Writing is hard. A lot harder than many people think. But why? How hard can telling a story really be?
There’s a reason writing is such a draining, yet rewarding process. Because when it comes down to it, you’re not just writing.
Oh, you do a lot of writing. Day after day after day.
Then you finish writing whatever it is you’re writing …
And that’s just the beginning.
Writing online is more of a long, strategic process than many people realize. First there’s the whole coming up with an idea, doing research, writing, editing chain of events we’re all familiar with. Then there’s photos. SEO. Social media promotion. Link building, expert outreach, responding to comments, commenting on other people’s work …
It goes on. And on. And it does not stop.
And the more you build up an online presence, the harder all of this becomes.
Not “hard” as in “I can’t do it.” Hard. Like, wow, this takes some actual effort. So anyone who thinks sitting here, writing and hitting publish is all we do all day — no. Just … no.
The deeper I dive into writing as a business — as a career — the more I want to communicate this reality to writers who are still figuring this whole thing out. It’s a LOT more work than you think it will be. It’s working late on a Friday to catch up on answering comments that have built up over the past week. Forcing yourself to write when you’re all burned out of ideas. Getting paid to do a lot of it, but nearly enough for the amount of hours you put in to create good things.
I’m not complaining. I love what I do. Even the free stuff.
But my heart breaks for anyone who comes into this thinking there’s an easy way to make it work. Because there isn’t. I joked last week about “instant success,” but in hindsight, it really wasn’t a joke. Content comes first — of COURSE it does. Everything after that … there’s just not one way to do it that’s going to be 100 percent effective for everyone. You have to learn by doing. You have to put in the hours upon hours of work to figure out what’s going to work for YOU.
A lot of people just haven’t been doing this long enough yet to have the stamina to stick with it. Many figure it out – but many just don’t make it that far. And as much as I wish there was more I could do to help, it’s hard. Just like everything else. I can say “just keep at it” over and over and over again (and I do). But it’s up to each individual person to make it happen for themselves, in the end.
It’s so much more than putting words on a screen. Working alone, as so many writers do, you don’t get to just hand your work off to someone else to take care of. It’s all on you. It’s all on us.
I believe anyone who truly wants to write full-time, who wants to make a career out of it, can do it. I really do. I want to see you succeed.
Just be prepared. Prepare to work harder than you ever have before. And when you feel like you couldn’t possibly be working and harder … you have to work even harder.
You can do it. That’s all I can say. You can. Whether or not you do – well, that’s up to you.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.