Thursday 19 December 2013

Five Reasons To NOT Become A Writer - The Creative Process

5 Reasons to NOT Become a Writer

I know what you're thinking. Why would I, a writer, write a piece telling other people to not do it? It's simple, writing is hard! There are many reasons to be a writer - I have a piece planned for that too - but there are also many many reasons to decide against it as a career choice. Here's my top five.


When you're at a dinner party or meeting new friends or family, there is always the inevitable question of "what do you do for a living?" and when you answer "I'm a writer", you'll get a lot of blank looks. My favourite a response to this is "yes, but what do you do to pay the bills?" with a look that says "oh bless, she thinks that's a real job!" Of course, you could do what many people do and explain that writing does pay the bills or if you're not able to say that, you can argue that it's your passion, your first love and something that very much resembles work. However you want to argue it though, being a writer or an artist or anything other unstable career, you're going to come across people who look down on you for not having a "real" job. They never really explain what a real job is, just that you should be doing one. They don't take into consideration the hard work that comes from being a writer - published or otherwise - just the fact that for many people writing is not their main source of income. You may have extraordinary amounts of talent and your writing may move people to tears and/or change their lives, but the basic fact is that unless it's something you can live off of, it's not considered socially acceptable to class it as your "job".


Writing is not the type of career that you do with friends. I mean, sure you have people to work with, but generally speaking, the writing part is done with you on your own in a room with no one to disturb you. It's an isolating job because your world is all about writing and although friends and family will ask "how's it going?", when you answer and start talking about words counts and what your characters are up to, they start to get disinterested and stop asking. It's not that they don't care, because they usually do, it's more that unless they've read your work, they don't have a clue what you're talking about. As a writer, you will most likely work alone. You'll create alone and since no one has invented a way for people to see the ideas in your head, you'll plot alone too. It will be just you, your chosen way of writing and your plot bunnies and it does get to the point where you have to find some kind of social interaction or you'll be like those Sims that go crazy and start talking to an invisible bunny.


Generally speaking, unless you're J K Rowling or Stephen King, you're not likely to make enough to pay the bills. You might one month and then the next your sales are low and you'll barely be scraping by. It's not the career that will give you instant riches, despite what some people think. Most likely you will need a second source of income, another job that pays for the rent and everything else, whilst writing is more of a side gig. Some people strike it rich the first book they publish, but they are usually in the minority. When you consider just how many books there are available on somewhere like Amazon, you have to realise that not all of those writers will be making enough to live comfortably. So, unless you already have another job that will allow you time to write, writing should not be something that you do to pay the bills because usually, it won't.


When you're working in a "proper" job, you can't usually be given a piece of work to do and then say "Oh, I had surgeon's block" and be paid. The same applies to writing. If you want it to be your job, you have to continue to churn out books and they have to be of a good standard. You can't just write any old thing and expect it to sell. So, when you're hit with writer's block and you can't finish that chapter and the deadlines are closing in on you, it's stressful and it can impact the return you see on your work. If you are lucky enough to not get writer's block, the plot bunnies for a new project can sometimes be hard to catch. Hell, sometimes they don't exist for a few weeks and then you're hit with them in the middle of another project and you have to decide how you're going to handle that without stretching yourself too thin. Writing is not something you can just muddle through with little idea of where the plot or story is going, you need some direction. It's not as simple as putting two characters together and having a finished product after they walk through a trialling time, solve a murder or fall in love. If it was that easy, we'd all be doing it.

And finally, #1 - IT'S TIME CONSUMING
On average, whilst working on two projects at once, it takes me about 18 months to two years to fully finish a project. I have done things quicker, and I have had things take me much longer. However, it's not about how fast you can write the book down, it's about all the work that goes with it. You have to find an editor and before you send your work to that editor, you have to do a cursory edit. You have to design a front cover, plan marketing, decide where you're going to publish your works. You have to field emails and look for advance reviews and all of that. That's all BEFORE you click the button to publish your work. You'll also have to design a website or blog, start a Facebook page and manage that. Even if you don't plan to do any of that yourself, you still have to find the people who will do it for you. Writing takes time, it takes a LOT of time. Even if you manage to finish a book every six months, you still have to take it through the long arduous editing process and then the publishing process which also takes time. It's very time consuming and if you're having to work a "proper" job, then the time you have to spend on doing these tasks is even less and that adds more time between your book being finished and it actually being published.

Of course, these may be valid points, but people who write don't do it because they want to make millions, or because they don't have anything better to do. Writers generally write because they love it, because it's a passion of theirs, so if you want to be a writer, ignore the above and go do something you love. Keep an eye out for the top five reasons to BE a writer coming to the blog soon.

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