Friday, January 23, 2015

The problems of a writer


Most people think that a writer’s life is easy. That story ideas just pop into our minds, that characters constantly whisper their stories in our ears and that plot points just slip into our minds and all that we writers do is jot down these conversations and voila we have a story to submit.
These people have never heard of making notes on settings, created character traits, written down the plot points or created a vile villain. Nor have these people worked on voice and story arc.

One thing that always amazes me is that people think we writers can write anytime. I will explain. An aunt of mine invited my mom to spend the day with her, she asked me to join them. I excused myself saying I had to write. “Oh, you can write any time,” she said. These people are under the misguided impression that writing does not need time or effort.

I wanted to tell her how did she expect me to write after spending a day in her company, gathering gossip about the entire town. If I had accepted her invitation, my entire day would have gone down the drain. It’s not that I am averse to spending the day out (I go out a lot with my friends and family) but it’s only for a few hours, a quick lunch and a movie or a long lunch. And I always make it a point to write before I leave so that I have done some word count for the day.

A friend had heard that a writer took four years to write her 396 page novel. “So long,” my friend said. “Did she write one paragraph a day?!” Yes, it takes some writers such a long time. Most people forget the fact that the book went on to win the Booker Prize.

And another thing people don’t understand is that it takes us writers such a long time to get our books published. They think all that we writers do is write a story and submit. And publishers and agents all over the world are just waiting for our manuscripts. And that next morning we are having breakfast waving our six figure cheque in air and the week after that we are sitting in our bean bags reading our published books.

Honestly, some people never understand or even try to understand what a writer’s or for that matter what any creative person’s life is all about. Have you all encountered such people? What is the silliest thing a person has asked you or assumed about you?

P.S. My next post will be the IWSG post on Wednesday, 4th February. I need this time to meet a deadline for one of my books. Till then Happy Writing.

17 comments:

  1. Generally, people who lead 'easy' lives, think all others also live 'easy' lives.

    Destination Infinity

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  2. It wasn't the one paragraph a day - it was the hundreds of edits that probably consumed most of those years. Yeah, they just don't understand the time involved.
    See you next month! I understand - you need to write.

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  3. Forget about writing a book, even writing a blog post needs a lot of effort, provided you are writing a quality post. I was writing a 450 words motivation letter earlier last year and dang, it took me nearly 4 months. I wrote everyday, had to revisit it time and again until it was worth reading. Writing, i'd say is the most tedious job. You have to wreck your brain & that means 40% of your energy is utilized which is supppsosedly used by the brain.

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  4. I really haven't run into many people who think writing is easy. The people I encounter are pretty encouraging, and when something breaks for me, say things like, "I know how hard you've worked for this." Hmm. That could have a lot to do with how many rejections they've heard about. :-)

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  5. So agree with you on how long it takes. When I was editing a manuscript for the umteenth time, my mom said, How many times are you going to edit this? She didn't understand how much work it takes to make your manuscript perfect.

    Good luck with your deadline.

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  6. Oh, Rachna, keep on writing! (((hugs)))

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  7. I've encountered some of this. I don't like to discuss writing with non-writers. I also say no to events because I know how I operate best. If I have a deadline, I meet it. If I'm in the flow of a draft, I don't want to leave it.

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  8. Oh this is so so true! I've been writing for ten years and finally have my first novel coming out. It's work, hard work and many people don't take us seriously.

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  9. Setting aside the time is one thing; calling up the right words in that time set aside is another. Not easy. Thanks for saying it here.

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  10. I hate it that many people think the writer's life is easy. It makes me want to list all the ways that it's not easy. haha I can't write when I'm sick or if something disturbs me like a fight, stress, or a move...something along those lines. Even when I want to write, sometimes I can't write. Many people also forget that it's not just about writing the book, but also editing it. That takes a long time!

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  11. This is so true. No one who hasn't tried to write can possibly understand.

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  12. You were better off taking the day to write.

    Not the silliest thing ever asked, but when at book signings, people always start in about the book they've always wanted to write. In detail. If you want to write it, then do it already!

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  13. Funny but I had that impression too when I started writing. About the publishers all waiting for new books to publish and that next month I will be having breakfast with Spielberg, discussing how to turn my story into a movie. Tough when I learned the truth.

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  14. I don't think that attitude of "what I do is hard, what you do is easy" is only aimed at writers. People tend to elevate themselves and push down others, even if only gently, just to feel better about themselves. We all do it to comfort ourselves, i think. Imagine how the opposite would feel, if you considered others to be doing difficult work requiring great talent and perseverance while what you did was trivial and easy.

    Mind you, i'm just speculating. Who knows the working of the human brain?

    mood

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  15. You're so right. Writers work really hard to make it look easy. That's why we always need writer friends.

    (But for the record, sometimes that idle gossip is holding some plot gems- it is true that reality can be more bizarre than fiction!)

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  16. Even worse, with my freelance writing, I have deadlines and clients who rely on me and people REALLY don't get it. They just don't understand what I could possibly due that can't be put off, since I don't work set office hours.

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  17. Lol, that's funny. I never heard some of those misconceptions before, but I suppose some folks do actually think that way. Usually, I hear people talk of writing like it's a get rich quick scheme...as though _art_ wasn't the main motivator for us!

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