So You Think You Can…Writer? (Part 2)

I wrote an article a couple of weeks back telling people that the act of writing doesn’t make one a writer. There were waves. There were angry emails. There was a barrage of supportive private messages. It seems everyone had an opinion on what it takes to be a writer.

GOOD!

So, in the wake of the conversation, I’m going to write another article on what it takes to be a writer.

1) For details, read the previous article here.

2) Never let criticism deter you.

If you’re the type of person who lets every bad word slung in your direction send you to bed crying, honey, writing isn’t for you.

Let’s go over a few things as explanation.

1) Your family and friends LOOOOOOOVE your writing! Well. La-dee-freaking-dah. That isn’t good enough. Have you had someone who loves you, truly loves you, tell you they hate it? If they did, how did you take it?

Being a writer is hard. Like with any art, it’s an extension of your soul. You offer it up willing and say “Here world, shit all over my very life’s blood because no matter what you say and do I’m going to keep writing.” Because that is what you do if you are really a writer.

People gonna hate. That should really read “People gonna hate you.” But it can’t be a deterrent. To be a writer, you have to have the pathological obsession with 1) words, 2) the very act of writing, and 3) the need to shove it in other peoples’ faces what you’re doing.

2)  I write for me and no one else. Well. La-dee-freaking-dah. I hear this one a lot. You know what? I write for me too. I am the audience when I sit down and write a poem, a short story, a novel. I aim to please myself first and foremost with the story. I also know, however, that deep down there is someone I want to reach out to with that piece of writing. It doesn’t matter what size the intended audience is, if there is any audience then #3 applies to you.

As with #1, the obsession with words is also a writer’s way of saying “Aren’t I clever?” Whether we’re a simple or bloated writer, we love finely crafted words. We’re the ones who jot down (or simply underline within the text) a beautiful phrase we read somewhere. We’re the ones who spend an hour writing, revising, and rewriting one five-word sentence.

#2? I covered that a bit in the previous article. If you don’t physically, emotionally, and mentally want to sit down and write; if it doesn’t give you a little thrill that you are about to create a world that didn’t exist until right then; if writing is nothing but pure torture without any physical, emotional, or mental satisfaction derived and you’re only waiting to type THE END so you can be published, this profession isn’t for you.

Yes I anticipate receiving more messages and email after this article. Yes I expect some of it to be belligerent, asking me who the hell I think I am. I say bring it. Because I am a writer. I welcome criticism, or else I wouldn’t be a writer. What I want others to ask themselves is if they think they are truly writers? Is it in their bones?

So, I want to know, do you still think you can writer?

  BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple   short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in
 the book of ‘How To Be An Author.’ She now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light

Upcoming: Karaoke Jane (2016)

So You Think You Can…Writer?

There’s an idea rattling around in that brain of yours. You have a laptop. You have an urge to write the next best novel. You, are a writer. Right?

Wrong.

All of these things are things writers should have, important and definitely big factors of what one needs to write, but they aren’t what a person needs to be a writer. 

At eight, I handed a thirty-page handwritten “novel” to my mother and declared my intent to be a writer. My mother, always very direct and honest, even with  budding youth, smiled and looked over the scrawled pages. Then, clearly, she said, “I always wondered which one of my girls was a masochist.”

Of course she had to explain what a masochist was since, at eight, my vocabulary was good but not that impressive. What my mother was trying to tell me was that, to be a writer, one needed a thick hide, a stubborn head, and desire to plod on despite critics and naysayers.

Face it. To be a writer, to really be a writer, one has to have an absolute obsession with putting words on paper. It has little to nothing to do with writing “the next American novel” or “getting rich and famous.” 


Being good with words isn’t the same thing either. It’s easy enough to write a well constructed sentence, paragraph, or even book. It’s what comes after you string those words together that makes a person a writer. 

Even the exceptional writer has detractors. At best, they write a 1 or 2 star review on Amazon or any number of book review sites about why they dislike a particular read. At worst, they rip to shreds the body of work you spent the last umpteenth months pouring your blood, sweat, and – oh, yes – tears into. 

A writer has to have the pure, blinding, maddening obsession of putting words on paper to keep them going. They have to be able to take the abuse, the tear down, of people coming after a piece of their very soul.

At a recent writer’s conference I attended in Scottsdale, Ariz., compliments of Desert Rose RWA, I had the privilege of lunching with several well known authors and several aspiring writers. When one man mentioned how hard writing was for him, how it was a struggle to sit down and write, one of the author’s asked him why he continued. He said he had a book in him and wanted to write it.

“Give up now,” she said. “You’re not cut out to be a writer.”

Harsh? Maybe. True? Definitely. After speaking with this man at length, everyone at the table got to hear how much he dreaded sitting down to write, how he was just waiting until it was finished so he could “get to the published” part.

“Quit now,” she said. “If your obsession isn’t to sit down and write, if the writing is only getting done so you can ‘be published,’ then this isn’t for you.” She went on to say she didn’t want to dissuade anyone from being a writer, but she’d been at this game long enough to not sugar coat what she saw – he just wasn’t meant to be a writer.

I didn’t disagree with her. Writing, needing to put words on page, to tell a story, has to be the end all, be all for going through the daily torture of being a writer. Because that is what it is – torture. Few other professions, or passions, require a person to inflict as much daily torture on themselves as being a writer. 

Once you’d struggled through the self doubt, the elation, the exhausting torment of waking frantically out of sound sleep, pouring words onto paper, only to stumble back to bad for an hour of sleep before going to your day job, plodding through the rigmarole of daily work so you can get back to your real love, there’s the editing. An editor ripping apart everything you’d just poured your heart into for months, or even years, building, bleeding, is excruciating. Then it’s on to beta readers who do the same – love, hate, indifferent (and the later can be just as bad as someone hating the story, trust me). Finally it’s off to the public, who have the opportunity to hate, love, or not care – only they get to do it on a very public, and very heartbreaking scale.

No, writers don’t just write. They write because, despite the pain and hardship and difficulty of doing do, they simply must write. Because, despite the torture, they love every minute of it.

So… you think you can writer?

                                                         BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple                                                            short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in

the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate other writers through humor and simple instruction.


Upcoming: Karaoke Jane (2016)