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Friday, December 23, 2016

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being A Writer

Sorry for the delay of today's post. I waited for my new charger/adapter because it's burdensome to write, format and upload blog posts on my phone. Alas, it came but it was the wrong one. So here I am, working on this post on my phone and no other computer at my disposal as I've started my winter vacation from work.

So here goes...this writing journey we're on isn't always easy. But it's it'd be nice to know a few things before that first step to one day being a published author.


I wish someone had told me just how hard it is to be a writer. Being a writer isn’t simply the act of writing a book but rewriting it, revising it, and editing it again and again until you either hate it or it’s as “perfect” as you can get it. Then, if you want to publish, there’s the all-new ball game of querying, rejections, rejections, and more rejections. After that comes the hard work that follows a contract; getting the book ready for publication, which could take a year.

What. You don’t think I’m done, do you? I’m just getting started. What comes next is the hardest part of all. Once you have a book/eBook published, it’s time to market: find readers and get reviews. Unlike the previous steps, these two tasks never end. And sometimes, they only get harder. There’s no one right way to do it. All a writer can do is everything in his/her power.

So, no, it’s not easy being a writer, but those who are passionate will grit their teeth through it and keep on keeping on. Or…keep on writing on.


I wish: someone had told me to get involved with other writers, told me that revisions are absolutely necessary (yup, didn't know that when I started, thought a novel should just come out perfect the first time, lol), and that practice eventually makes pretty good :)

CD Coffelt

Things I wish someone had told me... Biggest on my list is how much rejection hurts and how hard it is to overcome. The iron skin comes with time but after publishing, prepare yourself for snarky reviews.


The first thing I wish I’d been told about being a writer is about how lonely it can be. While I’ve been blessed with a wonderful support system for writing, not everyone has that luxury, and it can make it terribly hard and lonely for them. Even writers with great support systems are bound to run into someone, even within their support system, who isn’t interested in hearing about the latest plight their characters have become mired in. Or that isn’t interested in hearing about all the interesting facts they discovered about the process of rigor mortis, or about life in Ireland in the 1600s while they were researching their latest manuscript. Sometimes they’ll get to share these facts with someone, but other times, they’re going to be stuck with keeping that information inside their own heads. It’s also lonely because often non-writers don’t understand how frustrating the process can be. They don’t understand that you don’t know how long it’s going to take to write it, or how long the book is going to be. They also don’t understand how much research has to go into making certain things accurate. They don’t get the desolation of writer’s block. This is one reason why having a great support group is so important, even if the author has to find an online writer’s community to rejoice with them when the writing’s going well, and to commiserate with them when it’s not.

Other things I’d wish I’d been told was how much research you have to do. Well, that’s as long as you don’t want to get angry letters from some attorney telling you that your attorney character would have never handled a case the way he or she did, not unless they were trying to get disbarred. Or have some nurse tell you that your nurse wouldn’t have conducted the procedure you had them conduct because they didn’t have the authority to do so, even if they possessed the knowledge to. Or have a forensic expert tell you that there was no way your police officers would have received the DNA results in the timeframe they did, even if the lab wasn’t backed up. Or have some history professor tell you that there was absolutely no way your heroine would have been allowed to do something or own something you claim she did or owned, due to the laws of the time period you set your story in. Or that an article of clothing your character was wearing wouldn’t have been possible because your story was set a good decade or more before that particular article of clothing existed, or that it was called something different at that time and that the name you used for it didn’t exist until fifty years after your story was set. Then you have the joy of deciding how much of your research information to include to be accurate without creating an unnecessary infodump. I’ve had to research the resulting damage from a meteorite impact; proper police procedure when someone finds a body; the procedure for a heart transplant; laws of inheritance (and I STILL don’t have that one 100% clear!); the rate of decomposition of the human body under certain conditions; and what type of impact would be required to break both femurs at the same time. (Did you know that the femur is the hardest bone in the human body, and that it takes roughly 1700 PSI to break it? And that’s an average, since other factors can be involved, such as the angle of the impact, the person’s health and age, etc.)Ah, and number three is a hard one. Dealing with rejection. It stings at the least, rips a hole in you at the worst. There’s no quick and easy cure for it, either. You just have to develop thick skin. But rejection is one of the hardest ones to deal with. Most writers start out because they start writing and they generally get good responses. That opens the possibility to them that hey, maybe they actually have the talent to get published. But then they start sending their babies out into the world and they find that no one else wants them. So then they start second-guessing their capability. Maybe they don’t have the talent everyone led them to believe they have. New writers especially need to find the company of other, more experienced writers. Most more experienced writers are going to tell you what’s wrong with the story, but you need to be prepared to hear the truth, since some writers are more gentle in their criticism and others are less so. I’ve even seen some who are pretty brutal in pointing out the problems with another’s work. Rejection stings. I don’t care if it’s your first time or your 2,001st time. It stings. You just have to realize it’s not personal. Maybe that particular agent had already waded through 50 other horrible zombie apocalypse novel submissions before reaching yours and their eyes were crossing. Maybe they had just signed their third vampire romance and knew their house wouldn’t stand for just one more, even though they loved yours. Maybe they were having a bad day and you misspelled their name. Maybe they knew the market was already glutted with motorcycle-riding PIs. Or maybe you didn’t pay attention to their guidelines and you missed the fact that they just aren’t interested in star-crossed lovers who commit suicide at the end. But you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. And sometimes it hurts to realize that this particular manuscript should just be retired and stuck in a drawer for a while. Maybe you could dust if off after you’ve had several bestsellers. Or maybe you’ll pull it out with that intention, only to discover it actually was pretty terrible and you can justifiably burn it.And I also wish someone had told me about the investment of time. You have to make time to write. It’s not going to come just naturally built into your day. You have to make a conscious decision to write, and then you have to do it, no matter what. You have to set a schedule for yourself and you have to stick to it. Will you take a day off? Will you work short periods seven days a week? That’s up to you, but you have to set it and stick to it. If you sit around thinking that you’ll write when you have time tomorrow, you’ll find that tomorrow comes and you don’t have any time to write. And then you’ll think you’ll write the next day, and then next, and the…well, you get the point.There are other things I wish I’d been told, but this is probably too long as it is. In spite of the things I wish I had been told, I wouldn’t change any of it for anything. Because one thing I knew without having to be told was how wonderful you feel when you finish a manuscript, the sense of accomplishment that fills you. And sometimes that makes all the hard stuff worth it.


What I wish someone told me about writing?

Like how the bible wasn't faxed straight from heaven, all those books on the bookstore shelves didn't appear out of nowhere. You can think that you can write a book or write better than a particular author(s). But you're not just writing a book. You're doing so much more. You're giving yourself with every word, edit, revision, beta testing, querying, rejection and doubt, rewrite, etc. again and again again. You might have a better chance at getting hit by lightning than making a living writing. Even with all or lack thereof the marketing and publishing at your disposal once you do get a deal, there's no guarantee you'll be a successful or bestselling writer. Yet you can't help but to write anyways. Because you're a writer.

What do you wish someone told you before you started writing?


Darla M Sands said...

Actually, I don't so much wish someone had told me something as that a so-called mentor never touched my life. What can you do? I overcame the self doubt that ensued and am happily writing for myself now. Whether or not anything besides a short story I sold are ever published, I currently do not care.

Happy writing, my dear. And thanks to all who shared here. These are really interesting and helpful.

Liz A. said...

This is an interesting question. I'm rather glad there are things I didn't know when I started this journey. Many of the things I've learned along the way would not have been helpful to know early on in the process.

Lidy said...

@Darla Happy writing Darla. A writing mentor sounds like a good support system to help guide us through the self doubt we feel about our writing. But they don't grow on trees and sometimes we have to sack and pen up to make our writing dreams come true. Happy New Year!

@Liz True. We learn from the mistakes we make as well as learn what's right for us. Sometimes starting from a blank state is just as freeing as it is daunting.