The Parts of Writing No One Talks About

Why don’t we talk about these things more?

People assume a lot of things about the day-to-day life of a writer.

I bet at least 25% of my friends still believe I go to work in my pajamas, spend the entire day writing, and never feel stressed, all because I work out of a home office and “writer” is the legitimate job title on all my employment documents.

Even you probably didn’t realize being a writer isn’t all about writing when you first decided to do this thing.

Here are just a few of the things writers have to deal with on a daily basis, even though, at least in my opinion, even experts don’t talk about any of them nearly enough.

Having to finish things you can barely stand to look at. I’m in the process of finishing the first draft of a book right now, and it’s horrible. I don’t mean the process is horrible, I mean the book itself is atrocious and I don’t want to have anything to do with it anymore.

But a major part of being a writer is learning that sometimes, early on, finishing is more important than doing anything even close to perfectly. I will get to a point where I can make this book better, but first, I need to get the story out. Get it all out of my system, lay it on the table, give myself enough material to work with. It’s not fun. But it’s necessary.

Data. Most writers, especially those just starting out, don’t have people around to look at Google Analytics for them. At my job, where I am employed as a writer full-time, I’m responsible for keeping track of my numbers, setting numeric goals, and analyzing it all to figure out whether or not what I’m writing about is “on trend” enough to make a difference.

If you’re not a numbers kind of person, too bad. Even creatives have to deal with finances and spreadsheets and all the things many people think they won’t have to do once they enter their “dream careers.”

So many meetings. It really doesn’t matter where you work or who you work for. Regardless of the “type” of writer you are, you’re going to have to sit in a lot of meetings. What are these meetings about? Data, mostly! Also, you talk a lot about the things you’re good and terrible at, and they’re not always terrible, but they just happen a lot. Get used to them.

Having a weird schedule. I think I’m going to explode every time someone I know assumes I maintain a 40-hour work week. I do not. I do all the job things, and then I do the Star Wars blog writing things, and then I hop over to this blog and try to help you all make sense of whatever madness we’ve all voluntarily trapped ourselves in.

I get really tired of trying to explain this to everyone. I will never, ever have a “normal” schedule. I will always go to bed and wake up at the stupidest times. I will often eat lunch at my desk. I don’t do life like the nine-to-fivers do. Does that bother you?

I could go on. But I’ll spare you — for now.

Writing is tough. Once you get to a point where you can accept that, it becomes a challenge worth tackling. For those who are willing to stick with it in the long-term, anyway.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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10 thoughts on “The Parts of Writing No One Talks About

  1. I love this post. It’s so full of truth, and insightful for someone who is still finishing edits of their first novel. Easy for non-writers to assume we just sit and play with words all day while day dreaming. Even as an unpublished writer there is much more to it than that.
    Thanks for sharing <3

    1. You’re welcome! Yeah, people think I go to work in my pajamas every day just because I work out of a home office. I mean, 98% of the time, I do get dressed … I need to feel like I’m working to get work done, ya know?

  2. I once heard Neil Gaiman say, “Nothing’s ever done. You just reach a point where you’re tired of working on it. And either it gets published, or it gets put away, and maybe, someday, you take it out of the drawer and take another crack at it.”
    I think there’s something “freeing” about that.

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