Anyone that tries to tell you that writing isn’t hard work has never written a book. You put your heart and soul into every word. Some days, the words come easy. Then other days, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to flow. Those are both natural parts of the creative process. We all have them.
Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Now, I’m sure he meant that figuratively instead of literally, but I’ve had times when it felt quite literal. I don’t think I could find a more apropos statement. Love him or hate him, Hemingway was a talented writer with a tortured soul. While his legacy might have been tarnished, his skill was unquestionable.
I hold a great deal of respect for the writers who came before us. They were breaking new ground in ways we haven’t quite attained. Entire genres wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for authors who blazed the trail. If there hadn’t been a J.R.R. Tolkien, we might never have had a George R.R. Martin. Imagine a world without the influence of Mark Twain, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle or Bram Stoker. They shaped literature for generations yet to come.
None of them had it easy or handed to them. Everything they did took hard work and dedication, and they accomplished all of that without the use of the internet or modern advertisement. They became legends without Facebook, Twitter or Snap-chat. Compared to them, we have it easy. We can reach the entire world with the click of a mouse.
That doesn’t mean we have any less work to do, though. In fact, author’s today face an almost insurmountable challenge of being recognized among the vast ocean of literature that now exists at the touch of a button. It’s just as feasible that the next J.R.R. Tolkien or George R.R. Martin could be an independent author who isn’t signed with any publisher at all. That is an amazing thought, folks. Think about that a moment and let it fully sink in.
That’s not to say that you can just turn out words on a screen and expect to surpass J.K. Rowling. The challenge is still quite real to turn out stories that are both well written and captivating. They have to be well edited and flow well. The competition is fierce, folks. We’ve got to be better than we were before. We have a lot of work to reach the level of the greats in this field.
There are huge numbers of books out there that are neither well written or well edited. Fraught with bad grammar, poor writing and typos, they fill Amazon’s pages. You can see from the reviews that the readers really tear them apart, too. Many of those books fill the free title lists. That’s just being lazy, folks. Put in the work and make your writing the best it can possibly be before you publish it. I’m not saying that you have to go the traditional publishing route, because I honestly think many independent authors are just as talented as some traditionally published ones. Hard work shows through.
If you can’t afford to hire an editor, then go over it multiple times. Have friends go over it. Hell, contact local colleges. Many literature students would work for free to get their name on the credits page because it looks good on their resume. There are entire Facebook groups where people offer their services as Beta Readers and Editors. You just have to dig. Be careful, though. Not everyone has your best interests at heart. Do your due diligence before you give anyone a copy of your manuscript.
Writing is hard work, but that’s just the beginning. After the manuscript is done there are multiple rounds of edits, proof-reading, layouts, cover art, formatting and preparation for print/upload to whatever publishing platform you’re going with, be that traditional or self-publishing.
And guess what?
Once that’s done, there’s even more work to do.
That’s right, then comes the truly difficult part. Promotion and marketing. You have to get your work in front of readers and make them want to read your work instead of literally hundreds of thousands of other titles. Titles by authors who are trying to do exactly the same thing you’re doing…succeed as an author.
Keep going and don’t give up. Nothing great ever came without hard work and perseverance. You’ll never achieve success by giving up. I know it feels like an uphill battle, but just remember, it’s the same uphill battle that literally every author in the world is facing.
Read books on marketing, talk to fans, be connected with your followers instead of just being a name on Amazon. The more you engage, the more you’ll get your name out there. I’m still working on that, myself. It’s a daily struggle to find the time to do everything I need to do. However, having said that, I’ll never give up. I don’t have any quit in me.
You’ll have days where you don’t think you’re making any progress and there will be setbacks. We all have them. The real trick is not giving in. In that way, being a writer is a metaphor for life. Just take each day and each step as you get there and never quit trying to move forward. If you’re breathing, you haven’t failed. Just keep breathing and pushing to go farther than you did yesterday. The rest will work itself out.
You will have to endure this process with each book you publish. It’s never-ending, but then again, I wouldn’t want it to be. Challenges inspire greatness. Tolkien never gave up. Asimov never gave up. Heinlein never gave up. Neither should you.
I say it all the time. Writing is a journey that we all take together. That’s right, it’s a journey, not a destination. I plan to enjoy every step of the way. Especially the difficult ones. It’s the challenge that pushes us to do more, to be more than we ever thought possible. Keep fighting and keep taking each step. The hard work will pay off in the long run.
Because the view from the top is amazing. If you get there before I do, I won’t be jealous. I’ll be inspired by your footsteps. Welcome to the journey.
The End is Only the Beginning