I would like to share an article/blog I came across when searching for something (I forget what). My point is this : author Susannah Breslin was paid by Forbes to write this article. She’s had numerous responses to her article (to which she duly replied).
However, I have added two comments/replies which I liked/thought were relevant to unpublished authors/writers (haha, my blog, I choose).
NOW – to all newbie writers/authors/what-ever-you-want-to-call-yourself: Should you (a) read it, weep and burn that manuscript which you’ve been afraid to send in for review? or (b) think to yourself : what a bunch of crap, I consider myself a writer & if you don’t like it, you can shove it. LOL
There are no other options. Let me know. A or B?
I for one, have written only ONE manuscript (unpublished as yet) & am currently busy on only the SECOND ms – not very far into it I might add. Does that make me a writer/author or a wannabe? (I consider myself an ‘aspiring author’ – check my ‘About’ page).
6/12/2012 @ 12:48PM |33,392 views
Why You Shouldn’t Be A Writer
So, you want to be a writer. You were always good at it, or you never tried it but want to give it a go, or your friend makes money doing it and maybe you could, too.
They taught you grammar in grade school, or your high school English teacher suggested you had a certain aptitude for putting words together on a page, or you have a degree in Writing from a college that has spawned authors on the New York Times bestseller list.
I’m going to be a writer, you decide one day, sitting on the crapper, considering your life on the way to work, walking out of the office where you signed the divorce papers.
Really, though, you shouldn’t be a writer. Here’s why.
TIP #1: You’re not good at it.
Just because you can write doesn’t mean you should. Just because you do write doesn’t mean you’re good. You could call yourself an Olympic diver, but that doesn’t mean you are.
Congratulations on penning that poem, posting that blog post, self-publishing that novel, finishing that manuscript, churning out that personal essay that is sitting on your desk, hard-drive, the internet.
But here’s the question you should be asking yourself: Can I write? Not literally. Not physically. Not technically. Anyone can do that. Can you make the words sing? Does your prose have that certain something? Are you gifted at showing not telling, or telling not showing, or creating an entire world that didn’t exist before that is born again when someone else reads your work?
Probably not. Most people cannot write well. This is a fact. This is something that is true. This is a hard thing to accept. Most people cannot write well, and that includes you, and what we can conclude from this is that the person we are talking about here who cannot write well is, in all likelihood, you.
TIP #2: It’s too hard.
Think digging ditches is hard? At least you know when you are done. Think erecting a skyscraper is hard? At least what you have when you are finished is an unequivocally completed project. Think flipping burgers at the fast food restaurant in the strip mall of the nowhere town in which you live sucks? At least you get a paycheck.
Writing is thankless work. It is like housework. It is like laundry. It is like a soap opera. It is never finished. There is always more to do. People may tell you that you are good, but you won’t believe them, or you will believe them too much, or you will not know who to believe, least of all yourself and this thing you created that is nothing more than a mess of letters trying to make sense of things that don’t: life, death, what happens in between.
No one can help you.
TIP #3: It’s too hard to monetize.
No, you say. Not me, you insist. You’ll be the exception to the rule. The one who rose to the top of the pyramid. The one who put in his, or her, or its 10,000 hours and transformed what was barely a skill into a gift that will change the world, inspire others, and earn you millions of dollars.
Odds are, you never will. This is your roulette wheel, and when it lands on every number but the one you picked, and you realize that after years of work, you haven’t made more than a pittance at what you thought would be your new career, you will call it a day.
Because you didn’t have “it.” And you didn’t work hard enough to become it. And you will see you should have picked something else: something easier, something less complicated, something other than a writer.
REPLIES WORTH MENTIONING:
(1) ANSWERED BY ’10 MINUTES’
“True writers feel they will simply burst like a firecracker into a gazillion tiny letters that fall slowly to the ground if they do not write every day, every week, all year long. They can’t help it, the words spill forth as if they had minds of their own.”
This definition is completely arbitrary, as inaccurate as it is discouraging to those (apparently non-true?) writers who don’t fall into this weird elitist category concept, where ALL ‘true’ writers have some unstoppable drive to write all the time OR ELSE!…
Or else what? There’s no real explosion that comes when a real writer can’t write. Maybe you DO feel you need to write to let it all out. Maybe you get depressed because you feel you can’t write anything. Maybe you don’t feel much about it because you have bigger priorities in life than, well, writing words down at that moment. (As the article points out, writing doesn’t usually equal piles of money, and money is a big issue for humans who want to, like, eat and live and stuff.)
My point is, writers aren’t some kind of ancient bloodline of people with this magical flame of writing inside them. Writers are people who write stuff, pretty much nothing more, nothing less. Even if you’re just trying to define good writers as those writers who have that inner fire, that obsession, it’s still just plain untrue that only ‘true’ writers are that and only that.
I think the fact that a lot of successful writers seem to be that way has made us draw this incorrect conclusion, subconsciously for some of us. Is every true artist a firecracker full of their art, ready to burst at the seams? Of course not, no matter how many good artists ARE that way.
Completely different levels and types of writers are all over the place and, each being complex humans, they all handle their inner writer in their own unique way. A person might have all the write in the world in them but, for whatever reason, doesn’t actually write it down. Another person might make a profession out of ‘writing’ this or that but have almost no creativity or art in them and just write by formula. Can you say which are true writers and which aren’t? I don’t feel I could. Yet the Internet writer hivemind seems happy to blow down the houses of those who don’t conduct this art their way and bellow at them, “YOU’RE NOT A WRITER UNLESS THE WORDS COME OUT OF YOUR PORES, UNLESS YOU DIE IF YOU DON’T WRITE! WHY AREN’T YOU DEAD?”
The point isn’t lost on me that there’s a lot of people out there who call themselves writers and probably don’t really write enough to deserve that (obviously very prestigious) title. MY point is that, by shifting our view so as to eclipse these ‘non-writers,’ we’ve not only ostracized writers who don’t fall in line with this false superman/chosen-one superwriter concept, but we’ve also taken on a task which should never be touched anyway: Defining who is a SUPER COOL AUTHENTIC REALLY REALLY REAL WRITERPERSON!
And out of that petulant elitist spirit is born articles such as these. Don’t fret, though, folks. Good or bad, frequent or not, if you call yourself a writer, you probably are. Keep writing on!
(2) ANOTHER ROPEY BY EMMA MIA
@ 10minutes: Thank god you said it first! I totally agree with everything you said.
This article is utter drivel. Writing is a skill like any other; it can be honed with practice. It is not always fun or easy or forthcoming, it’s work just like all work. And there are many ways to be a good writer. Someone might have skills at constructing a gripping narrative, and still struggle with the prose on a sentence level. Another writer might create elegant lyric prose, which seems lovely for a while, but has a tendency to meander and never seems to arrive at any given point. Some writers are funny. Some writers have a flair for ambiance. The key to success is knowing one’s own strengths and using them to the advantage, and working to strengthen one’s weaknesses.
Besides which, it’s a well understood fact that good writing does not always equal commercial or marketable writing. In fact, many of the books on the NY Times best seller list don’t really qualify as “Good” in an academic sense of the word. Does that mean they’re bad? Yes, but bad-in-the-best-way is often better than good, and certainly more profitable, at the very least.
But don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. There is room for cautionary tales… but Lori Moore did it better. Less mean spirited, more humor, more honesty. But then again, she’s Lori Moore
@ Susannah Breslin: I’m honestly impressed that you have the audacity to say in an open letter to the public, where even you’re favorite writer of all time might stumble across your article and read the encouraging words: “Most people cannot write well, and that includes you, and what we can conclude from this is that the person we are talking about here who cannot write well is, in all likelihood, you.”
Well well well, that’s an awful bold thing to say, especially for someone who includes a link to her personal blog– where you post excerpts of your unpublished novel for all the world to read, and critique the questionable use of pronouns and self-conscious quirky style. So, “Congratulations on posting that blog post, finishing that manuscript, churning out that personal essay that is sitting on your desk, hard-drive, the internet. But,” maybe you should lay off the cautionary tales and the hate mail to new, young, and hopeful writers still in the process of “finding their voice” and focus on your own. Everyone will be better off, including you.