean write. There are also other tasks you should be prepared to do, and learn how to do as well.
4. You need to start, even if it’s small
You might read books about writing, you might read articles about writing, tips and tricks. You might learn about structuring a scene, a chapter, a novel. But none of that will matter unless you write. You are not taking your time to prepare and learn. You are putting off your learning process.
Because it is only through writing that you can improve and constantly get better. With every word you put down on the page, you become a better writer. After a while, you will feel getting better, you will feel how writing becomes like breathing. That doesn’t mean it will become easier. After all, you breathe laboriously on occasion, don’t you? Writing can be like that too. Sometimes smooth, sometimes rough.
5. It can be psychologically demanding
One of the major truths you have to face is the fact that you might not get that worldwide fame you’ve been dreaming of. You might have a successful novel, but the following one can be a misfire. Being a writer means riding on a wheel – sometimes you are up, and you don’t have to worry about paying the bills. But, a month from now, you might be down and not know how you will make it. The uncertainty is psychologically demanding. But, you should not give up – not at the first, tenth, or thousandth road block. Writing for a living can be a thrilling ride, but it can also be a tough one as well. Accept both aspects, and you will be able to find joy in it.
Or, you can always write on the side as a hobby and never discover the delights and difficulties of being a writer. It’s your choice, in the end.
Also published on Medium.