The following is more or less an actual conversation:
During a phone call one day, someone asked if I had done any writing. “No, I didn’t do any writing. But every day, I do something writing-related.”
“What do you mean writing-related?”
“Well, as a writer you have to do more than just write.”
“What do you mean you do more than write?”
“Hmmm, think of it this way, remember when you had to write a paper for a class project?”
“Okay, what did you have to do to complete the assignment?”
“Well, I had to understand the topic. I may have had to do some research. I had to make sure what I was saying was accurate. If it was something I made up, I still looked up stuff to make sure what I wrote was plausible. Sentences had to make sense, I always had to do some editing. Sometimes, I’d have someone else read it and give me feedback on it.”
“Okay, so you did all of that to write a paper for a school project?”
“Everything you just explained was writing-related. You just didn’t write it and that was it. There was so much more involved than just typing or handwriting. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah, it does. I never thought of it that way. There really is a lot to it.”
“Yes, you’re right and there’s even more to it than that.”
“What do you mean?”
“You said you’d sometimes have others read your work and give you feedback. In the writer’s world, that’s an editor or a Beta Reader and we may have to pay for that service. And even when everything is the way you want it, you need to promote it, right?”
“Yeah, if you want to get it published.”
“Exactly, so then a writer has to do a query letter. Well, first he has to learn how to do a query letter, so that means more research. Once the query letter is done, you send it out. They say ‘rejection is part of the process,’ so you may send out dozens of query letters before your work is accepted for review. The query letter gets you a literary agent and it’s the agent that finds you a publisher.”
“That seems like a lot. You could always self-publish.”
“You’re absolutely right. With self-publishing you don’t have to query to get a literary agent, but you do have to research the different self-publishing houses and the different packages they offer AND you have to pay out of pocket for it. And, even if you self-publish, you should still hire an editor and Beta Reader to make sure your writing makes sense and is as free from grammatical and editorial errors as possible.”
Silence on the other end of the phone.
“Does all of that make sense to you? That even if I’m not writing, I’m doing something writing-related?”
“Yeah, it does. I didn’t think it was that consuming. I think I’ll stick with my own job. It sounds easier than being a writer.”
“And, that’s not even getting into if you’re trying to find freelance writing jobs. You have to research sites, find those that would accept your type of writing, the type of articles you write, then put in a bid and hope you’re selected. Some sites only pay $0.03 per word for a 500-word article. That’s $15.00. How many articles would you have to write each day or each month to pay bills with that?”
“Okay, stop. I get the point. Writing-related. I got it.”
Laughter from my end of the phone.
I’d love to read your experiences of someone thinking being a writer was easy? That it didn’t take much effort … others wondering why you were always on the computer?
Have you had any similar discussions as the one above? If so, I’d love to read your comments and stories.
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(This article is cross-posted from dixonldeborah.com)