So, I have a book available that explains what it takes. But, it’s still one of the questions I get regularly and I like to try and answer it as best I can. What does it take to be a writer?
Now, we’re talking about writing as a profession. Lots of folks write by candlelight after a hard day of working somewhere else. And that is tough to do. But for the sake of this blog, I’m going to cover, very casually, what it takes to be a full-time writer. Ironically, I chose a photo of a knight preparing to go to war. Why? Because that’s what it feels like each and every day.
You have to war for it. You have to be willing to raise your ass out of the bed after only a few hours of sleep and get to it. Just like any other job. I love writing. I truly do. But it’s not what I want to be doing at 7 in the morning. Something clicks inside of my head and reminds me that thousands of brand new authors want a piece of the pie. They’re hungry to succeed, which means I have to work harder. It means late nights of writing, too, when all of my friends are out drinking somewhere or playing games online. It means giving Facebook the middle-finger while others flock to it with open arms, wasting precious time and life in the process. Writing full-time means reading in the car, when others are dabbling away on their smart phones.
There’s nothing glitzy or glamorous about the profession of writing. Nothing. If you’ve ever seen Stephen King speak to a group of college kids, you understand that he’s showing up in blue jeans and a bargain rack shirt. He’s also talking about staying in a cheap hotel the night before and how much he hated it. Even the most brilliant man in our profession realizes that we are not rock stars. Authors are people who work their asses off, live very modestly and humbly pour their souls into a keyboard at night when everyone else is sleeping tight. Does this sound like you?
I’ve often told people that writing for a living is like getting into the best shape of your life. You can’t halfway do it, and there’s absolutely no silver bullet pill or plan. Getting into pristine shape means completely changing your way of life. You reprogram the way you think, eat and live. It’s why most people desire to be in shape, but few actually get there. People are too lazy to do the work. And that’s also why so many authors are still aspiring, rather than finding success. You have to be willing to go to war. That means thinking like an author who’s depending on a paycheck in order to survive. Not going into it half-assed or half-committed. Mentally, you have to become something more. A beast. A monster that fights against the desire to become complacent. When the voice inside of you is telling you that you’ve done enough – you scream out a good curse word or two, and then you do more. Hard work gets you there. Period.
So yea, if you’re willing to trade in your social life for the art of writing – do it. Prepare to make very little money in your quest to make your genre a better place. That comes with the territory. Ready yourself for the negative reviews, because they will certainly come. But it boils down to one simple question.
Are you willing to do the work?
Most aren’t. The longer you’re around the profession, the more quitting you’ll see. Most will find reasons or excuses as to why they didn’t accomplish their goals. But that’s a quitter’s way of trying to save face. It always comes back to a willingness to do the hard work with no recognition. That’s writing. If you’re out there reading this right now, you already know which side of things you’re on. You already know if you’re willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of writing full-time. That’s the key, folks. You can stop buying how-to books on writing, now. I’ll leave you with a great quote from someone who knows a little bit about success.
“You just can’t beat the guy who won’t quit.” – Donald Trump