Thursday, July 7, 2016

Writing: It's a Piece of Cake

I don't know how many times I've heard non-writers say how easy it is to write. Some say we sit at home on our butts all day. Well, yes, I do write from home, and that does, in fact, involve a lot of sitting on my butt.

"Writing is easy. Anyone can do it." Well, I somewhat agree. The millions and millions of books on Amazon are proof of that. The act of writing is easy and anyone who has a computer, or even a pen and piece of paper, can do it. However, writing something people will want to read isn't so easy. It's the difference between making a box of brownies, which takes no skill at all, or as complicated as a whipping up a fresh-baked eclair. Just because I can make a mean box of brownies doesn't make me a master baker.

The reason I'm writing this post is to explain that I, as well as a lot of other writers, don't simply sit on our butts doing nothing all day, which I feel a lot of people assume if you're a big-name author. Aside from writing my tenth novel, I also have marketing to do; social pages to maintain and keep going, messages to answer and send, promotions to handle, and readers to (somehow) keep engaged until my next book release. Not only that, but I also have to stalk research agents and write query letters *said with loathing hostility* for those who I think might be a fit for me and my work. And did I mention the book events, both online and in person, I have to plan for and attend? There's always something I need to do. Even when I'm relaxing, I'm working, writing the next chapter in my head.

Writing, for me, isn't just a hobby, it's my career, which I work very hard to maintain and try to build. Unlike some jobs, my success and salary doesn't rely on my boss or my co-workers; it relies solely on me. If I fail, there's no one to blame but myself. If I don't work hard, I don't get paid.

Writing isn't just about writing; it's a business. 

Am I complaining? Not at all. I'm beyond blessed to be able to work from home doing something I love. However, the fact that I do work from home, or spend that time 'making up stories', doesn't mean I don't do anything all day.  

First off, writing isn't simply about sitting down and making crap up. One has to do research, make an outline, or at least a list of characters and scenes, locations, that sort of thing. Once that's done, the story has to be planned out. Once all the prep-work is put in, that's when the actual writing begins. However, even that is a process, since it doesn't always happen as freely as I'd like. For instance, I recently wrote and deleted the ending to my last manuscript, Your Worst Fears, not once, but four times. (Four times!) Deleting chapters is painful. I'm not only deleting words when I do that; I'm causing all the time spent on those chapters to be wasted. Ugh! 

Once the story is finally finished, the editing begins, which is a time consuming process, but is detrimental in the success of any book. During this time of transition, I'll start on formatting and cover design, which I usually do myself. These two things, alone, are enough to make any sane person rip their hair out.

What I'm getting at is that there's more that goes into writing than just sitting on our butts and playing on the computer. Like any other job, if I don't write and market what I write, and do both well, I don't make money. And the fact that I write from home doesn't mean I don't work. I don't have the usual 8:00-5:00 hours, but I do have hours--writers' hours, which may be day or night, depending on when inspiration hits me. There's been many nights when my husband ran me out of bed because the key tapping at midnight was driving him nuts.

I'm so thankful I was blessed with a vivid imagination and the ability to tell a story. I'm also thankful I can call myself a published writer, I just wish more people understood the process. Writing's not just typing words to make a sentence, putting them together to form paragraphs, which leads to a chapter, ultimately filling a book. It's a long, drawn out process that includes a lot of hours (sitting on my butt), hair pulling, growling (yes, I sometimes growl), worrying, and, when I'm lucky, celebrating when it's all over. If it didn't include all these things, then I'd know I wasn't doing it right.

Writing, for me, can be mentally exhausting and makes my eyes want to pop out, but I love every minute of it. Would I rather be a nurse, cop, or in the military? Heck no! Those are some of the toughest jobs there are, in my opinion. I'll gladly stick to writing stories that allow readers to get lost in another world for a small part of their day. Books, to me, are a gift--a free adventure I can go on at any given moment from wherever I happen to be--and I'm glad that I'm able to be a part of that.

So, when it's all said and done, is writing a piece of cake? Well, I guess that depends on your taste and pastry skills.

Until next time...