Sunday, June 27, 2010

From MISconception To PERCEPTION

This post is for Monday but I'm posting early because it's been running around in my head for awhile.

Hello Everybody,

An interesting subject came up when I was reading a blog (unrelated to writing, but a topic I'm interested in). The question of women being mothers and career women came up and I happened to mention I was a writer. The person I was talking to through the comments said that I was "doing it all"; but other things she said reminded me of the misconceptions people have about writers. The ideas I had when I was a teenager, before I got to really educating myself on the writing and publishing world.

This big misconception is that we writers don't have to spend as much time as other career-paths or even full time students on what we do. That at the very least it's a hobby sort of drive at the very most it's a few hours a day.

Well, I'm here to blast that myth into oblivion.

Okay, maybe not all writers are spending 8-10 hours a day 7 days a week on their craft, but even if they aren't, if they're serious about writing and publishing they're spending almost that amount just THINKING about it.

People don't realize that our ideas aren't always lightning flashes. Sometimes they're a gradual process--a spark of an idea, but then the slow, fleshing out of characters, the organization, the developing plot lines and subplots. It's a real process. (Depending on how you write this could take a few hours to several days).

To illustrate my point let's take an artist (since writing is something of an art form)

An artist has a concept in mind, then sits in front of his or her canvass and begins to outline this concept, slow, deliberate strokes of the pencil, pen or brush, then the gradual adding of details, and in some cases, this process taking weeks or months to fully polish.

This is a writer. The furious scribbling (or typing) and the weeks of editing, agonizing, revising, and learning and acquainting with one's characters, until, months (or even years) later the story is polished and ready for an agent or publisher's eyes.

Just a few hours a day, right? WRONG!

The constant thinking and (even in some cases, dreaming) about the story. Take time.

Of course, if the writer is really serious about his or her craft there's the amount of time reading up on the writing and publishing field. (Books, blogs, articles, classes, conferences, workshops--online and offline, meetings, critique partners, brainstorming).

It really is a full-time process. The thing about it is, is that a writer has to learn to prioritize:  family, unavoidable needs (such as eating and going to the bathroom), other responsibilities and writing. A writer can often delegate a certain amount of time for each thing (much like a college student figuring out his or her schedule, like taking a 3 hour class every Tuesday and Thursday or spreading it out an hour a day over the course of 3 days or something to that effect).

Some writers do put in 8 hours Monday through Friday. Some longer, some less. Depending on who they are, what they write and how serious they are about it.

The point is, the misconception that it's just about sitting down typing (or writing) out a story and then a few hours of editing is unrealistic.

I don't blame people for having this misconception. It's totally understandable. The writing world is something of a mystery for those who aren't deeply engrossed or entrenched in it. It's vast, changing, and full of different rules and expectations than most anything else. It's got some eccentric characters (for example, Lewis Carrol's Alice In Wonderland) and even things people don't even know about (like the several cups of coffee a writer might consume while desperately trying to finish a project).

It's about passion. It's about loving what one does. It's about putting one's heart and soul, mind and self into it.

But it is a real job. It's a full time endeavor, no matter how a writer chooses to split up that full time, it still takes a lot of time and energy. A writer may not be always putting in 8 hours a day of pure writing or editing, but a writer is always doing something to do with the writing world--whether it's helping critique another writer's work, helping out with a conference or a contest, or even just updating one's blog, a writer is always working--writing--imagining, or supposing one way or another. It just might not always be so obvious to the outside world.

Have A Meritorious Monday!


Ciara Gold said...

Excellent post and well said. I just took the survey that RWA had on what makes a published author. And some of the questions they asked dealt with just what you've said eloquently here.

Bethany said...


Thanks! I appreciate you coming by. I've looked at some of the posts about your trip on your blog. Looks like you're having fun! I really do hope to meet you face to face at NWHRWA one of these days!