So tonight on Twitter, I started the #NonWritersSay hashtag because I was talking to some of my writer friends about that common experience we all share: being misunderstood by non-writers.
It’s something I see every day, especially in my tutoring job at Rowan University. I constantly hear students complain that they “hate writing” and how they never think they’ll be good writers. Then they trudge through the effort of writing a 3-4 page essay. When I tell them I wrote a novel and it’s 100,000 words long, they inevitably say things like, “How can you write so much?” or “Was it hard to write?” or “Is it any good?”
I hear the same things from other sources as well. Friends will ask me “Do you sell a lot of copies?” or “How much money does it make?” without realizing those questions are kind of awkward and they make me uncomfortable.
Or non-writers who don’t understand the process of writing and revision will ask me things like “Why does it take you so long?” or “Why do you need to revise so many times?” These are questions that pretty much every writer has to deal with, and sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to answer. You want to shake the person and say, “Because writing is HARD!” Writing is a lot of work. It’s a full time job. And for most of us, it’s a full time job that you have to do while working another full time job to pay the bills. But you keep on doing it, because you have goals.
Most non-writers I know don’t understand the time and effort it takes to plot out a novel, go through several drafts, get it critiqued, get it edited, and get it out there into the world. I know people who write on roleplaying sites as a hobby, churning out a couple of pages a week and never revising them. They casually mention how maybe they’d like to turn their roleplaying characters into a book someday. That’s not to say you can’t do that; my novel, Manifestation, stemmed from characters that started off as part of one of those roleplaying games. But turning them into a book takes a lot of dedication, hard work, sleepless nights, and stress.
Sometimes I feel like people who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, bankers… anything that isn’t an “art” field, don’t really understand. Art is hard, and it leaves you poor. I imagine painters, musicians, and sculptors often feel the same way we writers do. As if they have to pour everything they have into something they’re passionate about, only to accept that it might turn out to be a failure. So many books get written, only to be rejected by publishers. Or they get published (whether traditional or indie) and never become bestsellers. And that’s hard to deal with when you put years of your life into a project.
Which is why I’m glad I know so many other writers on Twitter. I love being able to talk to them about my writing, to share my experiences with them, and to know they go through the same thing. It’s therapeutic. It makes me feel like I’m not alone.
Though of course, there is one very important thing that #WritersShouldSay: “You should be writing!”
So I’m going to try to get off Twitter for a little while and get some work done. These novels aren’t going to write themselves.
and in ebook format through: