Daily Joe - 8 Reasons NOT to be a Writer
Welcome to Brynn's Daily Joe. It's been awhile since I did this type of blog, so I thought maybe it was time for a Joe. How are Joes different from other posts? They're a marginally less chatty, a little less about book releases, but otherwise, not different at all. It's just my blog's official title.
8 Reasons NOT to Be a Writer
I thought when I started writing this, that it would just be funny. As I started blogging, though, some of it got pretty meaty. Hope it helps (and maybe makes you laugh a little). Okay, here we go:
1 - It's a 24/7 kind of job
Boundaries? What boundaries? Everything is research. That thing your friend, family member or rando person at the coffee shop said? It sparked an idea or it might be going in the book. Further, your friends and family may think you're always working.
And it's true. It can seem like the work doesn't end. When you're not typing out words, you're doing front end plotting and planning or back end promo and advertising and building connections with other writers. Editing, uploading, managing covers, managing vendors and review teams... Etc., etc., etc.
Uncurbed, the worklist can be endless and daunting.
2 - Few take it seriously...even you
Ouch? Conversely to the "always working," I find that a lot of people (non-writers) don't understand the writing process. If you're doing something random, like the dishes or suddenly vacuuming or just drawing circles on paper, you might be thought to be fooling around when you're actually writing. The thinking process doesn't always take place in from to a computer screen or your word processing program, be it Word, Google docs, Scrivener or something else.
Unfortunately, a lot of writers "play" at their craft, too. They say they're writers, but they never write. Or they write infrequently. Honestly, that's okay. Not everyone wants to make a living with their writing.
Side note: when I say "write infrequently" I'm not saying authors need to write daily. Some authors do best with binge writing and then don't write again for days. But this is done with regularity. It's their process.
3 - Success Costs Money
This might be controversial and no one really wants to hear it, but the writing gig is very much a Pay to Play industry. Yes, you can write a book, make a cover, and even format and upload it yourself, with little to no cost. But you must spend money on covers and editing and marketing if you want your book to be seen. It is true there are some things you can do to boost sales with no money spent, but vendors and social platforms are in the game to make money. Vendors do make a little on each book sold, but most of them, as well as most social media resources, are not in the game to help you. In fact, without paying them to position your book, they may actually suppress your post or listing. This is a sad but true fact. They make their money on advertising. And once you are seen, you need to make sure your book is palatable and visually pleasing. So if you're unwilling to spend a little, this might not be the craft for you.
4 - You Must Be Willing to Change
This one is twofold and difficult. First, what is popular one year may not be popular the next. You need to be willing to shift your course (at least a little) to meet the demand of readers. I have been writing for twenty years (and published for nearly fifteen). If you look at my catalogue of books, it's...diverse, to say the least. This is because I will write a particular sort of book for a large block of time then slowly morph to a different kind of book then slowly go back to what I wrote before. Of course, I have readers who like all the different tropes, so I do get pulled in different directions a lot.
More so, even if you don't change tropes at all, even if you're like: I write Billionaire Orcs and THAT'S IT (do you want Billionaire Orcs? Now that I just wrote that, I'm intrigued), you may need to (and you SHOULD) change up your covers and blurbs from time to time. I even change up my interior content to match market trends. It's super important to look at the bestselling books in your categories and see what is selling (not that day but as a trend). ie: cartoon/drawn covers vs. realistic cover, light vs. dark, people vs. objects, couples vs. a single figure, racy vs. tame... You get the picture.
In the same way, your blurb might need to be polished up or revamped. Personally, I hate this part. I feel like I'm bad at it... (changing blurbs not writing them) But sometimes, new, sparkly copy is just the punch needed.
5 - An Addiction is Required
Okay. I'm joking.
Most writers are addicted to: Coffee, Office Supplies, Planners...
Obviously, this isn't an addictive list. Many are terrible about junk food and social media, too. But those first three are the highlights. Hand in hand with Planners is also being addicted to planning. The act of planning. But not necessarily the act of following through on the plan.
Want to be a writer? An addiction will be assigned to you.
6 - You Need to Be a People Person, Even if You're...Not
Controversial, I know. This is not about being an introvert or an extravert or the combo of both that people are talking about these days (an omnivert, I think). This is about people. You need to be able to interact with readers and other writers (who are also readers), genuinely. Many people think that being a writer is just sitting at a desk and plinking out words.
That's a big part. But you also need to be able to interact with people. If you're on social media, you will have contact (and if someone comments on your post/tags you, you should interact with a like at the very very very least). If you have a blog or a website or a newsletter, you may get mail. It's polite to answer. You should be able to pull out a smile and talk to people at book signings (And trust me, I have the ultimate resting bitch face, so I know about pulling out the pleasant face so people don't think I'm angry.)
Note: I am not talking about trolls. Delete delete delete.
7 - You Need to Be a Constant Learner
The stuff that's changed since I started writing would blow your mind. Pick up an older book, and you'll immediately see how writing styles have changed. There are always "secrets" to doing things better. Learning is the key to knowing what is working NOW. And like I said, what is working now, won't necessarily be working next year. So you'll have to learn some more. If you're done with learning, this might not be the craft for you.
Also, as I mentioned in yesterday's blog, you'll be researching a lot. Even for contemporary books. If you don't know about a certain lifestyle, job, system, location or tool... Research it!
In my last book, some of what I had to research: The daily life of a rock star on tour, venues, tour buses, who's who in the industry, who's in charge of what on a tour, what are the lights called, what's on a normal rider (celeb requirements from the venue). This was a novella, so the list is shorter than my norm.
Research and learning are imperative.
8 - You Need To Be a Numbers Person Even if You're Not a Mather
I'll keep this short because numbers...ew!
One of my favorite things to say is: I'm a writer not a mather.
And it's true. I'm good at math, actually, but I hate it. But as a writer, you also need to be able to run numbers and track sales. You need to be able to calculate numbers to see your ad return versus ad spend. You need to be able to read numbers so you're staying in the black and not the red. You also need to be able to keep word counts and word counts by chapter and estimated word counts needed to finish the book and your page count vs what Amazon says your page count is (Fun fact: they're not even close). And don't even get me started on tracking all the expenses to go toward tax deductions.
Not a mather? You might need to revisit that "be a learner" part of the blog.
Obviously, this isn't an exhaustive list. But there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to being a writer. If you're unwilling to tackle them, or even consider them, this might not be the career for you.
Tip of the Day: Set an alarm to signal the end of the day. Boundaries, people, boundaries. You will never get everything done. Don't worry. It's not going anywhere. My alarm to end my day says, "What did you accomplish today?" Trust me. I don't want to face that with, "Nothing."
Quote of the Day: There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. (Graham Greene)
What I Learned Today: The black widow spider eats her mate during of after sex. The hungry spider can eat as many as 20 lovers—in one day. You are welcome.
Lots of Love,