When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Then a vet. Then a surgeon. Writing was fun, but I didn’t consider it as a serious profession until my senior year of college. When I realized I sucked at science.
Since then, I’ve pursued it with a passion, writing three novels, landing myself an agent, making incredible friends, and working my ass off. I love it.
But there are definitely days – lots of days – when I wonder why the hell I am doing this. I know I am not alone. Any profession has its ups and downs, and creative careers DEFINITELY do.
So in an effort to highlight the positives, commiserate on the rough spots and just have a good laugh, here are six of my favorite things about being a writer and six that make me wish I would’ve stuck with science.
The Best: Creating something out of nothing
Whether it’s world building, character development, or the scenes themselves, there is nothing like taking the story in your head, putting it on paper and watching it unfold. You are literally creating something out of thin air. Something that has the potential to change the world, to make someone cry, to inspire a dream. That’s about as close to real magic as you can get.
The Worst: Other people’s reaction when you tell them you’re a writer
When I tell people I’m an author, about half of them think it’s pretty incredible. They may not quite understand how it all works, but they are enthusiastic, encouraging and interested.
Then there’s the other half… The half that definitely doesn’t know how it all works and has no interest in actually trying to understand. Those that dismiss it as a meaningless hobby or even dissuade you.
Some common responses that always evoke an eye roll:
- If I had more time, I could totally write a book too.
- Once I had a near death experience when a car backfired but I thought someone was shooting at me – you should write a book about that!
- Haven’t you been working on that same book for months now?
- Oh I have a friend who published a novel on Amazon a few weeks ago!
- But like, what’s your real job?
- You should pick something more stable.
- What a fun hobby!
The Best: Writing as a creative outlet
A lot of psychologists actually recommend writing as a form of treatment, a safe way to get the demons out and focus on the good. The same goes for writers. We – like any artist – have very complex emotions. And we’re also dealing with the emotions of the all the fictional people running around in our heads. Just like reading is a way to escape from real life, so is writing.
The Worst: Imposter syndrome and self-doubt
Ooph this is a tough one – both to experience and talk about. And if any writer tells you they don’t struggle with it, they’re lying.
While transferring your wonderful story ideas into the written word is the best feeling, it rarely comes out just as you imagined it. That’s when the feelings of inadequacy set in, and it’s hella harmful to both your creative process and your mental health.
This is a huge challenge for writers everywhere – so huge that I will be dedicating an entire blog about it next month.
The Best: The writing community
In the last year or so, I’ve really gotten to experience the incredible support and camaraderie of the online writing community, and it has entirely changed how I create. Whether it’s bouncing ideas off each other, sharing industry experiences or just commiserating when – as I mentioned earlier – regular people just don’t understand.
At it’s very core, writing is a solitary activity. It’s sitting in a room by yourself. But connecting with others make it not feel quite so lonely.
The Worst: The waiting
So for those of you who don’t know yet, the entire publishing industry moves very slowly. Not only is book writing/editing/publishing a very time intensive job, but agents and editors are just overloaded with submissions.
But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to wait the weeks – if not months – it sometimes takes to make forward progress. Ultimately you just have to have patience and trust that the timing will work out like it should.
And not fall down the rabbit hole of refreshing your email every twenty seconds.
The Best: Stumbling on a great idea
You’re walking along (or driving or showering because that’s when my ideas come) and BAM! A NYT Bestseller idea hits you. And the rush is nothing like you’ve ever felt. It all comes flowing through your mind and out your fingers until you look up and all of a sudden you have a fully fleshed protagonist and half an outline.
The Worst: Realizing someone has already written that idea
But then you do the worst thing possible. You start to Google. And then you realize that someone else has already written and published the exact. same. book.
It’s gut-wrenching, especially if you’ve already put a lot of time and work into developing your own. But you can’t lose faith, there are ways to adjust your own story to make it different enough to still sell. Just let yourself mourn first.
The Best: Someone falling in love with your book
Asking for and and receiving feedback is a critical part of the writing experience. Since you’re most likely too close to the project, it’s often the only real way to find out what’s working and what isn’t. It’s one of my favorite parts of the process, and I love constructive criticism.
But what I love even more is the message that they’ve read it and they LOVED it. I’ve been lucky in finding beta readers who truly enjoy my stories. And earlier this year, I was even luckier to be able to choose between two agents who were passionate about it.
The feeling of finally having someone in your corner who love your story as much as you do is simply the best.
The Worst: Rejection
Rejection is never fun but especially bad when you’ve poured months (or years) of work, blood, tears and a part of your heart into it. Writing a novel is a very personal experience, so when someone tells you it’s not good enough, it hurts.
It’s true that rejections make you a better writer and often there’s good things woven in with the bad. But it still sucks.
The Best: Following your passion
My dad’s single piece of advice to me while I was growing up was to “find your passion.” That’s easier said than done. It takes some people take decades, and others never find it. Still more find it but are afraid to take the chance.
Knowing what I am meant to do and being able to do it every single day is a great feeling – despite how scary it is.
The Worst: When someone asks what your book is about
You’d think as writers, we’d be better with words. But when someone asks what my book is about, my mind goes entirely blank. It’s full panic mode, words suddenly don’t make sense, and I get the urge to throw something at them then run away.
But I have finally learned the trick. I carry around a screenshot of my synopsis so they can just read it instead.
Overall, the good outweighs the bad though. And I wouldn’t want to be anything else.