We’re all writers here. Whether you’re traditionally published, self-published, or pre-published, if you’re putting words down, you’re a writer by my standards. I think most of us can agree. Some of us are doing it for fun, while others are pursuing it as a full-time career. Regardless, there are many universal truths that pertain to all writers. Today, I’m going to share with you a list of the top five best and worst things about being a writer, according to me and several writers I know. And to make it more fun, I’ll be making references to my favorite episode of The Simpsons, “The Book Job.” Enjoy!
Let’s just start with the worst shall we?
1) Insecurity: This refers not only to financial security and job security, but also emotional security. Writers experience a lot of self-doubt, insecurity, and fear during the writing process, sometimes breaking under these emotions. There are no guarantees that your writing will be successful, and even if your first book made thousands, the next one might not. More so than financial woes, fear is probably what stops most writers from ever publishing.
2) Financial Woes: I’m sure we’re all familiar with the term starving artists. Writers are not the exception. It’s no small secret that writers don’t make a lot of money, especially when they’re books only sell for $1.99 or $.99 online. Yet, they are expected to pay out of pocket for editing fees, cover art, and marketing expenses, which can be very expensive. Readers want a quality product, but they don’t want to pay for it, and writers cater to this every day when they put their book out for way less than it’s worth. No other art form takes such a financial hit. And no other art form demands that much time. Speaking of time . . .
3) Time or Lack Thereof: Authors can’t get enough time to write. With work and family and everything else going on, it can be hard to find time to write. The ones who do, had to sacrifice a lot in order to do so, believe me. The problem with writing is it takes a lot of time to plan a story, conduct research, outline, write an entire draft, and edit the whole dang thing. Even if we quit our jobs and leave our families for a cabin in the woods, there still isn’t enough time, and we suffer from item number four.
4) Social Isolation: Writing is a lonely lifestyle. You spend hours alone at your computer everyday laboring over words. No one knows your story but you. No one understands the mental anguish you’re going through. And no one loves your story like you do. Either you’re single by choice or you drove your family away. If your family stuck around, they probably resent every moment you spend away from them to write. Balancing a writing schedule and a social life can be difficult, and most of us can’t figure it out.
5) Social Stigma: That moment when someone asks you what you do for a living, and you tell them you’re a writer. That fake smile. That glazed off look in their eyes. And that patronizing drawn out “Ahhhhhh” followed by “how interesting.” And then the awkward silence. For those who don’t write, writers are seen as weird social isolates who make up stories all day. Writers are often seen as immature or unrealistic or even crazy. The negative stigmas can be frustrating to overcome and hurtful.
How about we end this on a positive note with the best things about being a writer.
1) Making Dreams a Reality: There is no greater joy for a writer than getting the ideas on paper and seeing our stories come alive. Hours of planning, drafting, and editing go into making this happen. It’s like climbing Mt. Everest–exhausting, laborious, and painful–and worth every step, because when the work is done, you’re holding a copy of your very own novel! That is when you can say, I’m a published author. I did it. This is real. That is the greatest joy of being a writer.
2) Unleashing Creativity: Nothing is better than sitting at the computer and having a ton of ideas spill out of your brain like ink (especially when you actually have the time to jot those ideas down). New ideas and random tangents can lead your story in new and better directions. Those moments of creative freedom, when writing is truly a joy, make the more painful stages of writing, such as editing and formatting all the more bearable. It’s the reason why most of us write, except perhaps item number three.
3) Connecting with Readers: The first positive book review can make you forget your first kiss, especially if it was a sloppy one. Haha. Having a reader tell you in-person or on social media how much they liked your book can be the most rewarding and validating moment for a writer. We don’t do it for the praise and accolades, but when we receive them it’s a real treat.
4) Accomplishment: Even if our novel never makes the bestselling list in any category or subcategory, just knowing we are published is a great accomplishment. C’mon, many writers never reach the final publishing stage, so if you have, give yourself a pat on the back. Completing a novel is a great achievement and it’s something to be proud of.
5) What the Heck, Money: I know we’re not in it for the money, but money is nice. Be honest, would you really do it for free? Maybe you would, but would you work as hard? Writing can either make you a lot of money or practically no money at all. Either way, it’s nice to earn a little something for your efforts.
So those are my top five best and worst things about being a writer. Do you agree?