For those who follow this blog of gray walls and black words and a little blood spatter here and there, then you know that recently I have been on a Terrible Minds kick. I preface this piece letting you, the readers, know about Chuck Wendig’s blog titled, 25 Things A Writer Should Stop Doing. If you want to read Mr. Wendig’s post covering these 25 things, then follow the previously posted link (preferably after you finish reading this post).
His words are on the money—all 25 pieces of advice holds water better than a bucket on a rainy day. Every couple of days I go back to this post and read it and each time I think, ‘man, he is so right on this and that… oh and that, too.’
So tonight, after having read the article yet again, I want to tackle another of Wendig’s nuggets of advice. This one may be one of the top five:
Stop Thinking It Should Be Easier
It’s not going to get any easier, and why should it? Anything truly worth doing requires hella hard work. If climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro meant packing a light lunch and hopping in a climate-controlled elevator, it wouldn’t really be that big a fucking deal, would it? You want to do This Writing Thing, then don’t just expect hard work — be happy that it’s a hard row to hoe and that you’re just the, er, hoer to hoe it? I dunno. Don’t look at me like that. AVERT YOUR GAZE, SCRUTINIZER. And get back to work.
There are two types of people—and no, I don’t care what anyone else says about it. There are those who work and there are those who are lazy. Period. Sure, you can say there is an in between, but honestly, there isn’t. You either work or you don’t. Whether that is at a job or at an artistic endeavor or at being a housewife or househusband (yes, there is such a thing), its still work. For those who make an honest living out there, I commend you and thank you. For those who don’t, well… unless you have a legit reason, you and I may not get along that well.
[[Side Note: With today's economy being in the suckage hole, please understand that I'm not referring to those people who had jobs and lost them of no fault of their own. I'm referring to those folks who would prefer to sit on the sofa watching soaps all day and not out looking for a job and probably haven't held one in a while because they're lazy and prefer for folks that do work to pay their way. End Side Note]]
We live in a world of entitlement these days, a world where people think things should be handed to them instead of having to work for them. Those folks–those entitled folks–make me want to punch something… oh wait, they make me want to punch them.
Enough talk of violence. I’ll just punch someone in one of my stories…
Writing is not easy. Okay, maybe the writing part is somewhat easy. It’s everything else that isn’t. And, if you want to become a published writer everything is ten times harder. (Oh, I see those out there saying, ‘it’s not so difficult for me.’ Fine. Then you are the blessed half percentile.)
You have to:
First write the story
Edit some more
Edit, yet again
Proofread (ah, you thought I would say edit again, didn’t you?)
Research markets (often meaning you have to purchase a few books/magazines to garner an idea of what they like)
Find the right market for your work
Read the submissions guidelines (and hope they make sense)
Format the manuscript
Write the query letter/submission letter
Oh, wait, you better proof that story again
Make changes yet again
Make sure you formatted the manuscript right since you made changes
Don’t forget to change the word count
Attach the file (or send it via snail mail)
Wait some more
Still waiting, are you?
And that’s just for a short story.
That doesn’t even touch on sending out a novel, which involves so much more, including finding an agent, writing a really good query letter and synopsis of the novel and finding someone else to edit and proofread the manuscript. Oh, and the long waiting period…
If you are a writer, then you better be prepared to work for it. No writer gets anywhere by being lazy.
What if one of your short stories gets picked up? Well, you can’t just sit on it, can you? No. You have to tell the world about your publication. You have to let everyone share in your success. Do you have Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Anybeat? Guess what? You have to go shout it from the rooftops on these various social platforms. It’s kind of like those kids back in the old days that would stand on street corners selling newspapers:
EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT. MR. WORKSHARDALOT HAS A STORY PUBLISHED. EXTRA, EXTRA.
Go ahead, laugh, but it’s true. No one gets anywhere in this business without spreading the news. Also, word of mouth goes a long way. If you post a link to your story or where to buy it and someone sees it and likes the story, then chances are, they will repost it on their social media platform of choice. By doing so, the word spreads that Mr. Workshardalot wrote a good story and, by golly, you should check it out.
Do you have a blog and have 18 followers, as I do? Hey, that number has gone up recently. If so, then you need to post on your blog that Mr. Workshardalot made a sell and be proud of it. And don’t just throw that blog up without editing it and making sure it reads right and making sure any applicable links, italics, bolds and videos and images show up in the PREVIEW section. Yes, more work.
Promoting and marketing may seem easy, but after posting on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace (if you still have one of those dinosaurs), Google+, Anybeat and any number of writer forums you may belong to, as well as posting to your blog (which, by the way, you will want to post links to it at all those previously mentioned social networking sites) you will realize that you spent quite a few hours on that ‘easy’ task.
And this is all for one short story acceptance.
But, wait, I’m not done yet? Do you think your story will be accepted to the first place you sub it to? More likely than not, it won’t. More than likely you will have to submit that story to various places until some editor finds it worthy of their publication. That’s finding sometimes multiple markets to submit to.
There is also work that must be done after the acceptance and before the story comes out. There is the contract to read over–and make sure it sounds right in your ears. There is the editors edits that you have to go over and either make the changes or choose not to (but, be wary if you choose not too). There are proofs that need to be… well, proofed.
Being a writer is easy. Being a published writer is hard work. It takes dedication. It takes determination. It takes the epidermis of the largest elephant you have ever seen and maybe the tusks, as well.
Back when I first started out (which was only a few short years ago), it took me over a hundred rejections before I received my first acceptance. Did you get that? It took over a hundred submissions before someone thought one of my stories was worth publishing. At the time I thought it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. People will know my name and people will want to read my stuff and I can become famous and… oh, shut-up already.
I had no clue what it took to get my name out there. It’s a LOT of work. I wasn’t part of any social networks at the time and I was fairly bad at writing. Bad. Bad… Awful…
Thanks to some well timed advice I began to learn about writing, about how to write and about social networking (though I’m still working on that part). I had to work at it. Work. Work. Work.
Writing is fun–it is only second to one activity of the things I enjoy most. But, it’s a lot of work and if you think you can just waltz in here and start getting published without working for it, well, you better think again.
Before I go, let me add one thing to all of this work oriented talk. When you sit down to write, enjoy the process, enjoy learning about your characters and how they react to what is happening to them, enjoy letting the story unfold. If you enjoy the process of writing, it makes all the work well worth it.
Now, do you still think you want to be a writer? If so, get to work…