I've been spending some time hanging around writing subreddits on Reddit, and I've seen a pattern of people who like the idea of writing but don't actually want to write. They have this vision in their head of what being a writer is like, but they're so, so wrong.
So here are the hard truths about a career in writing:
- You have to write. More than anything else, you have to put your butt in a chair and write. When you hate it, when the words won't come. When your kid is screaming and your fingers feel like they're going to fall off, you have to write.
- Writing is not a path to riches. End of story. If money is what you want, get a tech job.
- The only best time to write is now. Later is never better. Now is always the right time.
- Traditional publishing is SLOW. Very slow. You just have to get used to this.
- If you've sent out 200 query letters to agents and have gotten 200 rejections, your book needs more work or you need to write a different book. Sometimes agents are wrong. Sometimes a large chunk of them are wrong. But they're never all wrong. If your book is great, the right agent will snatch it up.
- Writing advice is only as good as you make it.
- You have to read. You have to read almost as much as you write.
- There is no pen, writing program, computer, chair, office, state, house, or view that will make you a better writer. It's nice to have a great spot to write, but sometimes you just have to do it at the back of a McDonalds while avoiding flying french fries.
- Facebook is your enemy. So are Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Goodreads, and Pininterest. In fact, just kill your internet connection.
- Writing one good book doesn't guarantee you'll write a second. You have to write every book like it's the best and last book you'll ever write.
- Selling one book doesn't mean you'll sell a second or a third or a fourth.
- You can write for money, but you'll probably hate it.
- You have to write.