Chuck Wendig, the bearded writer guru and gnarly writer, published a great blog over on his kick ass blog Terrible Minds called ‘A Reminder Of What Makes A Real Writer’. In it he makes this very true point:
‘There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.
And that’s it.’
And it is..so why the hell writers struggle so much to own it? Why do we look to others to give it definition?
There’s a bit of heated conversation going on about whether having a degree gives you that tick of approval from society and peers, a magical That’ll do, little writer, that’ll do moment where you will suddenly be seen as the artist you are.
Yeah, sorry guys it’s not gonna happen.
A degree is great but when you graduate you still have to get a job and if you are lucky enough to get a job in say, publishing, (and these are few and far between, especially in Australia) you’re still going to be put on the same wage as someone working in retail. I recently saw a job for a publishing assistant where they wanted someone with a degree and minimum 2 years experience… for a wage I used to get in customer service. A degree might help you get a job but its not going to necessarily help give you writer validation.
My point is no one is ever going to give you the “I AM NOW A WRITER” moment and a degree, job in publishing, or a book out won’t always help either. I know this from experience. I’ve been writing full time for fifteen years and have written twelve books and it has only been in the past two months that I’ve been able to say ‘I am a writer’ when people ask what I do, not ‘I work as a contractor for the government…and I also write a bit.’ I had this moment not when any of my books came out, when I saw them on a shelf in a bookshop, not when people have been repeating it to me over and over again over the years. This moment came when I rang a recruiting company about a contract for content writing and the consultant I talked to said, “Your resume looks like an Administrator resume. You need to write it again and put all that experience you just told me about at the beginning.” And I had to sit down and really go through the process of spelling out all the experience I do have in black and white. At the end of it I was like, “Fuck me, I AM a writer.” I had been doing the job thing all wrong over the years believing I was an administrator and not a writer. I don’t think I am the only one out that does this to themselves.
I recently read a great book by indie powerhouse Joanna Penn called The Successful Author Mindset. In it she talks about having to use “I am a writer” as a kind of mantra until she believed it. She even starts the book straight up with self doubt and imposter syndrome because every author on earth feels it:
‘Embrace self doubt as part of the creative process. Be encouraged by the fact that virtually all other creatives, including your writing heroes, feel it too with every book they write.’
I personally don’t read a lot of self help for writers type books but I have huge respect for Joanna Penn and this book really helped me out to realign my brain in a time I needed it (Derek Murphy also gives really good advice for writers and his courses are fantastic and have helped me alot).
I still need to go back and read these chapters regularly because I’ve started writing a new book that scares the shit out of me. I’ve tackled some big ones before but this is next level for me. There is a lot of research involved and has the tingly potential to end up being the best thing I’ve ever written or a heaving pile of crap. Its terrifying and intimidating and its helping me grow and write in new ways. DO I think I have the talent to do it justice? Hell no. Am I going to do it anyway? Hell yes. Because that’s what makes us writers right? We give up our social lives and our rec time and we work unsatisfying jobs to pay bills while we hustle words and try and write the ones that scare us and helps us grow and maybe makes us money.
So what if were are anxious and insecure and feel like we are walking down the street naked every time we release words into the world that will judge us..we are writers its how we operate.
I am not going to be around too much in the next few weeks, I am going crazy full editor mode to get Eastern Gods, my new YA Fantasy book, all ready to pitch to Kindle Scout. The thought of releasing this one soon is pretty exciting as it was the first book I ever wrote that I was really proud of. It’s taken a lot of work to get it up to scratch and I’m stoked how it has come together. I’ll tell you guys more about it when I get closer to knowing dates and have a cover to share.
In other Amy book world news, Wylt is going well so check it out if you dig gothic romance, and Cry of the Firebird is on a price drop for those who want grittier, urban fantasy with lots of Gods and monsters.
Also, if you want something short, steampunky and based in an alternative Australia check out my new short story a Women in Men’s Waistcoats. It’s a lot of random fun.
Keep writing you crazy beautiful writers,