The Serious Business of Writing

I have always found it fun to imagine “the life” of a writer. Poring over works-in-progress, sitting in coffee shops alone for hours on end, possibly while wearing a beret. Writers, like other artists, have a mystique about them that makes the process of their work seem romantic and viewed through a lens that makes the edges all soft and fuzzy.

It simply isn’t true.

There are two problems with being a writer if you ever intend to make a living at it. One is that there is an endless supply of people and organizations out there who want you to fit into a mold that works for them. Imagine a search for a writer by a group or individual. The search will involve a long list of required credentials, experience, and probably writing style. Ability to write is a criteria, but it usually comes after the ability to mold yourself to what others want.

Problem number two: writing is LONELY. Really working as a writer involves many, many, many hours of laborious, painstaking work, often under the threat of a deadline. You have to abandon your spouse, your kids, your friends, and anything fun you might want to do in the pursuit of completing the task at hand. Therein lies the crux of being a writer: the task at hand will always involve an exclusive relationship between you and the written word. No matter how many editors you work with, they can’t hold your hand while you do the actual work.

Even though writing is fraught with potentially depressing moments of working so hard you can’t believe this was your dream, it’s still worth it. 100 times over it’s worth it. With work, work, work comes practice. With denying yourself personal time to have fun and spend time with loved ones, comes discipline and understanding about what it takes to really make it. It takes serious, hard work. But man, is it a wondrous labor.

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