Writers live the best life ever, and the worse life ever. Sometimes both in the same day. Read on for my take on what it’s really like to be a writer.
A writer’s routine includes writing. Many don’t write daily, but they write consistently. If long periods of time go between their writing sessions, it takes them that much longer to get back into their story. Maybe they’ve forgotten how their characters were feeling when they last worked on a scene, or how to access their voice. So they re-read that scene and sometimes another before they can add new words. And for writers, that’s wasted writing time. That’s why they try to write every day.
Writers don’t actually want to write all the time. But…writers make writing a priority anyway. Even though they want to binge watch Netflix when they get home from work, or work out, or read a book, they force their butt into the chair and write the words because they know that even the greatest words will never be read if they don’t write them down… along with many others.
Writer’s spend too much time procrastinating. They peruse their Twitter Feed and stalk their friends on Facebook…even though they’ve set aside sacred time for writing. Then they wonder why they’ve only written 200 words in two hours. True story.
Writers think their stories stink. They also think their stories are brilliant. They think these things every day and sometime both on the same day.
Writers think about their stories even when they’re not writing. They think about the world they’ve created while showering, while cooking, while grocery shopping and even sometimes while they’re talking to their mom on their phone. Sorry, Mom! Not that talking to Mom isn’t important, but characters feel like children to their creators and the worrying, the planning, the dreaming about them simply doesn’t end when a writer turns their computer off.
On each and every birthday, writers make a writing wish. While they blow out their birthday candles, they quickly sum up their greatest writing desire. They wish to finish writing their manuscript. They wish to sign with a literary agent. They wish for a big fat book deal. They wish someone will buy their book, or lots of people will buy their book. They wish for a book launch party. They wish everyone will love their book.
Writers drink warm drinks. A lot of them. They drink coffee. They drink tea. They drink lattes. They drink Red Bull. Oh wait, that last one isn’t warm. Well, I guess it could be, so whatever. And these drinks seem to fuel their creative energy.
Writers sometimes write in their pajamas. Actually many writers write in their pajamas and don’t shower or brush their hair. It’s kind of a thing, I guess. However, some writers actually shower every morning, get dressed in real clothes, do their hair, AND put on make-up. That’s actually a thing too. I hope I don’t have to tell you which one refers to me.
Writers hate telling people what their story is about. They can write a 70,000 word novel but writing an elevator pitch is worse that running out of coffee. Writers didn’t always feel this way. When they first started writing, they loved telling their family and friends what their next best seller was about. But after seeing too many blank faces staring back at them, and wasting too many words trying to make their story sound as amazing as it is in their head, they realize it’s better to be vague about the whole thing.
Writers panic every time their words are read. They hand those precious pages filled with their blood, sweat, and tears over to their beloved critique partner or agent or editor for the first time and they resort back to the cafeteria as a middle school kid. Will they like my words? Will they love my characters? Will they hate them? Will they think my writing sounds amateur? They think these things if they written three books or even if they’ve written thirty.
For a writer, writing partners are pure gold. A critique partner is like a best friend and workout partner and sister rolled into one. They understand your dreams, they understand your goals, and they know how hard you’ve worked through the years to make a sparkly story. They also give tough love when it’s needed. They are a writer’s cheerleader in the best sense of the word.
Writers wonder each day why their families expect dinner every single night. They feel bad when they order out. But they soon get over it because by not spending an hour cooking a meal that’s devoured in five minutes flat, they’ll have time to write 500 more words. And there won’t be any clean up.
With that said, writers love their crock pots. Or at least they want to. They want the ingredients they throw in there to magically turn into a gourmet feast. Because, ya know writers are good at dreaming.
Writers work at other jobs to pay the bills. Unless they are JK Rolling, independently wealthy, or have another source of income in their family, they find other ways to make money. They do freelance work, they work another job, or they sell their stuff on Craigslist. How’s that for reality?
Writers experience serious self doubt about their chosen profession. But they write anyway because they love to write. And they are gluttons for punishment. They spend too much time staring at a blank screen wondering if their idea is any good. But then another idea sparks and they splash it up on that blank page. Then the doubt is gone and replaced by a great sense of accomplishment.
Writers spend and awful lot of time by themselves. Most writers love this. It’s not a death sentence. It’s glorious time spent with their laptop, coffee, and the imaginary world they’ve created from nothing. It exhilarates them. It’s better than sunning themselves on a beach. Well, maybe not quite but you get the idea.
Writers write the stories that must be written. Writers constantly have stories that live in their heads, begging to be told. They write them in the car while waiting for their child to finish practice. They write late at night when the house is finally quiet. While other people are sleeping in or getting up at 5am to workout, writers are writing. Because that story swirling in their head insists on it.
Writers find inspiration in anything. Music. People. Places. Situations. Experiences. Pets. That’s why they do more than sit at their desk or in a coffee shop. They go outside. They run. They walk.They talk to people. They travel. And they love people watching. Oh, and people listening. But then they turn into hermits again. Because well, they’re writers.
Writers read their horoscope. They read tarot cards. They look for angel signs…or any signs that will tell them their manuscript is good enough and will become a real book someday.
Writers love Staples and Office Depot. They love pens. They love paper. They love notebooks and pencils. They love sticky notes, index cards, and pretty journals. They do.
Writers love to talk to other writers about their stories. And they especially love meeting their writing friends for coffee. No one knows the challenges and successes a writer feels, like another writer.
Writers love belonging to this secret club of writing people. They know how hard it is to write a complete story from beginning to middle to end, full of amazing characters, world class goals, unthinkable obstacles, and emotion that runs off the charts. They know what it takes to write a stellar picture book, hysterically heartfelt middle grade story, or gut wrenching YA novel. They get it and they’ve done it, and that’s kind of exclusive.
Writers celebrate writing successes. Like when they finish their first draft, when they finish revising, when they get their first full manuscript request, when they sign with an agent, when they get a book deal. There’s often chocolate. Usually wine. Always hugs and screams and sharing on Twitter.
Writers are genuinely excited for other writers when they achieve success too. And not only because they think if it can happen to another writer it can happen to them too. It’s because another baby story is about to be born at the hand of a fellow writer who has worked just as hard as they have, and maybe harder. They love seeing other people’s dreams come true.
A writer’s life is a great one, because writers get to write. They get to share their stories with other people. They get to be creative. But it takes a patient person to enjoy all that goes along with it, that’s for sure.
So writers keep writing. They keep creating. They keep the words coming. They keep buying pencils, and drinking coffee. They know one day there’ll be chocolate and lots of readers for their story. They know their book will save the day for a young boy or girl one day… and that’s why so many writers knowingly choose to live this crazy writing life.
For more posts on living life as a writer, click the links below:
4 Signs You May not Fit the Writer’s Stereotype
An Open Letter to my Future Reader
I Have an Agent Announcement
What Happens After you Sign with a Literary Agent
Things You Imagine While Out on Sub
I Have a Book Deal