5 Hard Writing Truths

Photo credit: Victoria Nevland on Flickr
It’s been a while since I’ve done a writing truths post, so I figured now, as I eek out the last couple scenes of my latest WIP, would be as good a time as ever.

I’ve written about general writing truths and truths I wish I knew before I began writing. Now here are five hard writing truths, that may not be the most enjoyable to consider, but are true nevertheless (and thus, worth knowing, I think).

  1. Writing isn’t always fun. Recent example: I decided it’d be a good idea to draft two first drafts back to back, during a time that I’ve basically been busier than ever. (Spoiler alert: I was wrong). It usually takes me a month (or less) to get through a draft, and with both drafts combined I’ve been first drafting since…oh…beginning of June? Something like that.

    Anyway, I finally finished yesterday (after writing this post), but it felt like forever for me. And I was tired. And there were many many days where the writing dragged, probably because I was a little burnt out, but the book wasn’t going to write itself and so I kept showing up. And sometimes (a lot of times, really) it wasn’t fun. But if your goal is to make a career out of your writing, then you need to learn to show up even when you don’t feel like it, even when you aren’t particularly inspired, even when you’re tired and would rather…not.

    And you know what? Sometimes it starts off not fun, but as you get into the zone, it becomes fun. And even if it doesn’t, at least you’re progressing, which is always a pretty big plus. 

  2. Sometimes you won’t do anything wrong and your MS still won’t sell. Whether sell to you means getting an agent, getting a publishing contract or selling reasonably well in the self-publishing market, this still applies.

    Sometimes, writers write really awesome books and they revise and revise and revise and the book is totally not the least bit bad but…it ends up trunked anyway. It happens. It happens a lot, unfortunately, whether because it wasn’t the right time, or the market just didn’t like it, or whatever the case may be, but it’s a reality of publishing.  

  3. A second job is (often) necessary. This applies to both self-pubbers and traditionally published authors. Most writers have to wait years after publishing their debut before they get enough steady income to be able to support themselves on just their writing. It often takes several published books and a lot of time to be able to establish yourself and get some consistent sales in. It’s not an easy thing to accept, particularly if your dream is to make a living just writing (which is the case for many many writers), but it’s the truth.

  4. So. Much. Stigma. If you write YA, you will face book snobbishness stigma. If you write NA, you will face book snobbishness stigma. If you write romance, you will face book snobbishness stigma (especially if you’re a woman). If you self-publish in any genre, or publish with a small press in any genre, you will face publishing snobbishness stigma. If you’re a woman who writes in a traditionally male genre (or a genre viewed as traditionally male) you will face sexist book snobbishness stigma.

    It’s irritating. And infuriating. And completely unfair and needs to change. But it is, unfortunately, a very prevalent (and mostly unavoidable) issue.

  5. It never really gets any easier. A lot of times new writers have a tendency of thinking that once they get published, life will be sugar rainbows and rose petals. You’ll get into the swing of things, make some money, start publishing book after book like a dream come true.

    I’m not yet published, but judging from the experience of authors way more experienced than myself (like, say, Sarah Dessen), this is pretty far from the truth. (By the way, that Dessen link? You should read it. It’s a post written by Dessen about recovering after trunking a novel, because even multi-published authors face writing struggles).

    The kind of great thing about writing (and also difficult thing) is there’s always more to learn. Writers never really reach a point of mastery where the words come permanently easier and they can confidently proceed into every book with full confidence that it’ll be awesome and published. There’s always self-doubt, there’s always a struggle, there’s always more to learn and while writers do eventually learn what routines and tools and strategies work for them, writing itself doesn’t really ever get any easier.

    And you know? I think it’s kind of okay. Because yes, it’s hard, and yes, it’ll continue to be hard, but to me, the struggle makes the end result that much more rewarding. 

What hard writing truths would you add to the list?

Twitter-sized bites: 
"Writing isn't always fun" & "it never really gets any easier" are 2/5 writing truths @Ava_Jae shares. Do you agree? (Click to tweet)  
Writer @Ava_Jae shares five hard writing truths in today's post. What would you add to the list? (Click to tweet


Leandra said...

Nothing worth doing is ever easy, right? I might have to trunk a novel soon, and while it makes me sad, it is what it is. So on to revising, polishing, and querying the next one! Hup-hup! =)

Ava Jae said...

So true! And it sounds like you've got a great attitude, Leandra. Trunking novels is nearly inevitable from what I've seen. Good luck with your MSS! :)

George McNeese said...

You're right. Writing is not for the faint of heart. The process is never easy and the possibility of failure is imminent. It's not what we willingly signed up for, but within the challenge comes an unexplainable joy. The joy that comes from creating something out of nothing. At the end of the day, that is what we strive for; that is why we wake up every day and sacrifice our time and give our energy to do what we love.

RoweMatthew said...

It's just like life. Many parts of life seem difficult until you do them and then they turn out to be fun, and you never ever get comfortable with anything.

Ava Jae said...

I mean, I think we kind of did willingly sign up for it, some of us just didn't realize quite what it meant when we started. Which is okay, really. I suspect many of us wouldn't have finished that first MS had we known just how difficult it would be.

Otherwise, I completely 100% agree. Well said.

Ava Jae said...

So so true. Thanks, Matthew!

Phyllis K Twombly said...

Another hard writing truth: Some people will never take you seriously or treat your writing with respect since it's 'just a hobby' to them.

Tamara said...

Hard truth #6: Nobody will believe you when you tell them the hard truths about writing. New writers and people outside the industry will nod politely but quietly think, "Poor thing, she doesn't realize she has no talent. If her stories were any good, she would be rich and successful."

It isn't until you've published (or attempted to publish) a novel or two that you start to understand what everyone is complaining about. The literary world is a harsh, harsh place. Publishers are risk-averse. Earnings are modest, if not pitifully meager. Snobs and bullies are vicious to writers in every genre, including the literary ones. And while the books you spent years perfecting die a slow, lonely death at the bottom of the Amazon rankings, enterprising rogues who publish typo-ridden dinosaur porn are raking in the dough.

But every profession, artistic or otherwise, has its hardships. We all wail about how aweful it is to write, but for whatever reason, we all love it anyway.

Ava Jae said...

Oh wow, this is a great one. And so true, unfortunately. Thanks, Phyllis!

Ava Jae said...

Very true that people often don't believe the hard truths until they've experienced them themselves (I suspect this comes from a place of denial because people don't want to experience it). But you're very right that every profession has it's hardships—it just comes with the territory.

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