There comes a time in every writer’s career where you will look back and realize just how inexperienced you were when you first started. It gets so bad that you start contemplating how hard it would be to build a time machine. Well that day finally came for me.
There are many things I wish I had told myself when I first started. Don’t fuck up your novel to the point of no return would be high up on that list… But I guess there are more practical things I could say. So why not dedicate a post to it? Besides, I’m sure the advice would be useful to you newbies out there!
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
*Part 2 is now available here!*
It’s Mentally Taxing
By the gods is writing an exhausting activity. Don’t get me wrong, writing is the best thing since sliced cheese, but by no means is it a walk in the park. You’ll be thinking the plot of your new story through when you’re not writing, and you’ll be working on the plot while you write. You’ll also be dreaming about your story. You’ll daydream about it too. Basically, in all but physical form, you are living your story.
Sounds great doesn’t it? You poor fool…
It’s not hours upon hours of fun frolicking in your imagination. At least a healthy chunk of that time is spent worrying about every little detail as well as working out just how things need to unfold. And then, when you write, you have to deal with the pressure you put on yourself to get it 100% right the moment you put it down.
Sure most of this is self-inflicted and likely unavoidable, but that doesn’t diminish the exhaustion that eventually tends to settle in. Writing: the only thing we both love and hate to do!
It Takes A Long Time
Writing is the art of creating a wonderful story filled with twists, turns, interesting characters, settings, locations, and a whole lot more. You get to create the world of your dreams and create the story of your dreams! It’s awesome! You’ll have a winning novel in no time, right?
No. Not at all. Unfortunately neither life nor writing works like that. Things take time. The moment your winning idea hits you to the moment your books hit the shelves could be a short as a year, or as long as three to five years. And then there’s a chance it might still fail.
Doesn’t that just tickle you pink!?
You’ll spend a few months to a year writing the book and making sure the story flows well. It might take even longer if you’re doing a proper run of a few editing rounds. Then you might spend a long time just finding an agent (assuming you’re going to traditional publishers). After that, you have to find a publisher that likes your story enough to publish it. The publishing process could take up to another year. Then, when the book finally hits the store, it could still flop.
It sucks. Writing could basically just be a huge time-sink. Why do we still do it? Because we love it. And also because we’re a little bit crazy…
I’ll Never Be As Good As I Want To Be
Self-esteem. Oh how I despise self-esteem with white-hot passion of a thousand suns! Seriously though, why do we have it? It never has a damn good thing to say about me, and more often than not, I take what it says way too seriously. What does this have to do with writing, you ask? Good question, Jim!
You see, writing is this venture we undertake. We invest years upon years of our time into creating something worth reading. We slave over a hot word-processor all day, and for what? To be told that we aren’t good enough? That nobody would ever want to read this garbage we spewed into existence? That it’s a story not even a mother could love?
And who tells us this? The media? Our friends? Our family? Society? No… The culprit is a lot closer to home… No it’s not your dog or cat either… Yes I’m sure… The real culprit is you! Yes, the one telling us that we’ll never be good enough is none other than our own self-esteem and ego.
Unfortunately that’s just a part of being an artist. You’re never satisfied with what you’ve created. In fact, as you create, you improve. Thus all your past work will look like absolute shit compared to what you’re currently doing.
You’ll never be happy with your work. You’ll just have to accept that. Learn to move on. Learn to keep creating. Don’t give up, because then you’ll live up to your self-esteem’s image of you.
I’ve always been an avid reader. In fact, reading a ton of books is what initially brought me into the topsy-turvy world of being a writer. It may come as a shock, then, to learn that there was a time when I barely ever read.
This was during the first few steps I took into my first novel. I wrote, wrote, wrote all day and night. I read about writing. I talked about writing. I thought about writing. I did everything related to writing and being a writer, but I barely ever read. Back then, I didn’t realize my mistake.
Sure, I knew reading was important, but I never really realized just how important it was. It never sunk in just how crucial it was to read on a regular basis. Luckily I read a lot now, but I used to be very lazy in this regard.
So this has been part one of the eight things I wish I knew when I first started as a writer. Part two will be coming next week Monday. What are some things you wish you had known when you started? Let me know in the comments!
*Read Part 2!*