Writer Reality Check

Okay, if you are a fan of this blog, you know I am all about helping writers. Part of how I help is that you can count on me for the unvarnished truth. I know there are a lot of people who believe they want to be writers. Hey, rock on! The more the weirder…I meant merrier. Yes…merrier.

Where was I? Oh yeah.

But, I do feel that our profession tends to get glamorized, and hopeful writers aren’t aware of what to expect. So when something comes flying at them from left field, they are unprepared and watching fire ants roam over their tennis shoes instead of catching that giant hurdling ball headed straight for their head (Ooh! Just had a flashback. Did I mention that I sucked at sports?)

So before you make that New Year’s Resolution to become a writer, finish a novel, take your craft more seriously there are some things to consider. First, if you just enjoy writing for fun and merely want to finish a novel to test and see if you can do it, all that follows does not apply to you. But, if you happen to be among that group who dreams of landing an agent, being published and becoming a successful author, I am going to give you a run-down of what to expect so you don’t get caught unawares.


That most people will not take you seriously. If you are waiting for your friends and family to line up and pat you on the back and throw you a parade, you will be sorely disappointed. In fact, when they see how euphorically happy you are, just expect for them to assume your writing group is really a cult and stage an intervention. Likely they will call in experts who perform deprogramming for loved ones lost to devil worshippers, Scientology, or that new retread of the Branch Davidians in south Texas. So look out for any white panel vans, and never leave your drinks unattended. You could wake up in a dark room wrapped in blankets going through a “rebirthing” procedure where you come into this world wanting to be an engineer instead of a writer.

When people ask what you do, you need to tell them, “I am an author” or “I am a writer.” Even if you don’t have your book finished. This is going to sting. As long as you introduce yourself via your day job, that is what you are telling your subconscious that you want to be FOREVER. “I’m an administrative assistant.” Well, I hope you like that job because that statement is forming your identity. Don’t even try to cheat with “I am an aspiring writer.” Again, that is a subconscious cue, and twenty years later you will still be “aspiring.” Just go practice in the mirror and say a hundred times. “I am an author. I am an author.”

If you want others to shut up and stop mocking you, just tell them they better knock it off because there is a part for a cross-dressing hermaphrodite who dies in a tragic blow-up doll accident in your novel. Then they will likely play nice.

You are a professional writer. To quote the brilliant Yoda, “There is no try, only do.” Most people feel guilty saying they are a writer because they never write. In that case, you should feel guilty. Go nail your can to a chair and bust out at least a blog, you slacker. You are a writer, not an aspiring anything other than maybe an aspiring NY Times best-selling author. Then you have my permission to use the adjective aspiring. For all other times?

 Screw aspiring. Aspiring is for pansies. Takes guts to be a writer.

Yes, other people will titter and roll their eyes, but you won’t care. In the meantime, toughen up. You will need the skin of a rhino in this business. Do not look for outside approval. That is about as productive as looking for unicorns or Sasquatch.

To steal from the brilliant author Chuck Wendig, “Writing is not a parade of peppermint puppies.” It is work. So here are some other things to expect go with the job. Even professional authors cannot write eight hours a day. There are other important tasks that go with being an author that often will feel more like goofing off. Just have to get over it. I can spot writers who do not perform these routine duties, because their writing…um, sucks. Mine did too. I used to think doing these tasks was “wasting time.” My prose suffered. You know what real wasting time is? Writing crap. So to make your work better and better…

We need to read. This is essential. The best writers are avid readers. I read a fiction and a non-fiction a week. One best-selling novel (genre doesn’t matter) and one craft book. I walk around with my Nook in my purse. Standing in line at Target? Pick the long line and read five pages. Waiting at the doctor? The bank? Getting a pedicure? Make use of that time. Read. I read for 40 minutes on the elliptical at the gym. The Nook’s ability to have giant font keeps me from throwing up and falling off.

And I highly recommend using one the single greatest inventions of modern man…the Post-It Highlighter (not on your Nook/Kindle, but on the paper books).  

We need to watch a lot of movies. The editor’s mantra is Show. Don’t tell. How do you learn to do that? Study. Watch actors. How do they portray the vast spectrum of human motion? How do they portray characters? Study dialogue. Absorb speech patterns. Study structure. This is a faster method than reading. Study how the screenwriter raised the stakes. Why did the movie work? Why didn’t it? This isn’t as much a substitute for reading as it is an addition to reading. But we can watch movies with friends and family and yet still be “working.”

How did the director portray normal world? Darkest moment? Study endings. You get the idea. Few jobs can claim that spending the day watching movies is actually work. So enjoy.

We must blog. Blogging creates good habits, and it is in the job description of the 21st century author. We can gripe and moan all we want, but that doesn’t change reality. Reality is that writers with a platform are going to be more successful than writers who expect NY to do everything for them. If you want to become a professional writer then you should love writing anyway so this shouldn’t be as big of a deal as most writers make it. Suck it up and put on Big Girl/Big Boy Pants. In the coming weeks I will be teaching you guys on Wednesdays what to blog about. This is usually the biggest stumbling block, but now I am here so no more excuses. I am going to make this FUN!

We need to spend time on social media. This is like the watching movies and reading thing. Yes, being on social media is work. Now if we are just goofing off and sending people farm animals then yes we are goofing off. But if we are blogging and spending time on Twitter and FB networking with other writers and published authors and people in the publishing industry, that is called marketing.

Additionally, I have found some of the best articles and blogs on the craft via Twitter and other bloggers. Social media gives us countless tools to improve our skills daily.

We need to write. Eventually all of this boils down to what it is we do…we write. As I said earlier, we cannot always be writing and the writing part, while the most important, doesn’t take up the most time. Reading, planning, researching, outlining, editing, revising, marketing are all parts of the job, too. Yet, ultimately, we need to sit our keisters down and WRITE. Not rocket-science here.

We need to learn to employ tough love. I can tell you from experience that you will have to be tough with friends and family. They aren’t used to you having a second job. They will miss you being around all the time, and they will need to be retrained. And I am telling you now that they will not “get” you so don’t expect them to. Just be kind and consistent, and if they still don’t get the hint, invest in a caffeinated meth-addicted ferret to guard the door for you while you write.

Being a writer can be a lot of fun. Like I said, part of our job is to create and watch movies and read great stories, but it comes at a price. First, you will likely meet resistance, and might even be openly mocked. It may be a good idea to introduce your plans to your family in the following way:

“Hey, I sold all our worldly belongings, and the VW van will be here in the morning to take us to live at the Prophet’s commune in New Mexico. Your names are now Rainbow and Starchild. Ha ha ha ha, just kidding. Mommy wants to become a writer.”

Regardless how you break the news, it needs to be done.

Being a writer is tough work, but it is a whole lot of fun. What are some other things a writer should expect? Add your opinion. I could have made this list much longer, but I figured I would let you guys chime in. I love hearing from you.

Happy writing! Until next time…

Remember to tune in on Monday for more on the craft of writing. This Monday is Part SEVEN of my structure series. Have a computer full of half-finished novels? A solid understanding of structure will help. Write leaner, meaner and faster.

Also tune in on Wednesday for the next in my series to teach you guys how to blog in ways to build your author platform.

Now for the blatant self-promo. My book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media lays out a step-by-step plan that is:

  1. FREE—I appreciate that most writers are BROKE. Aside from the cost of the book, your home computer and Internet connection, every tactic in my book is completely FREE
  2. FAST—If you are super motivated, it will take you a day to build your platform’s foundation. This foundation will give you roots on the top social media sites and link them together to where they feed each other.
  3. EASY—I tested this book on my 60 year-old mother who was afraid she would delete the Internet if she hit the wrong button. She now rules Facebook. Befriend her at your peril.
  4. LOW MAINTENANCE—Aside from writing blogs, which I highly recommend that you blog, you can build and maintain a platform in less than a half hour a day. The way I teach you makes you work smarter, not harder. You have blogs and best-selling books to write!
  5. RECOMMENDED–I have built many successful platforms using the methods I teach in this book.  My book is recommended by literary agents.

Enter to win a FREE copy. Check out Author Susan Bischoff’s blog.


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  1. Thanks, Kristen. This post was a nice kick to start off my Friday/weekend (a time when my motivation usually seems to disappear, er…wane). “We need to watch a lot of movies” is an interesting idea, and an excellent point. I will now not feel so bad about my recent imbibing of the “Potter Marathon.” 😉 Happy weekend~


    So true … that’s why I’m beside myself that my ex and his wife are trying to sue me to stop my blog. Seems they don’t like my voice. Hmmm…

    Bring it — I’m a writer (“screw the aspiring part,” a brilliant blogger once said).

    GREAT post! 🙂

  3. These are all great points and have made me realize that I no longer wish to be a writer. Thank you for crushing all of my dreams in a single blog. Your discouraging words have definitely done what they were intended to do…discourage. Kudos to you and your discouraging ways. Now, if you would be kind enough to point me toward the exit so that I may go out into the world and attempt to find a new dream I would greatly appreciate it. 🙂 Ok…just kidding. Thank you for posting. I think this is all much needed information that will allow any potential writer to be better prepared for what is to come. 🙂


    1. LOL…hey, it isn’t for everyone. Thanks for the great laugh :D. Best of luck!

    2. It’s true how people take you for a laugh (or pay no regard) to an art you take up. It’s almost like they are thinking it’s for lack of something better to do – something that would fade/pass with time…
      Nice write.

      Well done!

  4. I read something similar to this from another writer’s blog as well, specifically the need to read. But I gave up FB last Sunday, and I think it makes me a better blogger, writer and reader. So far, so good. Nice post, and have a great weekend!

    1. i too gave up facebook a while back and i think it made become a way better blogger too. and i have time to actually blog.


      great read on this blog too.

  5. Congrats on Pressed, Kristen. I’m one of the many writers thanking your for the sound advice and insight that you’ve shared through your blog articles, and this post is just another example.

    Take care,

    Chase McFadden


    1. Wow! Thanks for letting me know :D.

  6. We need to put in the time. Writing, reading, social networking, and (fate be willing) finally becoming a Successful Published Author (whatever that may mean) takes a long time.

  7. Loved your post – it made me laugh and yet there was so much truth in it with your reminders to not only write but strive to write better!

    I’ve found that even if your family gets that you’re a writer, you’ve got the books behind you and you’re putting in the time, they don’t get that you actually have to work at it and they can’t phone every morning at 10:00 a.m..

    1. That’s true enough. My husband doesn’t think I write fast enough, as if I should have a finalized, perfected novel done every month. Yeah, not gonna happen unless I quit doing all the other things in life like my day job, quality family time, sleep… 🙂 At least he supports my dream. Couldn’t ask for a better cheerleader.

  8. Excellent blog – I guess the points are often made in writing blogs but you make them with style and panache! And the Yoda quote is so true… I’ll have to investigate what other Yoda quotes there are now…

  9. Well, thanks for this!
    Funny I had my reality check today as well.
    This is what happen “When you blog in a language that is not yours”:
    Very good to see there are lots of people who live the same experience!

  10. Excellent advice–

    However, I blog from Haiti, where things are a bit tenuous right now, so I fear I, too, may be overly focused on fire ants. Yikes! Any advice for working in post-disaster, close-to-coup situations like this?

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed–happened to me earlier this week!

    1. Wow! Stay safe. I do say that you should journal a lot of what you are experiencing. I once lived in a refugee camp in Syria and I did journal, but I wish I would have written more. There were a lot of details that I took for granted that I would remember. You don’t and one day you might need them. Best of luck and again stay safe, 😀

  11. You are so right. Most people I know scratch their heads when I tell them I’m a writer. My family thinks I’m not doing anything (I graduated as an accountant). I mean, I do read and write everyday (a lot of audiobooks and actual readings). I also enjoy watching movies (though I should watch more).

  12. I write to search for the truth, and that alone is worth the effort. It has not brought me wealth, a fact I anticipated, and one that does not concern me.

    I did not know how much writing would be empower me, though. The disingenous soon learn not to argue with people who buy ink by the gallon.

    Dr. B, author, “The Mandolin Case”

  13. I understand what you mean by glamorized. I graduated with a degree in cinema and video production and minored in photography. Most of the people I met at school thought my major was easy. I started to add how many hours a week I was working on my major classes onto the “my major is” statement as an upperclassman to give them an idea. It was rough most of the time, but it was my world. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my life.

    1. Ha ha! I had the same problem as an English major. Not only did people think it was “easy,” they also assumed I was going to be a teacher. Always got a blank stare and a startled “Oh,” when I said I was going to be a writer.

    • Teri on December 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm
    • Reply

    Great advice, and may I say well written? 🙂 Especially enjoyed the part where you basically said, Sack up and just tell ’em you’re a writer! Love it.

    You have a new fan, cannot wait to explore more of your blog.

    From one writer to another,

  14. These are THE best tips I have read so far on writing. Mainly, because I think I can apply much of this to other goals I have and talents that I wish to see become more than just a hobby. At the core of this seems to be the theme to actually believe in yourself — and with confidence. I am “Bookmarking” your blog right now so that I may come back for more info and inspiration! Thanks so much for WRITING!

  15. Thanks for the great advice! I am no longer “aspiring”–I am!

  16. Many artists’ and writers entire careers consist of testing how well they bounce back from kicks in the teeth and run-ins with brick walls.

  17. Another inspiring post! Love the “cross-dressing hermaphrodite who dies in a tragic blow-up doll accident” line. A friend gave me one of those T-shirts that says “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.” When I wear that shirt people are very quiet around me…. Except librarians and bookstore employees. They laugh and compliment it, which I think is hilarious. 🙂


  18. great post. so much fun to read. is it crazy that because you set up being a writer as such a challenge i’m a little bit more intrigued to join the other side? hm maybe i should consider being a writer…. hehe. have a great weekend!


  19. Ok, so first you so answered my question: “The Nook’s ability to have giant font keeps me from throwing up and falling off”– LOL I cannot read while I’m working out, or watch tv.. it’s just not for me.

    2nd– I will so be on here next Wednesday..

    Thanks for the post.

  20. you really got me inspired…..these days my reading has decreased a lot and even though it haunts me that i have a half read book waiting for me,i just cant seem to finish it!!!help me out with that please!!!your idea about movies is great…i have always been an observer about the things you mentioned while watching movies,but that it will help me some day in writing never occured to me!!kudos to your post,loved your style!!will surely come back on wednesday!

  21. show don’t tell is so important. “I felt sad” well, HOW did you feel sad? Thanks!

  22. Kristen, your blog is a little too good. I find myself wanting to stay on and read everything rather than write the story I’m supposed to be working on now. 🙂 I’ve read many books about writing, but I tend to default to my own lazy habits when it comes to plot and “show, don’t tell.” I’m subscribing to your blog in the hope that your good advice will sink in. Thank you for posting and encouraging writers. -Jen

    1. Well, you might save time in the end. I like to think of my blogs as the Cliff’s Notes of the best books on craft, LOL. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Good luck and look forward to seeing you back here.

  23. Well, this was timely.Thanks, Kristen, for the virtual kick in the ass.

  24. As I write this response my 3.5 year old is trying to tackle me and my almost 15 month old is eating my leg. Or giving me kisses – I’m not sure which.

    I am a writer restricted by my Stay at Home Mom job – there is very little “time off”, ever.

    Movies? Those are the things with moving pictures on that big screen that typically only plays Mickey Mouse and Toy Story 2, right?

    Reading? I hope blogs count because I’ve only managed to read a single book this year. I find when the rare free time appears I write instead of read. This from someone who used to read about five books a week BC (Before Children). I load blogs onto my iPod for the rare five minutes here and there but a full book eludes me.

    And the Tough Love? My dear husband – while a reader of my blog – also hates it. Because it takes me away from family time and often deprives me of additional sleep – post bed time is often the only time I get to myself.

    Suggestions on how to balance two children under the age of four with a husband that still wants to see me and somehow write, read, and do other things like social media and watch movies?

    Or should I stick to the blogging for now?

    Oh, and by the way, I believe Yoda said “Do or do not. There is no try.” –> A Star Wars Geek from when I used to have time to watch movies.

    Other than that small misquote of my favorite tiny muppet, excellent article.

    Hunting for a caffeinated meth-addicted ferret for my Christmas gift. They get along with cats, right?


    Must run. Almost 4 year old decided to stand on almost 15 month old….

    1. Okay…so it’s a Yoda paraphrase, but close enough for government work, LOL. I have a one-year-old who actively is looking for death non-stop so it is a balancing act for sure. All I have to say is do what you can and this will pass. When my little one is absorbed in watching cartoons or taking a bath, I read. I sit on the floor while he plays and get in a few pages here and there. Join a gym with ur hubby for the New Year. They often have childcare and try reading on the treadmill or elliptical. I find that the super large font on the Nook makes it where I can work out and read. Helps keep me healthy and a loose back, de-stress and dedicate a whole 40 MINUTES solid to my craft. Or get creative and find ways to do all this anyway…then write a book about it! 😀 It would be a hit, for sure.

      1. I do belong to a gym with childcare – I’m convinced it is the only reason I still have a small amount of sanity. I do the classes there because treadmills and elliptical machines make me want to shoot myself – I feel nauseous watching anything and when I tried reading I got so absorbed I nearly wiped out on the treadmill – plus it left me with a headache.

        If only the huge TVs there had decent programming on them – that I could handle.

        A few times I’ve cheated – skipped the work out entirely and used those precious two hours to shower and write.

        Am I wrong to put writing above reading?

    2. I have an active (almost) two-year-old who adores Veggie Tales movies and Frosty the Snowman and… well, you get the idea. We watch a lot of cartoon movies. Believe it or not there are good writing lessons in those, too. The best is how to keep it simple, but still engaging.

      I also steal a moment here and there to read. My smartphone (Sprint HTC EVO) and Nook have become my best friends. They’re only slightly less interesting to my daughter than a real book (though she does love to “borrow” my husband’s EVO :D).

      As far as hubby goes, we make some time after little treasure is in bed to catch up on favorite shows about once or twice a week. We also make deals with each other for time to do what we need to do for our businesses (he sells star wars action figures on eBay in his “free” time) while the other is toddler-wrangling. We’ve found the give and take makes each of us feel appreciated and lessens the guilt of doing something other than spending time with family.

      Hope this helps.

      1. I LOVE Veggie Tales! “The Lord of the Beans” is my fave. SPORKS! Where was I? actually the Disney movies are some of the BEST use of Hero’s Journey, so kid’s movies are great to study for story-telling. I often reference “The Labyrinth” when teaching. I have ADD anyway, so I am used to absorbing things in small bites, LOL.

  25. Love your blog and love this post. Thanks for the great advice. I first found your blog through another Word Press blog’s blogroll, Coming East, and I am so excited to see you on Freshly Pressed! Congratulations. It was a nice reminder that I am forming my identity every time I say, “I am a writer” rather than say “oh, you know, I’m a stay at home mom who likes to write…”

    – Emily

  26. Hey Kristen, just stumbled upon your blog and I like what I read. You offer some nice, honest advice. I’m going to have to check out your structure series sometime. I like the idea that once you figure out the structure, half-finished novels will be a thing of the past (fingers crossed).

    Well, I’ll be tuning into your advice when I can. Thank you once again.

    • Terrell Mims on December 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm
    • Reply

    great blog. my writing group was accused of being a communist group.

  27. Reminders are all important when it comes to any kind of writing regardless of where it ends up (blogs, books, magazines etc). So thanks for the timely reminder !

  28. I.AM.A.WRITER. hehe and I *love* it! Your post was awesome…and it’s so true! People don’t take you seriously, reading is essential (and studying other authors!), along with watching/studying movies, and blogging. All very important! I have written a novel and now I am in the process of editing it, and looking for a publisher.
    I actually am writing about my book on my blog right now:


    Along with other things… lol


  29. Great points! I disagree with the movie part, and what I would replace it with instead is to study acting and playwriting. This will actually teach you what your characters need in terms of motivation and background, and helps in creating rich dialogue. Personally, I hate when books read as if they are waiting for some hollywood producer to pick up and make into a film. I write books not films.

    But other than that, EXCELLENT points and very true. I do find that more people support writers than you think, but yes, you need to be prepared for people who will not be happy that you are so happy writing. They will kind of look at you like they want to choke you. And you are like? What? What’s wrong?

    It’s because they want to be brave enough to chase their dreams, but they are convinced they have to do the job they absolutely hate because of their parents or society. Anyways, writing is a lonely job, and that’s why blogging is important–it helps you find other writers who WILL support you and be happy for you.

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. I completely agree with the study acting and playwriting, but the movies are still very useful. For instance, “Shutter Island” did some amazing tricks with setting. Want to study a GREAT antagonist? Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter. But, I know what you mean. I can tell writers who watch too many soap operas just from their dialogue, LOL. Actually I have had a lot of supportive people, but I don’t need special tricks for dealing with them…save for maybe a cloning machine-ha ha ha ha. Thanks for the compliment and even the suggestions.

  30. Thanks Kristen! As a writer, I really got a lot out of your article. You’re right about family and friends and their negative nelly attitude. I suppose they think they are being realistic. Maybe they are, but this country was built on dreams.


    • Pamela K. on December 10, 2010 at 6:52 pm
    • Reply

    All so true. Love your posts, Kristen. Does this mean that all those movies I watch are tax are tax deductible?

    1. Yes they are. And all the books you buy and all the magazine subscriptions are a deduction so keep receipts.

  31. I am a writer. I am an author. I’m not an aspiring anything, and I’m not going to settle for telling people I’m just a “blogger” anymore. I’d loved this part too, “But, if you happen to be among that group who dreams of landing an agent, being published and becoming a successful author, I am going to give you a run-down of what to expect so you don’t get caught unawares.”
    It has always been my dream to be a published author, and I know so many other people who just want to write a novel for their own accomplishment! I took that to heart.

    Thank you so much for this post…I’m so glad I found you on Freshly Pressed today, because I’m definitely going to subscribe to your posts!



    1. Thanks, Erika. I hope this blog helps you get there as quickly as possible, :D. Thanks for taking the time to comment and I look forward to seeing you next week!

  32. This one made me, to quote Scrooge, “giddy as a schoolboy.” Okay, schoolgirl, in my case. As I was reading I could honestly say, “I do that!” to just about everything. Thanks for helping me fibd just a bit more self-confidence in my career choice.

    1. Muppets Christmas Carol! Now it makes sense why we are peeps! LOL. Great…now I have “Marley & Marley” in my head. Must go hum….

  33. Wow, what a terrific post. Loved the part about trying not to throw up on the elliptical…I tried to do catch up on some light reading many a day at the gym, but realized that the musician in me was keeping the beat with the steady woosh-woosh-woosh of the elliptical’s track. So, back to the motivating tunes of my iPod I went.

    Congrats on FP! This was a really thorough and helpful post, coming from a new blogger. Thanks!

  34. Well done. I actually really enjoy revising, but it is time consuming.

  35. Kristen,
    Your book is my “nonfiction” pick for next week! I ordered it a few days ago and can’t wait to delve into it. Thank you for your consistency and for “showing’ us that a successful writing career in today’s publishing environment is possible! I’ve been preparing for this all of my life. Your quote from Yoda is the reminder I needed to hear today, as are all the words you’ve posted here. Signing off to do some writing and blogging now. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Joanna. Please keep me posted on your success. I am putting together a WANA II. Thanks for taking the time to comment and I am really happy I could be a blessing to you, 😀

  36. Great post Kristen. Totally agree with everything, except the Sasquatch thing. He’s out there and I’m going to find him.

    1. He has my socks…I know it! I go to the dryer and ONE missing sock. It must be a dimensional time-continuum shift thing and he is using it to clothe himself in a suit of socks.

      1. Thanks. That’s the closest to a composite as I’ve gotten so far. I’m closing in on you big guy!

        1. Yes…look for Ladies Hanes anklets stitched together into a disguise that resembles unwashed whites.

  37. Kristen,
    Just came across this blog for the first time and already am a big fan. I am one of those people who consider themselves aspiring but you’re right, gotta suck it up and get serious. I hope you’ll check out my blog when you get a chance and maybe even leave a comment if you like or dislike anything you see. I’ll be checking in on yours regularly!

  38. I have just started my blog and will tune in on Wednesday. Here’s a quick question: as a former aspiring author who has very recently become an author, how often should I post to my blog?

    1. We will talk more about that in the future, but I recommend 3 times a week. Once a week it is easy for people to forget about you, and you don’t gain a following as quickly. When I started out, I blogged once a week and I have found that 3X a week is MUCH easier. It seems counterintuitive, but it is the truth. I think it is because it is easier to gain a readership because you are top of mind. Then that readership keeps you inspired and accountable. But, in the end, just make sure you are consistent. In my book, I recommend writing fifteen posts ahead of time and getting them in the queue. Then you won’t feel as much pressure because you will have some “Blog padding.”

  39. Hahaha… You sound like my Writer’s Craft teacher, minus her use of Shakespearian insults. Yes, that is a compliment to you.

    Well, I started on the blog thing… seems I have a long way to go…

    If only teachers understood the need to read incessantly through their classes!!! Why can I not write the rediculously long note and read at the same time!?

  40. Great post! I’m looking forward to more. Best, Dara 🙂

  41. Freshly Pressed AGAIN? Darn you, it’s that combination of witty writing and good advice, isn’t it? I knew there was some mystic secret formula to blogging success…..

    1. You are the sweetest. I think you just stick around long enough so the competition tires out and drops away LOL. Thanks for the comment and it’s always good seeing you here :D.

  42. Thanks, I needed that! After three years of blogging, I was beginning to consider the possibility that cleaning my apartment might be a more appropriate use of my time than blogging. I think you may have rescued me.

    I notice that your book is published on whodareswinspublishing.com. I’m glad that your post led dme to whodares. I’ve recently been considering using smashwords.com. I have not kept up with the rapid developments in ebooks. If you, or anyone you know could write a post demystifying ebook self-publishing, I’m sure many writers would be happy to learn about it. How is a writer to figure out which ebooks platform is best?

    Thanks for some great insights.

    1. I would recommend signing up for Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer newsletter. He is the best resource I know for that information. You have to query WDW PUB just like a trad publisher and they are waaaay picky, but doesn’t hurt to contact them :D. Thanks for taking the time to leave such a lovely compliment. 😀

  43. While all of those things mentioned are I think dead on the most striking one is about the family and friends. While almost everyone sits down to the television or a good book or goes to the movies to enjoy what WRITERS have created, when you tell someone that you are a writer, you always get THAT look. You know the one I am talking about. The same look you would get if you told them you thought aliens were communicating to you through your television. The same look that says they think your weird, crazy, or both.


  44. Thanks for the sound advice! When I was 5 I told everyone I wanted to be a writer. Now it’s like, next year when I hopefully have more time and money to not have to work as many hours, then I’ll have time to write. My recent kick in the pants happened after reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I’ve started an inconsistent blog, which I now feel isn’t pointless, and in NaNoWriMo spirit am working on a short story that was supposed to be a week long endeavor, but I’m continuing it for a third week. Here goes nothin’!

    Thanks for the advice, I’ll definitely be checking in again for help with blogging and the publishing industry.

  45. I couldn’t agree more with Kristen’s thoughts. My own writing takes out most weekends and evenings, sometimes to the annoyance of my wife. But that’s the reality of it.

    It demands determination. Getting from where I began (nowhere) to where I am now (a little place of somewhere, maybe) took years – during which I wrote every single day for no return and nothing published. As if it were work. In fact getting anywhere had quite a lot to do with persistent hard work and a lot of luck to get my first book out.

    Blogging – yeah, that’s part of it. I treat my blog like a newspaper column I used to write – regular posting, even if there’s an occasional scrabble for content. And I try to keep it focussed; editorially, it’s a writing blog. ‘Think professional editor, think magazines’, I tell myself. A friend of mine runs the New Zealand Beer Blog. He gets fifty times the readers I do. But I keep going anyway. Persistence works…eventually…

    And yes, you have to treat the whole thing like a job. Inspiration makes about 10 percent of it. The rest is discipline, determination and – you’ve guessed it, more hard work! Did I mention the hard work? Here, let me mention it again…

    Lots of aspiring writersI know don’t seem to ‘get it’; they think writing is easy (ha ha!), and the rewards they envisage the red-carpet celebrity treatment and a fat bank account (ha ha!) and perhaps tea and tiffin with J K Rowling.

    Writers know better, of course.

    Matthew Wright

  46. Awesome post.

    I agree about the blogging; my blog has really forced me to get off my ass and actually WRITE something! Tomcat


    • wellcraftedtoo on December 11, 2010 at 12:36 am
    • Reply

    Lots of good points, but do not agree with the ‘we must blog’. I always know when my writing is going well, or not: my blogging, letter/email writing, and phone calls increase when I’m not writing!

    I’m a fiction writer. I enjoy blogging, but do not need it to ‘advertise’. And it does steal a rather shocking amount of time!

    When I’m writing regularly and with depth (and leading the ‘rest’ of my life), I have little time or energy left for other writing. Some, but not copious amounts.

    A goal that I, and many others I know, have now is finding ways to manage, and reduce, time spent online!

  47. Writting can be so much more than just tough. Take my life PLEASE! But really trying to write some life experience can take a toll. Not just any experience something say like. The worlds largest corporations trying to dispose of deadly toxins the only way they can with an intentional release and their toxic clould lands on your home. First your told $10 million in four months and six months later your told to be quite about what happened. Your threatened, told you will never be allowed to bankrupt these corporations, that the toxins will kill you in five years and your child is too young to inherit that kind of money. ??????

    Before it’s over the threats to be silent are carried out your put in jail as all threats are next laid aside so attorneys, judges and state officials use your claims to gain a known $330 million and the documents it took six years to recover shows they sought $2 billion. Ten years after settlements your home was never replaced and your part of all those actions and money are held by the court under a pending action AWAITING YOUR DEATH.

    Damn, what a bumber. I was able to post those documents of corruption as all attempts via pro’se to gain any of our awards were ordered stopped by the court, which after having the attorneys withdraw thought they would quitely await our death. And hell yeah I live in America. The entire matter makes me sick. This would be the real story of a Corporate Government Conspiracy. Pending that is.I really wish I could find a writer who could do the story real justice. This one has it all. American Corruption at it’s worse.

  48. This is a great post, Kristen! You’ve got some good advice for all the writers out here. I guess you should have also mentioned having self-confidence. Without it, a writer can’t go far. He/she has to believe in what he/she can do and where he/she can go with the skill of writing. 🙂

    Cheers! 🙂

  49. Good post smothered with solid advice. It most definitely does take guts to be a writer.

  50. Good, practical, no-punches-pulled advice. Discipline plays a considerable role. So does a strong constitution – so you can pay the bills by doing whatever it takes, and still keep reading and writing.

  51. This reminds me of how many writers I know tend to call themselves authors. Well-deserved Likes, Kristen. (:

  52. I want to be a science fiction writer, but don’t really write much science fiction. For a long time I was just writing journals, that were pretty personal, involving stuff that people would really think I was fucked up if they ever read, but then I realized I could just post this stuff anonymously.

    What do you recommend people blog about? Or is it just the act of blogging that provides a personal stimulus to write?

    1. Will you check out my blog? I think it is good, but I keep getting it buried on reddit. I think they don’t get it. Plus it is rather inflammatory.


  53. Thank you for sharing all that information. I will take your advice and practice saying, “I am a writer”.

  54. Thank you so much!
    I am just now trying to get promotion for my blog – I’ve had a personal one for ages that only my close friends and family ever read. It’s a different type of writing, having to censor yourself a bit because you’re not sure who’s reading.

    I love these tips, and I’m going to have to start getting a little more in-depth with my social networking (I guess I’m off to a good start, since I spend too much time on facebook as it is!)

  55. Great, helpful advice.
    I don’t have a hard time calling myself a writer despite never having been published – “If you build it, they will come,” I say.
    My children, on the other hand, need some serious convincing. My six year old just brought home a sheet from school where she had filled out “My father is a lawyer (spelled loyer). My mother is in the kitchen (spelled cichin)”.
    We need to work on that…

  56. wonderful blog 🙂

  57. Oh! Marvelous! I’ve been searching for a guru!
    *bowing at your feet with my nose to the floor, hands outstretched*
    Excellent post. I sincerely laughed right out loud when I read, “The Nook’s ability to have giant font keeps me from throwing up and falling off.” That is really good to know. No other customer feedback offerings have detailed that particular benefit, so thanks for that!

    1. Thanks angie for the feedback and comments. They are always appreciated. The good thing about making FP is you get a lot of traffic and comments. The bad thing is that you have comments coming at you so quickly that it is hard to keep up….a great problem to have btw. I am happy you enjoyed the blog and I look forward to helping you grow in your craft and your career, :D. And, yes, I have even found that i can read in the car (not while I am driving, of course). But I used to get car sick if I tried to read in the car, but now I am fine. Took a trip to Arkansas and read for hours. The larger font keeps me from getting motion sickness (for what this advice is worth, LOL.)

  58. (I don’t know if I hit that little box that notifies me by email when there has been wise remarks to my comment… so I’m baaaaaaaaaack!)

  59. I’m trying to write a book, but I’ve not gotten much support from my family, I’ve only gotten support from my friends. Yet, I’m still going strong.

  60. Tough advice but sometimes it is necessary to spell it out.
    I used to hate telling people at social gatherings that I’m a writer because they believe that the job is ‘easy’- but now I don’t care. Like Mark Twain said, ‘Watch out or you’ll be in my novel!”

    1. It figures Twain said that, LOL.

  61. Kristen,
    Congrats on being freshly pressed. I’m glad I found your blog. It is just what I’ve been needing – particularly today’s posting. I’ve recently gone from working full time to being a housewife/aspiring writer on the other side of the world. I’m in the perfect position right now to focus on writing, and I appreciated your instructions for not half-assing it and saying “I am a writer.”

    I read a lot, but have neglected the movies. I never thought of them as beneficial to being a writer, but now I will watch and learn. My sister commented that facebook, and the brevity that is required (or appreciated) in statuses has made my writing more succinct. Another interesting way of learning that most people might neglect.

    I’m looking forward to Wednesday’s post.


  62. Great post! Thanks for validating the dismay I feel when I tell people I am a writer. Glad to hear others feel the same frustrations. Great tips and motivation in this post…I may need to refer back to it when I’m having one of those ‘what am I thinking?’ days…

    Can’t wait to check out your book. Congrats on being published and on being Freshly Pressed!



  63. Very good entry. I just graduated with a degree in professional writing with a creative concentration literally a few days ago. It’s scary out here in the real world. Without a full-time job, I’m starting to realize that writing is something I want to take seriously, so I’m going to try to freelance as a way to earn some extra money and hopefully get my name out there. I started my blog as an assignment and am taking it further, because, “we need to blog.” I think a lot of people are under one of two impressions: that writing isn’t lucrative and a waste of time, or that writing is easy and you get to “be your own boss.” It’s hard. That’s it. You have to work at it and I like the way you’ve outlined it here, without the peppermint puppies.

    1. There is a lot of freelance work out there if you are willing to scrabble and go after it. I always laugh when people act like writing isn’t a real job. I think, Um…ever been on the Internet? All it is is pictures, art and WRITING. Not to mention commercials, ads, instructions, television, radio, lyrics, books, movies…..yeah, writing is a waste of time, LOL.

  64. This blog post comes at a perfect time in my life! I just decided this past week to stop be an aspiring writer and actually research literary agents, draft a query letter and outline a book proposal for a memoir about my life in China as an American. Thank you for the straightforward advice! I look forward to reading your posts (both past and future).


    • Nigel on December 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm
    • Reply

    I’d add exercise to the list of things that help me write. Actually it helps with life all round, but writing particularly. Oh. and Saturday mornings too 🙂

  65. “invest in a caffeinated meth-addicted ferret to guard the door for you while you write.”- that is one of my many favorite lines in your article, hilarious, and very true! I’ve tried to kick myself somewhat in gear by writing articles for a blog and submitting them. It definitely isn’t easy being a writer!

  66. very inspiring.. 🙂

  67. What a great post to land on Freshly Pressed. Way to go.

    I’m so glad to find you online. I’ll be back. 🙂

  68. Hey so I assumed most people who wrote blogs “were writers” 😉 but have yet to come across a blog where you claim to be. It is relieving. This past summer, a stranger asked me what I did – I told them “a writer” because I dang it I AM. I carry a moleskine, find random insight into daily observation.

    HOWEVER. I am looking for writer support – real “I am working on this character and blank is happening”. I started a category on my blog titled “Dear Elizabeth Gilbert”. A place I pose questions to (ahem) writers. wink smile wink. I have long put off dedication and your point to read is taken – I am going to my church now to decorate and then I am going to Borders.

  69. I love writing. I’ve been writing since I was a child–and used it many times during my childhood to escape a lot of trauma. It was therapeutic. When I write I can choose to share a part of myself, or create imaginary worlds with a pen over which I am a god–and have put many instances of killing off characters that represented abusive people and/or bullies in my life. I wonder if the South Park writers are killing Kenny off all of the time because it represents a childhood bully? Anyway, my family doesn’t give me much flak about writing though. They are grateful I had the outlet as a child, and are grateful that I manage to make time to share some things now.

    For example, at 16 or 17, I stopped going to theaters for the most part. I was into punk, and to me Hollywood WAS THE establishment. Yes, I know. It was a screwed up view, but life was screwed up back then as far as I can remember. I would watch old movies and silent movies with my dad. Now I go to movies once in a while, but very few appeal to me because I tend to judge them by an older standard. If an actor cannot make me believe that the character can jump from the screen into an audience and convince them it is real, I tend to not like the entire movie.

    What got me back into it was watching Dark Shadows Resurrected on hulu.com in 2009. Weird huh? I never knew who Ben Cross was until then because I ignored movies until then. Seriously! Well, I won’t miss any of his work, that of Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Kenneth Branaugh, Derek Jacobi, Bill Macy, Sam Elliot, Kate Mulgrew, Michael Caine and quite a few others now. Going to see them bring a character to life is worth the price of a movie ticket. Don’t ask me about actors my age and younger. They don’t do much for me. It seems that they play a lot of the same thing again and again, but the ones I mentioned NEVER give characters the same personality as the one(s) they played before.

    Thank you for your post! I will keep checking this blog! I love it!

  70. I love the idea of watching movies to help us write. I’ve never heard that advice before, but it’s so helpful to tap into character emotion and setting.

  71. I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe someone else has already picked this nit, but since you made such a point of it, maybe a clarification is in order.

    A writer is a person who writes. (And you are correct, aspiring simply means one is not actually writing.)

    An author is a writer who is published, as in “Donigan Merritt is the author of seven novels,” or “I am the author of … .”

    This is an interesting blog.

    • Seilann on December 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm
    • Reply

    Hello Kristen,

    I just found you on freshly pressed, and I have to say that I totally agree with the above advice (though I never would have thought of most of it). I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!

    ~Mary M.

  72. I am a Writer. Um… reality check on the reality check. You are a writer if you make your living by writing. If not, you are a person who writes. This is not optional. Anyway, why tell anyone? It’s none of their business.

    1. That is a misnomer and a load of crap. If I am an entrepreneur, am I only a REAL entrepreneur once I make a profit? No! I am an entrepreneur the day I declare it so. The day I make a profit, then I am a SUCCESSFUL entrepreneur. It is this faulty thinking that sabotages too many writers. I have no idea why other people apply this standard to writers when it doesn’t apply in business. And you are right it isn’tt any of their business and they are the ones with poor manners concerning themselves with your paycheck, :P.

  73. Wow! What a PEP talk. In our house we call it a “come to Jesus meeting”, and I have to thank you for the virtual face slapping, in your face reality check. Now I will go read, write, and watch.

    1. Glad I could help, and thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I hope you stop by on Monday for my craft blog. 😀

  74. I’m going out to get a meth-addicted ferret now. Thanks for the insights!

  75. I am so happy to have found your blog of inspiration: thank you, I’m hooked!
    From one writer to another : )

  76. Thank you so much for this, especially for the permission to count all the ‘other stuff’ I do as relevant. I am writing around a full-time teaching job and only manage maybe half an hour 3 to 5 times a week, but I am reading on the train to/from work, thinking about plotting when watching films etc – so I am making good use of my time after all! And I just started a blog and to actually use Twitter.

    Thanks for the generosity of your advice here.

  77. Great post! I definitely get the “not being taken seriously” part; it’s hard to get family and friends to say “Hey, okay, I get it, you’re a writer.” It’s even harder to get yourself to say that. I’ve only recently begun calling myself a writer, and it’s quite refreshing. Writing every day is a challengingly good time!

  78. This is great! I cannot wait to read more posts!

  79. Awesome post! It’s really inspiring, and I love watching movies and I’m addicted to blogging, so I have a good head start. I’m a funny writer, I write funny stuff and soon plan on transcribing all my journals into ebooks – 15 years worth of material…ugh. I’ll most likely end up buying your book. Good job with everything!

  80. Love it.. I agree… I wrote my book.. the part is letting it go.. and sending it for publishing… I have to fight the “it’s not good enough” feeling..

  81. Hi,
    I liked your blog post, can use help and will continue reading. I started a blog as well to get familiar with the whole social media thing and to hopefully create some following, a potential interest in by own novella, On Thin Ice, and my blog babyboomerwrites and website.
    Good luck to you and I hope you continue writing.
    Babyboomerwrites Johanna

  82. hmmm… I don’t know that our profession has been ‘glamorized’ for a long while… remember when they actually used to have writers as guests on talk shows and late-night shows? …those days are long gone.

    …but I agree with everything else…

    keep writing.

  83. Hey Kristen, just stumbled upon your blog and I like what I read. You offer some nice, honest advice. I’m going to have to check out your structure series sometime. I like the idea that once you figure out the structure, half-finished novels will be a thing of the past (fingers crossed).

    Well, I’ll be tuning into your advice when I can. Thank you once again.

    • Laurie Faelan on December 12, 2010 at 1:36 am
    • Reply

    Excellent post! Glad I took you up on your invitation to visit. I’m enjoying your book and thinking about starting my own blog. I’ve been in a group blog for years but I guess that doesn’t really do too much to set up my own platform.

    Rejection is another thing a writer should expect and we need perseverance, balance, and focus. With the internet at our disposal, it’s easy to get lost in research, promoting, and networking! That’s my challenge. I’ll get on the internet and the next thing I know, several hours has gone by!

    I don’t watch too much TV, I’d rather read and always find time to do it! For those of you who have trouble finding the time, the bathroom is an excellent place to leave a book. 😉

    I’m putting this blog on my favorites list and I’ll be back on Monday to check out the craft post!

  84. I loved the advice. I’m not sure what category to put myself in, though. I’m an engineering student, but, yes, I’d love to have a published novel in my name. Something completely unrelated to engineering. But, I fear, the window for that is closing (the more I know about engineering, the more I fear that I will lose my flair for writing).

    So, I pose a question to you, what do you think I should do? Should I get down that story that’s been fermenting in my mind over the past six months? Or should I wait until something more substantial comes along, after all, I’m supposed to get smartified at uni. 🙂

    1. Some of the best mega-authors came from scientific fields. Crighton and Cook were doctors. James Rollins was a veterinarian. One of the strongest writers in my Warrior Writer Boot Camp is an engineer. I would recommend that you read through my structure blogs and get it down. No time like the present and let me know any way I might help :D.

      1. Thank you for the advice! My holidays are right round the corner, and I’ll get right to it then! 😀 I’ll keep you posted on my developments as well…

  85. Thank you so much for this post and I’m so glad you are on freshly pressed. I’m a writer with a pesky day job. I’m going to get a Nook for Christmas this year and use it like you do. Again, thanks for the shot in the arm, I’ll be subscribing to your blog.



    1. Thanks, Marie. Please make sure you tune in on Modays for craft. I work to help ALL aspects of an aspiring author’s career. 😀

  86. As writers should we set aside times to write even if our minds are blank? Or write only when we feel inspired to write or have something specific on our minds?

    I thought this was a great blog!! Great advice. Loved it.

    1. Read other blogs. On Wednesday I give a Mash Up of Awesomeness. These are almost always people who can be counted on for regular outstanding content. I also listed some great blogs to follow on this blog. Read and get the juices flowing and then sit down to write ;).

  87. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

    This is a great post. You have definitely given me some food for thought, and I thank you for that. I’ll be subscribing to your blog, and am looking forward to exploring more of your posts.

    Great work!


  88. Great post…
    Honesty can be discouraging (usually).
    But warning such as this one are always welcomed. It’s like getting a review of ur career choice before investing in it.

    Don’t stop howling…
    OhKami’s Voice


  89. This was a great article, but the basic problem still is the same: certain people only check other people’s work or writing. Work or writing which is the genre they like to read only, or recommendations or suggestions from a certain type person they feel they can identify with. They do not “branch out”. They only choose to read those who have similar profile or author information to themselves, often which says…i live in so-in-so place with my partner, umpteenth number of animals and some craft or hobby which is unique.

    That is something neither I nor anyone can control. That is simply how things go, but I would love to see readers and writers who read others work, to actually break out of the “trending” media tags that they follow and use their intelligence, which I believe is on the average great (I am an optimist in that) but it just fact that the mainstream readers and those who follow, tag, retweet or “befriend” do so because that person is writing similarly to themselves. It doesn’t matter of interest, or importance or solid good writing.

    A number have commented as “solid advice” and it is, but it is also the same as hundreds before have given. I just have the issue when quoted sources or material which has supplied thoughts or observation is not listed, and obviously reading this piece…this writer had included other people’s thoughts and observations in their own post. It is very easy and proper to use the correct style of quoting or paraphasing. I believe proper source should be supplied.

  90. Hmmmm, i believe this answers my question on what to do with all that I have written so far! This was inspiring, thanks Kristen!

  91. Your post reminded me to just let the hens keep pecking. At the end of the day, they answer to the cock that crows. History doesn’t remember DaVinci’s accountant or Einstien’s insurance agent or Shakespear’s banker. Writers, along with other artist’s invent society, culture and language.

    1. What a beautiful way to put our profession. Thanks! 😀

  92. Hi Kirsten,
    I am author roda langrana. I am I said…..to no-one there, And no-one heard at all, Not even the chairs. I am I cried….boo hoo.(remember the song) You hit the nail on the head that not even your family members are eager to talk about your book, well to be honest all the time as I like to do) To begin at the beginning I authored my book just about a few months back and while there was initial enthu at home cause momma dear had written a book it soon died down especially as the subject of my book is the LOA. My kids are crazy readers but they feel that spirituality is for people my age not theirs. And to think I wrote it keeping the younger aged in mind as I thought the younger you start the better life you can have for that many more years. Eliminate the struggle of a tortuous day job earning a piddly sum.

    • Thaddeus Dombrowski on December 12, 2010 at 9:11 am
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen.

    A member of my writing group turned my onto your blog about a week ago. If you have noticed a surge of activity since then, it’s probably me going through all your posts. Great stuff. Keep it up.

    I ordered your book. I am looking forward to reading it when it arrives. In the mean time, I registered a new blog using my name in the address. I must admit, though, that while I don’t have a problem with blogging, I have reservations about facebook and twitter.

    Twitter seems to me to be nothing more than blogging with a phone. My impression is that it’s faddish, and a waste of time. (I’m a guy who doesn’t own a TV because I find it to be a waste of time.)

    Facebook is something I have avoided as a personal site because I have issues with the way they are geared towards using people and their ‘friends’ for marketing purposes. In essence, they are commoditizing human relationships. I have a problem with that. Now, you are advising us to take advantage of that. I feel like I am compromising myself if I create a webpage on their site in order to establish myself as an author. Am I?

    1. Thaddeus, here is the thing. A lot of this stuff will be helpful to you once you publish, and right now you are laying the groundwork ahead of time so that you can focus on writing when the time comes. When you read my book (THANKS! btw) I explain how Twitter and FB will serve you and your platform. I am all about being genuine and I totally get your concerns. There are a lot of people who basically use social media to spam. I like to think it is because no one is teaching them what to do/say once they get on there, so they default to what is easy…goofing off or non-stop self-promo. The method I teach you makes your efforts meaningful. Truthfully, once you build the platform, you can maintain and grow it in less than 20 minutes a day. I think you will want to spend longer simply because some of the best people out there are on social media (my fave is Twitter).

      I believe that we should use our intimate networks, because, most of the time, they want to help. I have friends who have published books and I buy all of their stuff, whether I like the genre or not. I also promote them on my pages and tell people about their book…because they are my friends, and that’s what friends do :D. If you read my book you will see that the habits I teach will make it where people, when the time comes, will WANT to support you because you have made it a habit of supporting, edifying and helping them.

      Please keep in touch and let me know how it goes. ~Kristen

  93. Awesome blog, thank you, and I look forward to the weekly tips on blog topics. You haven’t put me off my journey, just made me realise how much more I want it!

    Downloading your ebook now, thanks!

    1. Thank you! I look forward to being even more help to you and let me know how you like the book and if you have any questions :D.

  94. I’m still not entirely sure whether i’m a writer or a hobby typist.

  95. For many people the art of writing is simplicity itself, they merely need to sit in front of their PC, run up the right software and begin typing. In no time at all a bestselling novel is there on the monitor and the first publishers are knocking at their door with million-dollar contracts ready to be signed closely followed by the moguls from Hollywood.

    The truth is completely different. As you so rightly say, there is a lot of hard work involved. The market in writers is filled to overflowing, simply because everyone and his dog believes that they have the skills and the story to make it big or because their opinion on this or that is one which everyone should read.

    And then the inexperienced writer, no matter which genre they’ve sought out for themselves, falls foul of the publishing sharks: Publishing Erotica. For every story of a success – be it Rowling or anyone else – there are hundreds of failures, hundreds of scams.


  96. Great post! I’ll bear that in mind when I finally get around to digging out my terrible first draft … post-NaNo-anxiety has hit me suddenly.

    • Tina Thomas on December 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm
    • Reply

    I love this blog and will get the ebook. I also agree with the other respondent about what most people tend to read, but I tend to read diverse authors. I like to get differing views and such because it keeps me in check and helps me to focus more–like going to movies does now.

  97. Great!
    Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  98. Great post. This is the first time I stumbled upon your blog. I really enjoy your style and will keep reading.

  99. Alright, next time I get a manicure, I’ll be sure to take some reading material with me 😉


  100. Thanks for that. Made me laugh too AND I found out what a Nook is. I had a vague idea to write, so I’m trying that. So far I’ve had one friend recommend that I give up the thesis style, but hey can’t please everyone! Let me know if you find any of my stuff interesting. Will keep tuned for more of your tips. Mark

  101. Great points! I have found that blogging has given me discipline. Sure, there are times when I am in need of inspiration and it all feels more of a chore than a joy, but that is how everything is in life. This was an excellent read!

  102. So glad this post landed on Freshly Pressed – you’ve helped a lot of writers out, I’m sure. I’ll admit, it was difficult in the beginning to say “I’m a writer” whenever somebody asked me what I did, because my day job certainly didn’t utilize those talents to their fullest extent. Luckily (ha) I’m unemployed now, and devoting pretty much all my time to being the writer that I’ve been all along. I look forward to coming back and reading more from you!

  103. How about this tip as well: cultivate a way to make a living along with making time for your art. Many people live in a fantasy about their creative abilities, and of the world recognizing their talents. Even highly talented people need practical skills.

  104. Thanks so much for this. I just bought your book. Great honest encouragement!

  105. Wow. So glad I found this link via @amysorrells on twitter. Way to tell it like it is.

    • Abigail on December 13, 2010 at 3:04 am
    • Reply

    I completely agree with your first point, as that is the basis behind the name of my blog. I actually consider a writer as someone who writes, which applies to anyone who writes, and an author is someone who is published. (Which I am not. )

    About the reading part… I’m not completely certain about that one. I agree that all authors need to read something, but I need to reject that idea that you cannot write merely because you don’t avidly read. I don’t have TIME to read, and any extra time I do have I use to write. That is why I like movies. Because it provides me examples of structures in two hour segments.

    So if you’re looking for good topics to blog about, syllabuses sound good to me.

  106. Amazing post! Thorough and plain. There also one thing to consider, never take one person’s critic as general for there are as many reading tastes as there are people in the world and what one considers to be garbage is another person’s words of enlightenment.
    “There is no try, only do” wow i liked that. It’s always sexy to hear a girl quoting starwars!

    wish you the best words!

  107. I really liked this post. The fact of the matter is, i AM an aspiring writer – NOT a professional writer or author or anything like that, as I’m just a seventeen year-old girl still in high school. But this post was actually inspiring.

  108. Thank you for the reality check. Indeed being a writer is work. I do believe that you forgot to mention 1) Be ready for criticism, develop a tough demeanor. Yes some people will just criticize your work for the sake of criticizing, however you should not take everything to heart. I have commented on some blogs where the writers do not take kindly to anyone who does not agree with the topic they wrote about or to any comment they dislike. Our art, I consider myself a writer although I do wish to publish is to bring forth ideas to others that may offend, upset, annoy, or amuse, please let’s acknowledge that and not get into a tizzy when we are confronted with the consequences of our actions which is to bring forth sensitive topics.
    Apart from that, thank you very much for this article. I look forward to reading your book. I shall place in on my list.
    L. http://lynnaima.wordpress.com/

  109. Great post. Your advice is brutally honest, and it’s exactly what we need to hear! I could read this every Monday, and I think it would definitely help me stay focused on my identity as a writer. Thanks so much!

    • Sophie Grand on December 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm
    • Reply

    Love the post… really got me thinking.

  110. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! It’s an excellent post, I love your honesty and thank you for wake up call. I look forward to going through your older posts as another way to boost my reading (without feeling guilty that I should be writing). I’ve only just started writing this year, and am constantly looking for motivation and inspiration – just what your blog does 🙂

  111. I am not a writer, I am opinionated, wordy, can’t spell and the list goes on. My wife on the other hand can say more in the fewest works of anyone I know and she can’t stand it if you don’t have the facts. Never let a good story get in the way of the truth, that is what I say.

  112. What a great article! I love the way you sound when you write 🙂 Consider yourself Tweeted my friend. I’ll be checking out a lot more of what you got.

    1. Thanks. I am happy you enjoyed :D.

    • kashitomotate on December 13, 2010 at 4:31 pm
    • Reply

    wow. freshly pressed is freshly pressed.
    and your ideas are indeed FRESH!
    makes me think about writing more and more by the microsecond.

  113. Hey! Congratulations on being FP’d! Love love love the post and blog! This is essentially what I have been doing, albeit without my knowledge. I watch movies and read and people watch and immediately go into prose mode and start imaginary scenarios and figure out the why’s and what’s and how’s. Now I know that writing should be my day job, not second job! Gotta be more motivated and go about it!

    Thank you for the inspirational words, and I will certainly be looking up your book! 🙂

  114. Wow. I have never read anything that made me feel so understood as a writer and so encouraged. I love your advice; it was incredibly helpful! I look forward to reading your book as soon as I get the chance to buy it 🙂

  115. Thanks Kristen for this educative post. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!


  116. I like this VW Bus!

    • Dan on December 14, 2010 at 3:09 pm
    • Reply

    Copy editing/proof reading is also helpful by the looks of this article.

    While I agree with almost everything you say here, blogging is terrible if you want to be a writer, well, a fiction writer at least. You shouldn’t spend your precious writing energy on a crappy, derivative blog (unless it’s you daily bounty of words). That leads to all the fucking around you abstained writers from earlier in your article.

    Also, things that are not so classy, rants.

  117. Great article. I found this searching for the title of your article. Regarding your blog,I have to say that you have done a good job here. Thanks.

  118. I often to refer to myself as an aspiring writer. Even though I have a journalism dip. and had numerous articles published in the local paper.I guess I feel like if I say I’m an author people will ask what have you gotten published? All I can say is um articles.lol I really rather be a novelist but I’m not. Would it be ok to say aspiring novelist? haha what do you think?

    1. No aspiring. Just tell them you are a professional writer and now you are taking on a novel. There are different types of writers. I was a copy writer and technical writer. The second you slap that “aspiring” in front of your title, you will sabotage your efforts. Trust me ;).

    • Dawn Joyce-Reno on December 15, 2010 at 3:27 am
    • Reply

    I believe I just became your newest fan. This is an inspirational kick in the pants post that energized me and made me think. Seriously though, two books a week? I am lucky if I can fit in two books a month. But, I am willing to try anything.

    I have also labeled myself an aspiring writer…no more! I am taking the more ballsy approach. Hello, I am a writer.

    I have recently been working on building my platform because I am on my third book and would love to get it published one day. So between two blogs, now twitter, facebook, and three social forums, I have found that it is a lot of work and sometimes it feels like I am goofing off but then last night an editor to a website contacted me and asked me if he could publish three of my poems! They were published this morning. And it is the first time I have ever been credited with published work, so yeah, it works!

  119. I have to laugh. I began receiving your Twitter update this past week. Now, mind you, I have had a Twitter account for a few years…but no one else in my social circle uses it…so i have all but two followers!!! I keep hoping that will change when people wake up to social networking…ha..that’ll be the day! Well…I began receiving a zillion posts from your blog yesterday and I thought…”There is no way…I don’t want all this stuff…it’s too much…yada yada yada…But then I began checking out some posts….and boy…what gems you have planted in each one! Now I am slowly reading as much as I can. How helpful.

    I was a closet writer most of my life. Too intimidated and devoid of confidence to let others even know it was a passion. Only my husband knew…and he was always supportive. Well, I came out of the closet…first on BlogHer last month. I switched to WordPress. You know the rest….we all have the same story in some way.

    I love your idea of just saying “I’m a writer” and I am beginning to do that. I have a long way to go but I will enjoy each step in the journey. I appreciate your no nonsense, tough love approach. Can’t wait to read more. Thank you.

  120. Thanks for the great perspective and reality check. My sister and I I had a good laugh about the “rebirthing” part since I started out as an engineer twenty years ago and have finally gotten around to the writing I was meant to do. When you say “tune in Wednesday” is that for a video presentation or another blog posting? I’m still learning about the importance of social networking….

    1. No, I just used “tune in” as a way to covertly say “Read my blog” :D. I will be putting together video this coming year, but that won’t be for a while. The “rebirthing” part was my favorite and yet you’re the only one who mentioned it. I’m glad it gave you a chuckle too. actually, engineers make excellent writers. some of the best participants in my workshops come from analytical fields.

    • Andy on December 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm
    • Reply

    Wow, I’m so glad I found this. I’m going to keep referring back here. I think I’ve got some of your points down, but I can see vast areas for improvement (not surprisingly). At first I thought of writing as a hobby (gasp) but now I really want to be serious about it! Thank you.

  121. Whoa! Great post! I was going through the FP’s and skipped this one as I didn’t feel like reading another ‘How To’ blog on writing. But then the picture of the colourful van grabbed my attention and I gave it a go. And I’m glad I did!
    Thanks for thoroughly legitimizing the ‘goofing off’!! I had an inkling all the things I do weren’t just ‘time-wasting’ 😉
    So don’t be surprised if I add you to my regular reading 🙂

  122. Hi Kristen,

    Thank you for your blog, and interestingly enough… it actually described most of the processes I am already following as a writer. You are completely right, family members go nuts because you’re “too busy” to spend time with them and they just can’t understand why.

    I work a full-time job, as well as balance my time with writing, research, marketing, networking, social media, etc. Being a writer for me is not about trying to get rich quick, or quitting my day job… but about the passion to tell a story and to get that out there for people to read and immerse themselves into.

    In regards to movies, I actually do most of my reading online (I know, my entire paper book collection is death staring me right now) and watch a lot of movies with my wife. We discuss them, talk about the twists, amazing/good/bad/shocking/god awful storyline, characters, emotions, etc.

    When I write, I actually picture the entire “scene” running in my mind as if I was watching a movie, and I do my best to describe what I see in the words of my books.

    You are very right about not knowing what to expect as I had a lot to learn when I published my first book.

    The learning never stops.

    I see a lot of writers online who finished their first draft and are rushing to self publish it by the cheapest possible method and call it “complete”. I think there is just so much wrong with that.

    As a writer, I spend most of my time revising my work, improving it, giving it to beta readers for feedback, eventually to a professional proofreader, and this is before it ever sees the shimmering light of publishing day down the tunnel.

    Completing the manuscript is great, but it’s not even half the battle if you want to produce something worthy of being called “published”

    Looking forward to more of your articles, and further discussions.

  123. Kristen,

    I just finished reading your book, for the first time. I have seen the light! Shut down my web site, scrapped everything and all plans. Thanks for turning my life upside down, or right side up I should say. No more questions floating through the head and it feels great. The journey begins and you are my guide. To say thanks falls so short of the gratitude that I feel for your help.

    Warmest Regards,

    Tom Woods

  124. Thanks for the information Kristen. I have followed your blog for awhile now, and I can say that I love the way that you just stick the truth out there. A lot of the writing websites talk about the glamorized version of writing and I love how you always put the truth out there in black and white.

    It always makes me stop and think, “Huh, I’ve been doing that all along and didn’t even realize it.” A perfect example in this blog is the fact that I do tell everyone what my day job is and I don’t point out that I’m an author first. Even though the major passion is in my writing and I’d love to be able to focus all my time on writing in the future.

    Thanks again for another post that makes me sit back and analyze what I am doing. I love it.

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