Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lonely Life? Not as a Writer


That word looks so lonely. Every author has heard the proverbial, “Writing is the loneliest profession.”


We spend countless hours in front of the keyboard, with our imaginary and sometimes not so imaginary friends.

Think about it, if you write 750 words per hour (a decent clip, about what I average when I’m rolling) that means in the best case scenario, that’s 133 hours for a 100,000 word novel. In other words if you wrote for a solid five hours per day, it would work out to roughly 27 days—month and a week if you believe in weekends.

Is that realistic? Of course not, there’s research, the internet, life, and let’s not forget social media. Think about it, if you could discipline yourself to do nothing but type words on the computer in the form of a novel for five hours per day, your WIP could be finished in one month. Raise your hand if that’s you!

Now, before you jump down my throat, of course I realize there are revisions, editing, layout, formatting, cover art and the rest. BUT, imagine for a second, that you actually pump out a first draft in a month. Crazy, I know.

I’m rambling a bit today, this has nothing to do with the lonely writer. In a way it does, because it wouldn’t be so lonely if you could write a book a month. But, let’s cool the jets for a second and see where this all leads.

We all write—books are just one of the things that we do. I look at my career and I see that I’ve written my whole life. My first “professional” written piece was an essay on why I wanted to be the batboy for the Seattle Mariners. I won. Hmm, writing wasn’t so lonely back then.

One struggling afternoon of perfecting my 500-word essay and bam—Million Dollar Athlete’s Ya’ll. Seriously, it was anything but lonely after that. I could tell you some stories about those days. Oh, wait, that’s what we do.

In college, grad school and even post college, I was writing all the time. Mainly boring research stuff, but that thrust me into the national spotlight, presenting at conferences, doing radio and TV interviews and I even earned some coin. Definitely—not lonely.

Today, writing has evolved into a career. Yeah, I know, before you jump down my throat again, I still have my day job.

Thanks to fellow IU contributor JD Mader’s inspiration, I’ve jumped into the freelance world. I’m writing a few gigs here and there, building the portfolio. In the past month, that experience has led me to a conclusion—we have a gift. Most people can’t do what we do. I’m not saying that in a egotistical way, it’s just plain true. The masses can’t put experiences, feelings or products into the primary way we communicate, the written word.

It may not be for everyone, but if you are struggling to make ends meet, go ask your dry cleaner, day care center or doctors office, “Do you know what’s a hashtag—or a Pinterest.” There are opportunities all around us.

While I’m out working my “real” job, I’m promoting my writing and social media knowledge. Get some free business cards from VistaPrint and talk to the businesses you use every day. For a few hundred bucks, you can set up the neighborhood business with stuff they only hear about and have no idea how to go about doing.

I just finished working with a nonprofit, setting up a social media platform, the stuff we do every day, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and so on. They just ran an online donation campaign and brought in $90,000 in ONE DAY! It’s crazy.

We have the ability to touch individual’s lives—to help others. We can translate feelings or mission statements into the written word. We can create something from nothing.

Maybe my WIP isn’t as far along as I want it to be, but the alternative isn’t so bad. Just this week, Brooks and Mader each shared with me examples of where they touched someones life without even knowing. Sometimes, we don’t realize it. I can guarantee you one thing, though. If you are writing—you’re making a difference to someone.

It doesn’t feel so lonely anymore.

This post was originally published at Indies Unlimited on April 21st, 2012

1 comment:

  1. Funny - I've always been a loner, but my time as a writer has been the least lonely.