Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Many Writing Illusions Shattered

When we  write that first word or key it in, plenty of writing illusions surround us. Illusions that paint a false picture of a writer’s life and  make others rush in and embrace a scribbler’s life. People have these rosy pictures of a writer’s life: manuscripts being accepted  by the first publishing house its shopped to, there are visions of  writers  signing glossy copies, agents at  their  beck and call, editors gushing over them,  fat cheques, reviewers praising them and readers buying the books the moment they reach the bookshelves.

Once someone enters into the writing career every illusion is shattered into tiny pieces. Here are few:

  1. Writing is Easy. It’s anything but easy. Anybody who believes that, has definitely  not struggled with  troublesome characters, tricky knots in plots, hard character  growths  and  truant muses. They have not stared at blank pages and screens for  long  periods of time, nor have they struggled with several edits and laboured over  rewrites.

  1. Getting a book Published is not Difficult.  People who think like that do not  belong to the publishing world. Getting a book published is more difficult than actually writing it. Manuscripts sit in the slush pile, agents are more elusive than a rainbow and editors are highly choosy about the manuscripts they  accept. Even after a manuscript is accepted there are the harsh edits  to wade through.

  1. Writing can be a career option by itself. This is the  worst  illusion. People who think like that have not set their eyes upon  a writer’s royalty or advance cheques. Bills cannot be paid through the income one makes  from one’s book/s unless the  book wins a big prize or sells a million copies or is made into a movie. Most  writers have a day job and writing is relegated to the free hours or restricted to the late night hours.

  1. Once a book is out, the next one is accepted faster. This is another illusion that needs to be broken. Unless the second  book is a part of a  series, its not easy to get it published if the first one was a stand alone book. With every book a writer must prove herself and the story must catch the editor’s  and agent’s eye.

  1. Writers live a glamorous life. We wish. Most people think we writers live a glamorous life, where agents and editors are standing outside our doors waiting for our completed manuscripts, where people are hanging onto our words. If only. Writing is absolutely unglamorous. If  people could see us typing furiously or scribbling hard, the mess constantly surrounding us, the irritated expression on our faces at the thousand and one distractions we have to battle, and the hundred  things vying for  our attention, they would  surely  think differently. Most people have not witnessed the tormented expressions on our faces when we deal with tantrum throwing characters and  unruly muses.
I know I have been guilty of shattering the illusions a newbie writer has of a writer's life, perhaps I have even marred him or her for life, but, I am sure being forewarned is nothing short of a blessing. I am just bringing them face to face with reality. Have you seen any of your writing illusions being shattered? Did you have any illusion when you started this journey? Please share them with us.


  1. Ah...completely agree with all of these. I get so frustrated that people think writing is easy. I used to try to prove them wrong but it's just a waste of time and frankly, it doesn't matter if they feel that way. The only people who understand are the ones doing it. I do wish that we could combat these misconceptions. Great post!

  2. I have to also agree. Becoming a writer is not an easy option; it takes years of dedication, learning the craft, and sometimes good old fashioned luck.

    Excellent post!

  3. Yes. All illusions. I've lived a very long life. I know!!

    But writers are the most optimistic people on the planet. They write, and write--and keep hoping that one day they'll get that "magical" acceptance. And luck does, as Ellie says, play its part!
    Ann Best, Author @ Long Journey Home

  4. I was at one of our usual hospital visits with Christopher and had my laptop with me. I was writing away when my hubby noticed a man looking at me. Hubby told the man I was a writer and the guy said, "I am going to write a book. I guess it will take a couple of weeks. I know a publisher will just have to buy it." Hubby just nodded and we smiled at each other. If only the guy knew. Huh, Rachna?

    And you're right, very few writers live a glamorous life, though it does sound interesting, I'm content on our farm with all our animals. :) Holding my book in my hands is ll the glamor I need. *wink*

  5. No illusions whatsoever, Rachna, thankfully. Life had taking that away from me already. :0)

  6. I didn't have any illusions heading into the writing life. You're right, it is work! This is a good realistic view. Those who head into it need to count the cost first, just like in any other profession.

  7. I might just take notes and distribute this at the next family gathering. I'm not sure why people buy into these myths. I'm glad writers are in the know. ;)

  8. Rachna, you are such a dear one; I don't think you could shatter anyone's illusions (in a mean way, anyway).

    I always leave this (group) in a happier mood. :)

    Thank you!!

  9. Yes, yes, and yes. A great post. I just with they weren't all illusions!

  10. I have to agree with everything you listed!

    Great post.

  11. I have to disagree with your last point. Writing is the most glamorous profession there is in the entire world. Getting to stay in my pajamas all day and "pretend" to work is the best thing ever! Everyone wants to be a writer ;)

    but seriously, great points. It's good to break those crazy myths.

  12. How I wish these things were true...!

  13. Hi Friends...I am enjoying reading everyone's comments. My writing illusions were shattered big time. Its neither easy to write a book nor get it published.

    @ Saumya..I too am frustrated when I have to explain to people that writing is not easy.

    @ Ellie.. completely agree that luck plays a huge role.

    @ Ann..we writers are indeed an optimistic lot. We believe that we must keep writing inspite of all the obstacles.

    @ Robyn.. wish that man you met in the hospital would read this post.

    @ Carole and Karen ...having no illusions makes you two, very lucky women. You know exactly what you are in for: the hard work and the long road ahead.

    @ Tana... you will be doing me a big favor if you distribute this, not just at your family gathering, but to everyone who believes we live an easy life.

    @ Cheryl.. glad my posts make you happy.

    @ Lydia and The Golden Eagle ...if only these were not illusions. Sigh.

    @ Lynda...can just visualize you looking absolutely glamorous in your pajamas. ;)

    @ The Las Vegas Writer...I too wish these were not illusions.

  14. I did have most of these illusions when I started out. The one I’m still often surprised by is ‘Once a book is out, the next one is accepted faster.’ I really thought that would be true but several published friends have assured me otherwise.

  15. Excellent blog as usual, Rachna. I shall put it on my Facebook! :)

  16. I think I used to think #4 was real--if I wrote one good book, they would want the next one and now from friends sharing their journey, I see that isn't so easy.