A Simple Truth About Writing

Alright, I’ll get straight to the point: Writing is a long-term endeavor.

Now, a lot of people know what I mean by this but—when you ask them about their writing endeavors and whether they work consistently toward their goal—don’t really understand and embody this.

Now, I read. A lot. Like, A LOT.

When I observe people—because I’m a secret agent on the side—I find that they read, which is good. They just don’t read as much as they should.

All of us aspiring writers have heard the quote, “If you want to be a writer, there are two things you have to do above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And we all know who said it.

Hint: Dark Tower, IT, The Stand, Carrie, and the list goes on.

It seems that a lot of writers read as readers and not as writers. Sure, when you get around a writing group that doesn’t seem to be the case, and even when you ask what people have read, they read some, but they don’t read a lot.

Now, I’m not saying anyone that doesn’t read seven days a week sucks and should quit the writing business. Not at all. What I’m saying is that if you want to be a writer, you must read consistently for a long period of time without seeing immediate results.

Here’s what I mean: I did some calculations for pro-market magazines recently like Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, among others. I found that one could be paid up to $3000 for a short story.

Let’s just say now I understand why they’re called “Pro-market.”

As I’ve said before, I like getting paid. I also started having those visions of what I’d do with the money and all that jazz, but when I really thought about it, I asked myself: What does it take to get paid that type of money for a story?

The Answer: Consistent hard work and dedication without attachment to immediate results.

Yeah, sounds painful, doesn’t it?

I mean, how can one do that when they have obligations like Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, Work, Family, Friends, and a whole bunch of other stuff that seems to get in the way of the main thing: Sitting your butt in the chair and crunching out words.

The answer: get rid of it. ALL of it.

Yeah, I know, those cute animal videos always cheer you up after a bad day. The latest episode of your favorite anime—the one you’ve been waiting all week for—is coming on tonight at eight. Your favorite youtuber is about to reveal their life story.

The answer remains the same: get rid of it.

Now, getting back to the main point: Writing is a long term endeavor.

You will not get a quick buck off writing. Let’s make that clear.

You can’t fool the editors, you can’t fool the readers. People recognize flat, contrived, and ill-conceived plots when they read them. I know, I’ve spotted them in horrible writing.

The thing about writing is that you have to get into a state of flow with it. Not think too much about the story structure or plot or precision with which you write or any of that stuff.

You just have to write.

If you want massive success at it, you’re going to have to go through years without seeing a dime, years of getting rejected, years of self-doubt–and self -loathing in some cases, years of questioning the purpose of your existence, and years of thinking everyone else is better than you are.

This is not a game. This is serious.

Writing is not for the faint of heart or the short of sight. You must have a vision, a purpose. Your characters must have that too, or they’ll always be stuck on the page. You must bring your characters to life so they can bring you to life.

That’s what being a writer is all about.

Alright, that’s my speech on it. Till next week . . .

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