When I was a kid and people asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always said the same thing: I wanted to be a writer. And it’s something I’m still passionate about. But being a writer isn’t without it’s fair share of challenges.
So, today, I wanted to share some of what I’ve had to learn the hard way. Here are 15 things about being a writer that no one ever told me.
15 Things No One Told Me About Being a Writer
1. Writer’s block is incredibly real. And incredibly frustrating.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve googled “How to overcome writer’s block” over the years. And, while all the articles I’ve read are helpful, none of them have ever really helped.
When looking at all the strategies for writer’s block, they tend to fall into one of two categories: stop writing, and write anything.
Both are valid. Sometimes you do need to get up, take a break, walk outside, listen to music, or get out of your head. Other times, you need to just force yourself to write. It doesn’t have to be good; it just has to be.
But I’ve found that no matter what I try, it’s frustrating to feel that lack of creative juju.
2. So is Imposter Syndrome
I’ve definitely talked about imposter syndrome before. It’s that creeping sense of doubt you sometimes get. That little voice in your head saying, “You’re not good enough; you’re a fraud!”
It can happen to anyone, in any profession, and being a writer is no exception.
Related Read: Why I’m a Hypocrite: An Honest Reflection of My Blogging Journey
3. Writing can be cathartic
Journaling isn’t something that I do regularly, but when I’m stressed or upset, I tend to turn towards the page. Writing fiction, too, can be surprisingly cathartic. Because even if you’re not writing about actual things that are bothering you, you’re expressing the emotion behind them.
4. It can also be excruciating
I’ve sometimes compared writing to taking out pieces of your soul, slowly and methodically. Both because of the aforementioned emotional intensity you pour into it and because of how painful it can be when you’re hit with writer’s block.
5. Inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places
There’s writer’s block, and then there’s… the opposite. I’ve heard many names for it – hypergraphia, ideation overload, reverse writer’s block. But I just call it inspiration and it can come when you least expect it.
6. And it’s typically Feast or Famine
Sometimes, when inspiration hits, it hits hard. There’s a rush of excitement and mental energy. You can’t wait to start writing and when you do, it’s like you can’t even type fast enough. I’ve been so consumed with writing before that I’ve skipped meals. Not intentionally, mind you – I just forgot to eat.
But then there are times when you’ve got nothing. Like all your motivation and focus just – poof! – up and vanished.
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7. You spend a lot of time querying
One of my lifelong goals has been to write a book. And I actually achieved it! The feeling of accomplishment was unlike anything else – I’d spent so much time and energy writing this book. When I was finally done, I thought, “Well now the hard part’s over.”
Wrong. I was SO wrong. Because the hardest part hadn’t even begun.
So, whether you’re a freelancer or an aspiring author, here’s something no one tells you about being a writer: the work doesn’t end when the writing does.
You’ll spend a LOT of time querying agents or sending freelance pitches. In fact, it’s often more time-consuming than the actual writing.
8. There’s a lot of Rejection
OK, so this one people actually did tell me. But here’s what they didn’t tell me: it always hurts.
When you get a rejection letter from the agent you were sure would love your manuscript, it’ll feel like a knife to your heart. No matter how much you try and prepare yourself mentally.
9. Acceptance never gets old
But it’s always exciting to get something published or to hear positive feedback.
10. You’ll Obsess over Details that (Probably) Don’t Matter
There’s a famous quote by Oscar Wilde that goes something like, “This morning I took out a comma. And this afternoon, I put it back in again.”
It’s probably my favorite quote about writing because of just how damn relatable it is. Whether it’s for this blog or my fiction, I can easily obsess over the tiniest things. Even if I know it’s something as small as a comma and that no one else will notice – I can’t help it.
11. It’s never easy to kill your darlings
Which brings me to my least favorite writing expressions.
“Killing your darlings” is the act of getting rid of something in your craft that you care about. Whether it’s a character, a chapter, a paragraph, or just one sentence that you love, it’s painful. Even when you know it’ll make your overall writing better.
12. Talent isn’t Everything
Less talented people will sometimes be more successful. You might read a book/article/blog post and think, “I can write so much better than that! How’d they get published?”
And while you might not be wrong, it’ll still make you feel like an asshole.
13. You won’t be the exception
Andy Weir actually self-published The Martian first. It ended up being so successful that it was bought by a big publishing house and re-published years later. Then it went on to become an Oscar-nominated film starring Matt Damon.
It’s an unlikely story. Almost unheard of in the publishing journey, actually. An exception to the rule. But, you, unfortunately will not be the exception.
14. It’s not glamorous
You’ll look more like Carrie than Carrie Bradshaw.
15. Sometimes, you’ll hate being a writer
There will be times when you wish you were drawn to something else. Like math or science – something more logical and less creative. But you’ll find that being a writer is the only thing that really feels right.
Ah, that was a corny way to end it, I know! I just couldn’t help myself.
What are your biggest lessons about being a writer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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Impostor syndrome is the worst!
I know, right! It’s never a good feeling
I’ve spent a lot of time writing and this is all so true.
I think a lot of writers would agree! Thanks for sharing
So interesting! Thanks for sharing such informations
I always wanted to write, but being a writer is a whole other beast! This is such a relatable post. I know what you’re talking about when it comes to “killing your darlings.” I will write something that I’m sure is the essence of the piece and in editing, I have to let it go. If I really like the way the words flowed, I’ll save it to a scrap bin database to use at another time. Even though we’re writing the words, once together, they have their own life and we’re just observers.
It’s so hard to delete something that you feel proud of. Saving it is a good idea, but it still makes me sad.
So so true for all of these! Imposter syndrome – when it kicks in it’s so imperceptible, but it will get you in all of the feels and it’s so so tiring! What a brilliant article Katie x
Yes – that’s exactly how I’d describe it. It sneaks up on you and can be so exhausting to deal with.
Killing your darlings is so tough! I have a co-writer for some of my papers (I’m a researcher) and we create a document just to put the “darlings” in when we cut them. That alleviates the pressure of having to delete them, and gives us hte option of adding them back later if needed/if we can. Great post – I love to see other writers’ methods and tips. Thank you for sharing!
Wow, I love that idea! I might have to use that – creating a separate “darlings” document could definitely make the process easier. Knowing that your words are still there and can be added again at any time. Thanks for sharing that.
Yeah, true… no one mentioned to me about writers block and imposter syndrome before I started my writing journey. And no.12 is something I often question every I read a content that I believe aren’t so amazing but received a lot of likes. I always go like, “hmm… what is so special about this content? What makes readers like this content? Is writer pretty?”……
It can be really hard when you feel like you’re not getting the recognition that your peers are getting. But it’s also important to remember that you don’t know how much time and effort that person has put into their work- they might appear more successful simply because they’ve been doing it longer.
Love this!! So true.. especially accepting rejection and ‘killing your darlings’. no one wants to admit that they need to start over or totally dismantle something they’ve already created. Really good post!
Killing your darlings is probably the single biggest thing I struggle with – I hate having to delete something I’ve spent so much time on!
These are very relatable. Imposter syndrome is definitely a thing. Thank you for sharing your experience as a writer.
It’s so real and draining when it happens! Thanks for reading!
Oh yes, I can totally relate to almost all of these! Writing is HARD and although from the outside it seems like the easiest job in the world, mentally and emotionally, it can be really challenging x
So true – people definitely think it’s easier than it is in reality.
loved this post so much! i’ve always wanted to be a writer ever since i was little. and a lot of people thought, “oh isn’t that cute, well that’s a cute hobby to have. i wish people took it more seriously like other passions and professions. i read in a book that writing was like a hum..like when you have the flow going, you block everything else out and all that matters is your fingers typing or your fingers putting pen to paper. feeling in that type of zone is always a wonderful feeling.
I completely agree – there’s something so satisfying about being in the zone. But at the same time, when you feel stuck it can be incredibly distressing.
These are all so true and relatable. For writer’s block, my best tip is going on a walk. For some reason it helps me creatively.
That’s a great tip and I can see how it helps – sometimes you need to step away from your thoughts to see them more clearly
This! so true.
Glad you enjoyed!
This! “You’ll look more like Carrie than Carrie Bradshaw.”
I cracked up because this is as hilarious as it is true. Despite all the difficulties of being a writer and keeping the dreams of what success looks like to me alive, writing is also the only thing that feels right. 🙂
That’s so well said; I think every writer can relate to that sentiment.
I love how real this post is! I’ve always wanted to be a writer and am just starting out on my journey, so this was super helpful. I definitely agree that writing is cathartic and I can only imagine how amazing acceptance feels! Thank you so much for sharing x
Just remember to keep pushing when it gets difficult. Positive feedback really makes everything worth it.
I love how you’ve presented the good and the bad about being a writer. Thanks for sharing about your experience.
So glad you enjoyed! Thanks for reading
Love this post! Imposter syndrome is real, and I love this post about what it’s really like to try your hand at writing x
It’s definitely a real thing that I think a lot of writers really struggle with.