How to be a Real Writer (Spoilers: You Are One Already)

There’s a whole bunch of Writing Advice out there. Like too much. It’s really overwhelming at times. A new writer could drown in it, if not given a Good Advice vs Bad Advice life preserver. When I was trying to figure out what the hell I was doing with my writing (still am) and trying to navigate the terrifyingly choppy waters of publishing (still am) I followed a lot of White Rabbits down a lot of White Rabbit Holes. There was a lot of Writing Advice down it those holes. I drank some and I ate some. Some was good and some was bad.

A good deal of it was bad.

Some very bad, as if Voldemort and Maleficent had a child and instead of becoming a Evil Wizard Queen that kid decided to use their wicked lineage to start an Evil Writing Advice Blog to lead astray burgeoning writers. This life choice would be disappointingly diabolical to that kid’s parents, I’m sure, but still very dangerous to writers who might stumble upon that blog. A White Rabbit leading them down into a dark tunnel that never ends.

Evil Laugh

I read many the Malemort Writing Advice Blog in my day, filled with the type of advice that I would look back on now and be baffled that anyone would take it seriously. But much of this advice was spouted by Real Writers, ones who had Made It and needed to tell you how to Make It too. I hope most up and coming writers will do their proper research, and eventually see these kinds of blog for what they really. Some of that advice is is really damaging, but that damage can be mended.

Today, however, I would like to discuss one type of truly horrible and destructive Writing Advice that I still see propagated from time to time in my Twitter feed and it makes me SMDH every time.

“To be a Writer you have to write every day.”

Angry Tom

This is the single most damaging piece Writing Advice I have ever encountered. It’s not like bad advice on how to format your query letter, or an arbitrary number of Twitter followers you need to have to get an agent’s attention or any other such nonsense. Not only is the “Write Every Day” advice wrong, it’s actively harmful to people struggling to find their identity as a writer.

Putting in the words is hard. We all have other commitments that take time away from the writing. Especially when you’re just starting out and trying to find that balance between your writing time and the rest of your life. This advice put even more pressure an already difficult task. There is a lot of stress that goes along with this work. Pressure to finish a book. Pressure to find an agent. Pressure to get published. Pressure to be a bestseller. It doesn’t end. If you don’t put the words in everyday, you’re just a wannabe. Unless you write every damned day, you’re a phony. A fraud.

You are not a Writer.  

Fellow Scribe Kristin McFarland wrote a fantastic post about Evangelion and Identity last week. It’s difficult for a new writer to find their identity as a Writer. Impostor Syndrome is one of the hardest things to overcome. We’ve all suffered it, and we surely will again. The fact this advice might strip away the identity of someone as a Writer, just because of some arbitrary measurement of progress or achievement is heartbreaking to me. It’s unfair. It’s wrong. 

Sad Asuka

Self care is one of the most important aspects of being a writer. I’ve learned this over the years. Burnout, sacrificing sleep and personal time in the name of  forcing yourself to write, even though you just can’t, will turn you against the work. It will make you hate it. You know what’s going to make you Not A Writer faster that not writing every day? Not writing every day or ever again because you burnt yourself out and hate writing now.

So, my friends, I want you to repeat after me:

You are a Writer

Still plodding slowly but surely through that first manuscript that somehow is already 150,000 words long and is only three quarters of the way done?

You are a Writer.

Putting the finishing touches on that Poe/Finn Bromance turned Romance fanfiction you’ve been working on since The Force Awakens came out?

You are a Writer.

Working on the next manuscript while you’re out on submission, furiously rechecking your inbox every five minutes and freaking out every time your phone vibrates?

You are a Writer.

Doing final edits on the last volume of your huge, New York Times Bestselling YA Dystopian Werewolf Romance Epic with a movie option starring Ariana Grande?  

You are a Writer.

So go forth and write, you beautiful goddamn Writer.

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