Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Recently, I was at a schmooze and was informed that behind acting, writing is the second most competitive field. As an unpublished writer, this was not exciting news. 

Years ago when I set out to pursue a career as a writer, a dream I've had since elementary school, I never imagined such stiff competition but alas, it is what it is. I'm sure the mega-successes of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Divergent series has many weekend writers dusting off those old manuscripts and practicing their acceptance speeches. But what most burgeoning writers, present company included, don't realize is that good writing is hard work that requires imagination and passion—and then more hard work. Yes, anyone can get the words down on the page, but a good writer not only gets them on the page, they make you feel like every word on that page belongs on that page, in that exact place, as does all the words before it and all the words after it. They make you feel like you are a part of the story, living and breathing every moment with the characters. They make you forget the trials and tribulations of your life and allow you to go on an adventure that when it's over, you long for more. They do all that and they make it look easy, hence the over-crowding of a field that is anything but easy. 

As a writer, and lover of the written word, I encourage every one who dreams of being a writer to pursue that dream, however, before you do, I recommend  you heed the advice of these great authors— because writing isn't for cowards.
  1. If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. Dorothy Parker   
  2. I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.Harper Lee   
  3. If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.William Zinsser  
  4. You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.Jack London
  5. The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement – if you can't deal with this you needn't apply.Will Self
  6. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King 
  7. You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.Will Self 
  8. The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’Helen Simpson
If you still want to write after reading the above advice, pat yourself on the back, and take this bit of advice from Neil Gaiman,

Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that — but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman

Are you a writer? What was the catalyst that pushed you forward? Did you know writing was as crowded a field as acting? Have you finished your acceptance speech?


Angela Verges said...

Well said.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Go after it with a club. That's good.
I think anything artistic makes for stiff competition, including artists, photographers, and the like.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Yes, I'm a writer. Twilight and Stephenie Meyer's publishing story was the catalyst for me. I'm glad I went for it, too. Found the passion I'd been looking for.

I've learned there is competition for ANYTHING, even when I was a cost accountant looking for a job--there are only so many jobs and too many cost accountants. Yeah, it will take awhile for me to get noticed, but I'm getting there and I'm not giving up. Because writing is WAY more fun than cost accounting! :)

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

I wouldn't be surprise if there are more writers than actors.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Those quotes are no less amusing for being true. Glad you ended with Gaiman's.

S.P. Bowers said...

Shut up and get on with it. Love it! I had heard that writing was the second most competitive job. It's easy to believe. I haven't written an acceptance speech, but I have started my acknowledgements for when I get published.

Chrys Fey said...

A ton of writers came out of the woodwork after first J.K. Rowling's success and then Stephenie Meyers's success. But expecting that success isn't realistic. Unfortunately.

I love the quotes you shared. :)

LD Masterson said...

I've seen a couple of these before but I really like Jack London's quote. That says it all.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Thank you, Angela. I wish I could take credit for all the quotes, too.

You're right, Alex. I might need a bigger club.

Stacy, I agree with you. But I'm not the math type, so to me, anything is more fun than cost accounting.

You could be on to something there,Southpaw,

I write middle grade, Susan, where it's necessary to end on a positive. :=)

Plotting ahead, S.P., like a good writer.

Chris, which is what's got this field so crowded. Glad you enjoyed the quotes

Ha! L.D., yes it does.

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