The Most Difficult Things Writers Have to Explain to Non-Writers, Part 2


One big difference between people who write and people who don’t is that people who write get what it means to be a writer … and people who don’t write … don’t.

While we’d love to say writing is all fun all the time, the reality is, it isn’t. Which can be frustrating when there are friends and family always going on and on about how easy we have it, getting to write for a living (or trying to).

Our first post on this topic covered a few literary phenomenons most people don’t understand, like characters taking over stories. This post talks more about writing as a process, which is also something nearly impossible to understand if you don’t basically write to live.

Difficult Thing #4: Writing is hard

“You’re a writer! Wow! You have, like, the easiest job ever!”


Enlighten me. Where in the world did this one come from?

Introduce me to a writer who can look me straight in the eye and tell me they have an easy job. It doesn’t matter if you’re a novelist or a journalist or a PR intern or whatever your official title is. Writing is hard. There are days words just do not come together to form coherent sentences. But most of the time, you have to write anyway, because there are deadlines and people counting on you and expecting you to get your work done. Always.

Sure, maybe some days words come easily and you can write ten 500-word articles in an eight-hour work day. But you’re not just a writer. You’re a reader, a re-reader, a proofreader, an editor, people tell you to rewrite, and re-rewrite, because a first draft is never perfect, and sometimes, a final product has to come pretty darn close.

It’s not that writers don’t love what they do. But to them, writing is work. If you want to be a writer because you think it will be easy, you should probably start looking into different professions.

Difficult Thing #5: Writing is not always fun

“You’re a writer? I’ve always wished I was a writer, it sounds like so much fun!”

Sure … writing can be fun. Sometimes. But it’s a huge misconception that being a writer is the most fun job you could have. For one thing, writing is hard (see above). Just because you might be able to sit down and write a story that makes you laugh and is entertaining to write doesn’t mean it’s entertaining to edit, revise, rewrite, etcetera.

And writers don’t just get to write fiction all the time. It depends on individual disciplines, but there’s always professional writing involved, too. Proposals, query letters, emails, marketing materials, articles, blog posts, all the technical stuff that allows writing to even be considered a profession at all.

Because many writers literally write to live (it’s their job), they write all day, and then end up sometimes writing even more, on their own, just for fun. That’s not easy on the brain after awhile.

Difficult Thing #6: Writing is literally as important as eating food regularly

How many times have people asked you, when they find out you’re a writer, “Do you write a lot [frequently]?” Probably, well, a lot (frequently).

For non-writers, the idea of writing daily is basically a foreign concept. It’s different when you’re so used to writing every day it becomes almost an involuntary activity.

To the dedicated, disciplined, experienced writer, writing isn’t just something that happens during free time, like playing video games or chatting with friends on social media. In one form or another, writing, like eating food, is a daily necessity. Without it, everything else seems to fall to pieces. Whether it’s a few minutes of journaling, writing an email or working on a blog post, article or story, words need to be written at some point throughout the day.

So if you’re not a writer, and you usually roll your eyes when your friend says she’ll meet you in five minutes – she has to finish writing – give her 10 minutes instead. She’ll be much more pleasant to hang around when she’s done and has it crossed off her to-do list.

Writing is a process. The difficulties that come along with it, while rewarding when it’s all said and done, are often hard to navigate through. Send this post to your non-writing friends. Remind them that you’re a hard worker just like anyone else. Progress isn’t always instantaneously detectable. You’re a writer, not a magician.

Give your writing friends a pat on the back. And some chocolate. And a hug. They need it.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.