I stood in front of the group to share the importance of building relationships for creating a successful writing career. The lady introducing me explained that she brought me to speak because writers are notorious loners, hidden away in our writing dungeons.
I didn't laugh. I barely broke a smile. That one action alone should prove my poise and focus - especially if you have ever met me.
My husband – and faithful roadie at these events – had stepped away from the seat next to me so he could video my presentation. I could now see him across the room, laughing without restraint.
I am not a loner.
I do not hide away and write.
I am not drinking while staring at a blank screen (in truth, I don't do much but sleep if you give me so much as a glass of wine).
I may not be normal - even for a writer - but I suspect I am not the only "not normal" person out there using words to build a life. I do not believe, even for a moment, most writers are this way (although I know there are some and we are all that some at some point in the day - or writing process). I think “being a loner” is one of many myths piled on top of an already challenging career.
Top Ten Myths about Being a Writer
- Myth #1 – All writers are loners. Writers are just like every other group of people. There are writers that like to write alone. There are writers that prefer the crowd of the local coffee shop. There are writers that love to speak and teach. There are writers that love to research. In other words, writers come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Most of us prefer NOT to get in a box.
- Mith #2 – All writers are good spellers. “You must have done great in English.” I get this comment a LOT when people find out I am a professional writer. I sometimes confess that I have a degree in Leisure Services, but it depends on how much time I have (because I then have to explain what a degree in Leisure Services does). Smart writers find great editors and software programs to help them with their struggles.
- Myth #3 - All writers just want to tell a good story. Some writers want to find ways to make money with the words they write. Some writers want to expose a hidden truth. Some writers just like seeing their words on paper. Again, the reasons writers write can be as diverse (or even more diverse) than the writers.
- Myth #4 – Successful writers make a lot of money.
(Sorry – laughing too hard to respond).
- Myth #5 – All writers want a contract with a major publisher. Some writers prefer to maintain control of their creations. Indie publishing gives writers the power to direct the path of their story that is given up with signing with a publisher.
- Myth #6 – All writers are natural wordsmiths. Every skilled craftsman understands the importance of growing and expanding the skill. Most writers attend classes, workshops, and conferences to continue to understand words and how to wield them with the most power.
- Myth #7 – All writers sit around all day writing. We wish! Writers have families. Many writers have second jobs. Most writers love words so much that they create time to put words to paper.
- Myth #8 – All writers hit the wall of writer’s block. Writer’s block never existed. The term refers to the writer’s creative ability to procrastinate and dodge the responsibility for putting down the words.
- Myth #9 – All writers are controlled by the muse. (See Myth #8) Writers that are actively pursuing words will find a way to make that muse dance.
- Myth #10 – All writers must write what they know. Writers should be writing their heart and their experiences, but they should also be writing about their interests, their learning, and their growing. Besides, you and I can walk through the exact same path and experience two different journeys.
The next time you see a writer, look deeper for the person. All writers work with words, but the similarities stop there.
See, I AM a writer. Even before I started making money and even during those times when I am making money through different professions - I AM A WRITER!
I do a lot of things that make me look like a writer and talk like a writer. And if it looks like a duck and talks like a duck . . .
Funny story, the other day, I had an image pop up on my Facebook page. It used that exact line but finished it different from anything I had heard before. “If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck then . . . you’re drunk. Ducks don’t talk.”
That struck me. I am doing a lot of things that I think I should be doing to show that I am a writer, but I am not WORKING like a writer - which means that people are not seeing the duck I want to be but are seeing me waddling around squawking. If I want to be the duck then I'm going to have to make some changes (and the key is in the "I").
Tips for Working Like a Writer
- - Working writers will work. It is a job. If I want my writing to be my career then I have to treat it in the same way that I would a traditional job. I have to write every day – whether I feel like or am inspired to write. A working write produces words.
- Working writers have a set schedule. A traditional employee clocks in and clocks out. If I want my writing to be my employment then I have to treat the writing with the same diligence. I am using timers to focus my writing and word counts to measure my focus. A working writer needs to follow a schedule.
- Working writers must (and this is not expressed enough) MUST set deadlines. Traditional employers set deadlines because workers accomplish the tasks when they are told to accomplish those tasks. Working writers need the same focus and motivation to get the words down. Working writers need deadlines to direct the word flow.
- Working writers should be aiming for goals. If I want my writing to be more than words on paper then I have to know what I want them to become and then I have to be taking the actions that will move me in the direction of that vision. Working writers need to know where they are going if they are going to get there.
"If you want to see a change then be the change." It really is that simple. I recognized the actions I had been taking were not those of a working writer, but more of a person that was hardly writing (and in truth, hardly working). When I strip away the excuses, the reasons, or the "conditions," and I choose to get honest, then I reveal my desire to "pursue writing" was more of a dream. I was not serious.
You have to be serious. If you want to be a writer, or a singer, or a dancer, or an accountant, or a police officer . . .
You have to be serious about what you are doing - and honest about what you are not doing and aren't going to do.
You CAN get there from here, but you have to make the choice to go and then step out in purposeful actions.
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