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Saturday, March 27, 2010


Don't kid yourself. Writing is work. And it can be very difficult work that requires a lot of concentration and skill. Some people think it's 'glamorous' to be a writer, believing that somehow novels are produced by osmosis or some kind of magical abrecadabra system. It's not true. Writing IS work.

It took me a long time to reach the point where I could say "I'm a full time writer", but that doesn't mean I just laze around home all day, playing at the computer, going on adventures, spinning tales. No. I really have to work at it if I want to make my writing 'pay'. Unfortunately this isn't as easy as a non-writer might think. For one thing, it's a big deal just trying to stay focused on what I'm supposed to be doing. There are countless distractions and I'm an expert at procrastinating or finding something more interesting to occupy my time. How many times a day does one need to check their e-mail or visit Facebook? That's just the beginning of all the numerous ways there are to avoid doing the 'work'.

In spite of teaching classes at which I go over the 'rules' of being a successful writer, I don't necessarily pay attention to them myself. Rome didn't get built in a day. Neither did a best selling novel.

Writing can be very discouraging work as well. If you are working on a novel, it can seem endless. Don't kid yourself into believing that a novel can be whipped up in a few months. It sometimes takes years! And don't think just because you have a good idea for a story that you'll be able to spin that story out in just a draft or two. Writing, rewriting,'s endless!

Just to remind myself of the pitfall of writing, I will write down some of the basic 'rules' here and perhaps in doing so it will stimulate me to start paying attention to the task(s) at hand, because I have to do this in order to make any new headway on the novel (which is still not completely finished) and to also make time for the travel writing that I must do. As the travel writing (for Planet Eye Traveler and freelance markets) is one of my sources of income, this is very important. I also teach writing classes, another source of income that allows me the privilege of being a 'full time writer', but this also takes a lot of preparation. So it is most important to be organized and discipline. Someone recently wrote a statement that 'writing is 5% talent and 95% perseverance' Well, in the first place you need way more than 5% talent to write successfully otherwise it's a waste of your time. But you definitely need a lot of perseverance, maybe even 100%! Writing is not easy and it can be downright discouraging. So be be successful you must persevere.

What does it take to be a writer? Basic ability is not enough. You must observe these 5 D's: DESIRE, the desire to write that novel more than anything else! DRIVE: the drive to get started. DETERMINATION: the will to continue whatever the stumbling blocks and difficulties encountered along the way (there will be lots!); DISCIPLINE; The discipline to writer every day, whatever your mood; DEDICATION - to the project until the very last page is finished. At all costs, avoid this 6th "D" DISTRACTIONS: the enemy of all writers. And then there is the very important "C": COMMITMENT. When you start a project such as a novel, you must be committed if you want to finish the work. Sure, sometimes you need to take a break, do some other kind of writing, or tend to personal affairs, but if you are serious about your work you will come back to it refreshed and with new ideas that will help you COMPLETE your project.
This novel will be with you for a long time, so you better have thought about it beforehand. When it's ready to be written, you'[ll know. It will be with you day and night. You'll even dream about it. So, if you prefer painting, cooking or watching TV, forget it! Now, get busy and start WORKING!

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Sally said...

Yes, it is! When you transition from just liking all the stuff you write as is to editing to improve, you really become a writer, I think.

Wynn Bexton said...

I wrote this in a hurry and there's lots more i could have said. So I might write a bit more on this subject. This resulted in an incident at one of my writer's groups where a newbie writer (who jots down her story half an hour before the class meets) was complaining and making bitter comments to another writer who is accomplished and works at it. It reminded me of how people seem to get the idea that what they write (first draft) is all there is to it. Boy! they don't know the half of it especially if you're writing historical fiction! And then there is all the other stuff you have to do like making time to build a writer's platform.

Debra Young said...

I'd add "R" for RESISTANCE--which must be overcome to reach all those other things you mentioned. Good post!