Being a writer is an absolute blast.
My job allows me to constantly expand my comfort zone and learn new things. I am free to pour creative energy out of my soul pretty much whenever I please and both me and my readers benefit simultaneously. I get to interact with people who get where I’m coming from and people who don’t. And so much more.
It is truly a dream come true.
Some days, it is also a pretty crappy job.
Writers typically work for far less than they’re worth, even the more experienced ones. Surrounding themselves with non-writers often makes it extremely difficult to stay focused and productive. They aren’t always treated very nicely, especially online, especially if they are female. (Someday I will tell you the story about a client who did half my job for me because I “probably didn’t know anything about sports.”)
Writing is a job like any other job, no matter how many non-writers may assume otherwise. So sometimes, we just get tired. We start doubting ourselves. We sit staring at blinking cursors and blank documents wondering if what we’re doing is actually worth the effort.
I follow a lot of writers, authors, and other creative professionals online. There are some who post about their negative experiences in hopes of turning them into teachable moments. There are many more, however, who only post about the “good things” going on in their careers.
This is wonderful, and I am happy for them. And I’m not saying they need to change a thing.
But they are not painting realistic pictures of what it’s really like to be a writer. And I’m doing my best to snuff out any assumptions that writing is “always” a dream job.
Let me explain.
It would be both irresponsible and dishonest for me, as a writer aiming to help motivate, inspire, and mentor other writers, to only show and talk about one side of the writing process.
I could very easily fill my Twitter feed with “highlights” of my writing life, my YouTube channel with “how I succeed at ___” videos, and this blog with “messages of inspiration.” After all, that’s what aspiring writers WANT to hear, right? All positive messages about how they simply need to “believe in themselves” and “have a positive attitude”?
Well I’m not in this position to tell people what they want to hear. I choose to use my platform to tell both aspiring and working writers what they NEED to hear.
And sometimes that means I have to talk about the ugly stuff. Not just how to deal with rejection and how to write when you don’t “feel like it,” but also the deeper things not enough experts are talking about. Like how to maintain a healthy amount of creative expression when you’re struggling with your mental health. And what happens when you invest all your self-worth into your writing success and things don’t work out.
Thankfully, if you’ve been around even for only a few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that no matter how “dark” things might get around here, a blog post or video very rarely ends without a positive takeaway. A “things might be bad, but here’s what you can do to fix it/get through it/turn it around” message of sorts.
Because I don’t believe you always have to stick to extremes. As much as I don’t want to be the rainbows and smiles writing coach, I also don’t want to be the “you’ll never be good enough” coach. I want to be something in-between. A down to earth voice of reason who sometimes shoots rainbows out of her eyes. Or something.
You can be realistic and still chase your dreams. You can make plans and also welcome spontaneity. You can accept that writing will not always be an easy or enjoyable experience, but find it fulfilling and worthwhile all the same.
I don’t think it’s wise or even healthy to assume, coming into writing, that “work won’t feel like work.” It doesn’t matter how much you love to write or how grateful you are to have the privilege to do it. There are going to be days it’s extremely challenging and draining and you will be tempted to quit.
It takes a lot of effort to push through all that, do the work, and earn the results. This is why, if we’re being honest, while anyone can write, not everyone can be a writer. That’s not to say you can’t make your dreams come true … you just have to be prepared to do the work in order to Make Writing Happen.
There are people out there who despise what I do. I know that. They’re allowed to not like it, and they’re completely free and have every right to go out there and sprinkle “you can do anything you set your mind to” dust all over their readers’ untouched keyboards. I’m just not here for it, personally.
I share all parts of my writing experience, both good and bad, because I care about the writing community. I want people to be prepared. I want them to know they are capable of reaching their goals — but also that they’re in for a journey filled with obstacles. It’s going to be a tough ride. But I can’t just swoop in, tell you how treacherous it’s going to be, and then leave you out there to fend for yourself.
I want to help. I’ve always just wanted to help.
I don’t know if my “no-nonsense” approach to writing helps you personally. But I hope it helps someone, somewhere, on their way to achieving great things.
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.