Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Writing is Hard

NOTE: I wrote this post after dealing with my loved ones' opinions for many years. I hope this real look into what writers go through to write a book and get published will change the minds of everyone who thinks writing is easy.


There is a misconception that writers spend their days sleeping in until noon and wearing pajamas. Then when they sit down at their computers to write, words just flow from their mind to their fingertips and they tap away at their keyboard with a blissful smile on their face.

While some writers can sleep in until noon and may wear pajamas all day, and there are those authors who can write a book in a matter of months, this is not the case for most of us.

Some days we battle writer’s block. Other days procrastination settles in. We know we have to write, but we just don’t want to. Maybe it’s because we dread not being able to come up with something great, or we are just tired. Yes, writing can be exhausting! Then there are days where we can write an adequate amount of pages and pat ourselves on the back. Occasionally we can complete a few chapters in one sitting if we are on a roll, but this doesn’t happen nearly as much as we hope it would. 




It very well may take us up to two years of our lives (or more) to complete a book. Then when we finally type “The End” at the bottom of our manuscripts, we have to begin the tedious job of editing. This has been known to cause a lot of hair pulling out and involves many stages.


Once the manuscript is as good as we can get it, it’s time to pursue publication. WARNING: Don’t be fooled by Stephenie Meyer, who gave her manuscript to a friend who then passed it on to an editor at a publishing house she knew. Getting published can take years, and requires a lot of research. 



Now comes the long process of mailing out queries and samples and waiting months to hear back, most often for a rejection. Unless you’re lucky. And since many agents barely give unpublished writers a glance, many of us have to fight to get publishing credentials by publishing short stories, essays and articles, which is another battle in itself as magazine editors also look at publishing credentials.  

When we do get a publishing contract, a new set of obstacles arrive: more edits and a boat load of promoting that takes even more research and time.

The bottom line?

Reading an amazing book may be easy but writing one requires an abundance of knowledge, imagination, originality, passion, energy and time, as well as patience. Just as with any skill, you have to learn, practice and nurture it. Just as with any career, you have to work hard to get it. Just as with any talent, not everyone is capable of doing it.


QUESTIONS: Do your loved ones think writing is easy?

If you’re published, what did you have to go through to write and publish your first book/ebook?


56 comments:

  1. I think a lot of them do. Not my husband, though. He sees what i go through and he knows it's not easy.

    And I agree when you said writing can be exhausting. Sometimes it is incredibly mentally draining.

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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    1. Wouldn't if be great if we could give them a challenge of writing a publishable book/short story and see how well they do? haha

      I always find myself mentally and even physically exhausted after long writing jaunts.

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  2. Fortunately most of my family understands that it requires a lot of effort.
    My first book took the longest. Eighteen plus months of writing and editing, eight months of shopping it around. Now I can write and edit a book in six to eight months - but it's still not easy!

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    1. You're very lucky, Alex! I wish my family could understand like yours does.

      I wish I could have a full book written and edited in 6-8 months! I'll be lucky to finish writing my sequel by January, which would make it one year.

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  3. It's funny--my post tomorrow is all about knowing your value as a writer, because I've had two such "devaluing" instances lately.

    I really don't understand what it is about writing that leads non-writers to think that it's easy. It may be easy to write, but it's not easy to finish a book, or to write a GOOD book, or get it published, whether you go through legacy publishers or do it yourself.

    There's a huge misconception out there that self-publishing is an "easy" answer. Ha! Yep, it's soooo easy being the writer, editor, distributer, marketer, cover designer, formatter....

    My friends and family are under no misconception that any of this is easy, but I have been asked "Why don't you just self-publish?" by friendly acquaintances. I just shake my head.

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    1. Great minds think alike, Holli. ;)

      I think you said it perfectly. I think they all view the act of writing as easy and figure everything else that it takes to write a book is easy, too.

      That's a good point! A lot of writers think self-publishing is faster and easier if they are unable to get an agent in a timely manner. But it takes a lot more to self-publish than to traditionally publish.

      I've also been asked that. Or my friends will ask, "Why don't you ask so-and-so how they got published?" They don't understand that what one writer does may not work for another.

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  4. Very true, Chrys...

    It is a TON of hard work. It took me three years to get my manuscript where I needed it to be and now searching for an agent is more time, stress, and anxiety. But that is what it is.

    Most of my friends realize how difficult it is and applaud that I have written two books, and illustrated the first as well.

    But you are also correct in voicing that agents would rather represent a published author and it's like chipping away at a twenty foot wall for an unpublished writer to get notice. BUT... it does happen with patience and perseverance.

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    1. It's the battle with agents that has been the hardest for me. I have a series written, and before I had any publishing credential, I couldn't get one to even ask to look at my manuscript. Well, I still haven't even after getting my ebook published because 1) it's only an ebook and 2) it's a short story. But I'll get there. Just like all writers who don't give up will. :)

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  5. This is so true and something I think I have been struggling internally with for a while now. I am not sure my family/friends really understand what is involved.It's only writing children's books afterall! I suspect they think I sit staring at my computer for hours thinking about unicorns and elves and the like - which I do obviously, but there is SO MUCH MORE TO IT than that! Thank goodness for my writer friends in blogland who understand the process. Let's all agree to not give up on our dreams.

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    1. I think we can all agree to do that. :D

      I'm glad, and a saddened, to see that I'm not the only one dealing with this problem. I know my family thinks I probably just lounge on the cough all day or sitting at my computer fooling around. If only they all knew what it really takes to write, publish, and promote a book. Even a children's book, which I think would be harder to promote.

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  6. Absolutely true, Chrys! First, my family is embarrassed that I write. They would rather I didn't write at all.

    I edited my book for months before sending it to the professional editor. Then I edited some more after that. Then I sent it back to complete. Last, I carefully read over for any last typos and even found a couple (after the professional had a second go through). This is where the PASSION comes in handy. If you don't have a passion for your subject then it will be easier to give up. Query letters I also sent and got rejections for various reasons. i.e. my "topic had been written about already" Seriously? It's all been done before...it's about doing it in a new way. This is when I knew I had to self pub. Then the cover design...!! I gave my manuscript to a couple of test readers. There was a ton of work involved but it didn't feel like work. It felt like a huge accomplishment in the end. I don't have to tell you that though. Sadly, family didn't understand the work I did and never have my parents once said "Good for you." No one in my family bought my book. My cousin and sister in law won't even LIKE my book page on facebook. Thanks for the share today as this is something we don't really talk about.

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    1. When I read that first sentence, I was shocked. But then it dawned on me that my family, or a few of my family members, may be embarrassed, too.

      You're right that every story idea has been done before, but if it's different I don't think it should matter if it's been written already.

      I am so sorry for your struggles. No one in my family (well, except for my brother's fiance) bought my ebook for $1.99. I thought one of my sisters did, but I don't know for sure because she hasn't read the 50 pages, but she did read all three 50 Shades books. My other sister only got Hurricane Crimes when it was free. Yup, free. She didn't even get it the two months it was out when it cost less than $2. This topic is something I am going to tackle again, soon, because it's actually one of my insecurities.

      I'm sending you a big HUG! Did you feel it? :D

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    2. Aw, thanks Chrys! Yes, nice hug back at ya! I hope I wasn't complaining too much :) Isn't it amazing that family can't understand that a simple ebook purchase would really be showing tremendous support? My boyfriends mother and sister each bought my book right upon release, which was very sweet and supportive. Again great post and lots of others writers here feel the same.

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    3. Oh no, not at all! I love hearing other writer's stories. My blog is a safe place to whine. ;)

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  7. Since I just write for myself I hope I understand!
    Seriously It must be hard to deal with those that are not supportive.

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  8. A lot think it is easy indeed, I can procrastinate a bit at my sea, but so far, writer's block has never hit me.

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    1. You're lucky to never had suffered writer's block.

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  9. I certainly think that not everyone "gets" it. Some people think that writing a book will make you an instant millionaire (ha!) or that somehow, we can send our book to Oprah, she will turn it into a movie, and you (and all of your relatives, of course) will be able to retire off all the money you'll make. They don't understand that most of writing is rewriting, facing fear, and picking yourself up (and believing in yourself again) after much rejection. It's not easy. That's why it's so important to have a network of writers in your life to encourage you.

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    1. I think a lot of writers also have those expectations. I did when I was little. haha I actually heard a quote from Oprah yesterday where she said "Don't even write a book unless it's 335 pages." I don't know what she said before that, but that kind of upset me because Hurricane Crimes is 50 pages long. It took a lot of effort to write, and just because it's short doesn't mean it doesn't offer the same things that a novel offers.

      I don't know what I would do without my writer friends, like you. :)

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  10. love that hawthorne so much I think i'll tweet it. & on your post, not many truly respect the "arts" or misunderstand or over use or simplify words like "creative".

    That said; to your point of what all goes into writing, particularly FICTION I'm speaking on, its really important to shut out the outside noise and perfect on the craft so we don't lose momentum, but rather gain it. Chrys, your blog content rocks.

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    1. I also love that Hawthorne quote.

      I agree completely. Thank you for your comment! :)

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  11. Chrys, you read my mind! I was actually going to write a blog post regarding this topic. I had an author visit today and one of the kids asked me whether or not being an author is hard. I was actually stumped and thrown back a little. For the first time during a presentation, I couldn't think of the right answer!! Only because being an author IS HARD but because it's hard, the work and determination that goes into it is worth it once our books are published.
    My biggest pet peeve is how most people think when we are writing, we are not really working... like being a writer or author isn't a real job. Are you kidding me?? Even my boyfriend, though I love him dearly, thinks I have all the time in the world to keep up with things around here like dinner and organizing and what not. He's VERY supportive and proud of me but there are times when I'm writing and he doesn't take my "work" seriously. Like I can stop blogging or writing an email because I have all the time in the world to get that kind of stuff done. But I wish he would understand that social media, keeping up with fellow bloggers and their blogs, doing author visits, sending emails and writing is all part of being an author.
    So it's one of the toughest jobs but at the same time, it's one of the BEST. I guess we have to take the good with the bad and vice versa.
    Absolutely loved this post! And I'm looking forward to checking out the link to your Query Letters Post.

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    1. Oh yes, I've definitely encountered the "writing isn't a real job" mentality. With my own family. With my own father. I plan on blogging about it in within the next couple of months.

      You're absolutely right! Blogging, social media, and emailing are all different parts of our job. Office workers and secretaries send a lot of emails as part of their jobs, so why is that when we send out emails people don't think we're working?

      I'm glad you liked this post, Gina. I'm trying to write more personal posts. :)

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  12. I'm writing in yoga pants and a T-shirt--have been all day. I'll probably sleep in this, too...it's so comfortable. So it's kinda like writing in my PJs! I do that all the time, by the way.

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    1. It's totally fine to write in PJs all day. :) I just wanted to make others see that just because writers work at home doesn't mean we all write in PJs. And even if we did, it doesn't mean we're being lazy.

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  13. I deal with this a lot, but not so much from family. My family knows me well enough to understand that I put 110% of everything I've got into a project once I get determined I'm going to do something. I just work hard at things by default, and they know my writing isn't any different.

    Strangers, however ... ugh! I get the, "That must be nice." a lot. I'm like, yeah, it's great pulling your ego apart at the seams over and over, dumping years of your life into something that can yield very few tangibly successful moments, and constantly having to explain what it is you do to people who really don't care.

    When people say, "I should write a book someday, too." it might be the single most insulting thing ever. Yes, all you need are a couple of quiet days away from the kids and your job, and you'll be a NYT bestseller ... BECAUSE IT'S THAT FRACKING EASY.

    Sorry, I get a little worked up with this topic. :)

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    1. Don't apologize. This is a touchy subject for most. Even me. And you described what we do and go through perfectly. I also get aggravated when I hear people say they should write a book someday, too or that they want to write. Especially when they are celebrities, because they always put their fingers in everything.

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  14. I've found writing does get easier the longer you do it. I'm going on 17 years now of practicing the craft and it surprised me out easy my last book was to write. That just means I'm ready for a new skill set, to try something new. I'm applying that with my next work and it's kicking my butt, but I love it. :)

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    1. I've been writing for 12 years, so I'm getting there. It's also all the other things that comes with writing a book that makes writing hard.

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  15. There are some books that have written me more than me writing them, but I still have to polish and edit them afterwards. My older books need the most intense editing and revising.

    I hate when people claim you're not a real writer if you haven't been published. My own father also recently insisted I'm not a historical writer, and won't be until I've actually started getting paid money for writing and publishing historicals. Um, yeah, I write historical fiction, I don't just pretend to! How am I not a real historical writer?

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    1. I hate that, too. And the sad thing is, I was convinced that was true. I used to be embarrassed to say I was a writer if I didn't have anything published.

      You definitely are a historical writer! Getting paid has nothing to do with it. Keep your chin up!

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  16. Honestly? I think they've seen how much time I put in and heard me rant enough, my loved ones are pretty aware of what goes into the process...except for the emotional end. That's reserved just for us, right?

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    1. That's great, Crystal! I wish my loved ones knew more have what I have to do.

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  17. I write in anything comfortable...as I don't get the chance to change out of it! Great post.

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  18. I don't think my family (meaning my husband and his sister) know how hard writing is, but they do know it's time consuming. My sis-in-law says she'll never write a book because there's too much technical stuff about what makes good writing. My husband...well...he says I make it look easy.

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    1. There sure is a lot of technical stuff behind good writing. And I do think you make it look easy. ;)

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  19. This is why writers MUST talk to other writers. They can't explain what they're going through to those who don't write. With writers there's no explanation necessary. We get it.


    Writing is easy for those who don't do it.

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    1. You're absolutely right, Clee! And I think your last sentence says it perfectly. Writing is easy for those who don't do it.

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  20. Oh my goodness, this post is awesome! I think it's finally dawned on my spouse that what I do is hard (after being married 12 years, all of which I've been actively writing). The rest of my family? I swear they think I'm just nuts. But, even with all the work, I kind of love it (well, except for the rejection letters...I'm not that much of a masochist!).

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you like this post, Meradeth! My family probably thinks I'm nuts, too. I know my sisters think that. lol

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  21. I kept nodding my head emphatically throughout this whole post. I agree, I agree, and I just keep agreeing :) I'd say my loved ones don't GET it. They don't necessarily think it's easy, but they have absolutely no idea what goes into it.When I start telling them, they're shocked.

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    1. I'm thrilled about the response I've received from fellow writers on this post, Liz. I was hoping everyone would agree. :) Maybe I should make a list of all the things I do and pass them out to my loved ones. ;)

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  22. Nice write-up! Being able to write creatively is something not all of us are capable of. Count yourself blessed because you have a talent. Getting into the mood in writing does not have a set of rules to follow. ‘To each his own’ is what people say; however, a list of suggestions wouldn’t hurt.mood in writing

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    1. I do count myself blessed. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have this writing talent. It is my life. "To each his own" is right!

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  23. I think my family knows it's difficult but they probably don't understand how difficult it is. They see me spending a lot of time online, reading and commenting on blogs, and reading articles and think that's probably all I do. LoL.

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    1. My family probably thinks that's all I do, too.

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  24. I think my family mostly understands how hard it is - probably because I complain about it so much! :-) But even though they know it's not easy breezy, I don't think they truly understand how emotionally hard it is, too. I think that's the type of thing only fellow artists get.

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    1. I agree that only a writer knows the emotional side of writing.

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  25. This post resonated so much! My (self-) published novel has been 7 years in gestation, and I'm posting sporadically on the work that goes into just the publishing end of the process. The bit where everyone assumes you "just upload the file to Amazon and hit 'Publish'". If only they knew!

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    1. I wish they did know. Everyone thinks self-publishing is the easy way to get published, but it's not which is why I haven't tried it yet. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  26. So much this. It does annoy me when some writers act like writing is this easy, natural-born thing. It's hard! No sane person would ever do it ;)

    But I must say the pyjama thing is true for me. Just not the blissful, words flowing productivity.

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    1. Oh, I know a lot of writers wear pajamas. It's just that everyone automatically assumes every writer does this. I actually make a point out of dressing for the day, even when I don't go anywhere. :)

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  27. I don't talk about my writing to just anybody, simply because non-writers will NEVER understand what it entails. There are certain family members and friends who are not even aware that I write.
    It's best that way. I hope it doesn't sound selfish, but I just don't have the energy to try and explain it anyway.
    Trying to explain it to non-writers.... it just goes over their heads. Only a writer will understand the ins-and-outs of the game.
    Great post!
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Outside of my parents, brother and sisters, I don't think the rest of my family is aware that I'm a writer, or that I've been published. I don't mind though because we aren't really close and I'd feel like they'd be judging me if they knew.

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