Ah! The Writer’s Life, Right?

Writing Process 1

The life of a writer. It’s what we all aspire to, right? But what do you envision when you think of yourself living the writer’s life? What exactly is it that makes it so appealing to us? And how close is it to the reality of being a working writer?

Many aspiring writers picture working in their pajamas, sleeping in or working late, running a schedule tailored to our own personal needs. Aspiring authors may envision book tours and readings to promote their published books, maybe even autographing copies for our fans, having strangers recognize us from our book covers. Others may see themselves traveling and attending writing events and conferences, meeting others in our field and networking. All of these are beautiful visions to have and they can be a part of what is referred to as a writer’s life. They are all worthy things to aspire to, but we may not be seeing the whole picture.

A writer’s life can be all that and more, but as with anything in life, it’s not all champagne and roses. Writers often spend more time on non-writing activities such as marketing and promotion, or networking than they do on the actual act of writing. Or they are forced to spend their time not on the creative process, but on promotional writing, such as query letters and resumes.

It’s true. Freelancers spend a lot of time promoting themselves in job queries, resumes and CVs. Aspiring authors spend much of their time peddling their completed works to editors, agents and publishers. Aspiring screenwriters peddle their scripts or ideas to agents, producers, directors or anyone else who is buying scripts and is willing to listen. And published authors peddle their books online, as well as at conferences and writing events, and perhaps even, like one author I know, at the local hardware store.

As was discussed in Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Independent vs. Self-Publishing (Part 10): Conclusion, as well as in the preceding series, in today’s publishing industry, even traditionally published authors are expected to do a lot of the promotion and marketing for their books. Everybody is selling  something. Whether it’s your writing or yourself, promotional activities take a lot of time.

Networking is another necessity. It’s really another part of marketing and promotion. We can’t get our work out there to be discovered without networking. In screenwriting, the thought is that you must also live in L.A. to network advantageously. I know at least two aspiring screenwriters who recently moved there in hopes of being discovered, but it’s too soon to tell if they will reap any benefits from it.While we may dream of attending writing events and meeting others of like mind, the reality is that these activities take both time and money, and the time you invest into networking, is time that isn’t spent writing.

Then, with all of these extra-curricular activities, a writer also has clients, editors or publishers, and a screenwriter has agents, producers and directors, breathing down their necks to meet deadlines. Of course, most aspiring writers or screenwriters consider themselves lucky to have deadlines. A deadline means that you have work that involves writing, so that’s a good thing. But it can be very stressful, especially if you’re actually trying to make a living from your writing, and struggling to make ends meet.

The fact is, writing isn’t all glamour and parties. Writing is a tough way to make a living. Especially in today’s market, when everybody wants to be a writer. Self-publishing has provided the means to make that dream come true, although there are no guarantees that your book will be a huge success. And self-published authors must do all of their own promotion and marketing, too.

Writing is a lot of work, starting with the creative process and moving through the motions to promotion and marketing. You might be able to do some of it in your pajamas if you so chose. Most of what writing is, at least for those of us who are still looking for a big break, is being grateful for every writing job that comes your way, searching for that one acceptance in a mountain of rejections, and endeavoring to persevere.

Is it worth it? You bet. There’s nothing like it when you find that one acceptance and know the whole world will be able to read your work, and you may be able to put food on the table for another month, or pay your car payment, or your rent. Writing is truly a labor of love, and this blog is the proof of that. It’s Writing to be Read, and I don’t make a dime off it. My reward is in each comment that is left, each blogger that takes the time to ‘like’ a post, and each new follower or subscriber I get.

Of course, I still search for a publisher for one of my two completed novels and I submit my short fiction and poetry everywhere I can. I still want my work to be discovered, naturally. But it does my heart good to know that my writing id being read, even when it doesn’t put food on the table, even when I have to get an outside job to supplement my income. I don’t have to dream about living a writer’s life, because for better or for worse, I live it.


16 Comments on “Ah! The Writer’s Life, Right?”

  1. Tom Johnson says:

    So very true. I was writing newspaper and magazine articles while still in the work place, but didn’t seek fiction writing full time until after retiring from two professions. Yes, I experimented with writing genre fiction early on, but I still had a lot to learn. After finally retiring, and with no need to earn money, I felt I could do what I had always dreamed of – write novels and short stories for others to read. My writing had improved by this time, and publishers actually wanted my stories. I wrote to Hollywood studios myself, and learned that you needed an agent, so I found a few agents, but none ever did anything for me. In the end I wrote the kind of fiction I enjoyed, and was writing for half a dozen or more publishers. Today, I only have two active publishers besides my own imprint, and yes, I’m doing all the promotion for my books. Publishers, like agents, are doing nothing but taking their percentage from the sales. But that’s okay, my books are selling well enough to keep me writing. And for me, that’s enough.


    • You are fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue the dream without financial worry. IT’s great that your books are selling. I’m curious. Which sell better, traditionally or self-published books? Do you see any difference?
      Thanks for the comment, Tom. Happy Writing!


  2. Nancy Oswald says:

    It certainly is an interesting balancing act to maintain the writing life, both physically and emotionally. Thanks for you post.


  3. artrosch says:

    My grandmother used to say, “Oy Veyzmir”. Or, woe is me. But somehow the Yiddish lends it more piquancy. That’s my take on the writer’s life. Keep at it, KL.


  4. Phyllis E says:

    I’m another of the more fortunate writers. Nominally retired and writing for the joy of it. There is nothing that matches the joy and satisfaction that a writer feels when she (or he) realizes that her writing has touched another’s heart or soul.


  5. “Writing isn’t all glamour and parties.”

    That’s the truth! I’ve been a pro-writer for over 20 years and despite three award winning movies and 16 books with combined global sales of 750K plus, I can’t remember the last time I was invited of an event of any kind and the only glamour I ever get to see is my missus!

    Indeed, I’d like to know how to access the glamour and party side of the industry because to me, it’s some kind of mythical place largely inhabited by people who have never actually had anything published or produced!


    • Perhaps. I’ve not experienced the alleged glamour and party side either, but then I”m nearer to the beginning of my writing career, so I don’t know that I’ve advanced far enough to expect it. I wonder if other authors and screenwriters out there would agree.


  6. I agree that it’s hard work and many don’t realise the amount, so expect everything for free. I wonder how many of those ‘expectees’ would work for free?


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