Writing is one of the most satisfying and fulfilling things you can do in life (I'm biased, I know). But it is also one of the most soul-crushing, heartbreaking careers you can choose. For those thinking of becoming writers, tread carefully. It is not for the fainthearted. Here are some of the struggles I still face 6 years after starting my writing journey.
1- When people think what you're doing is a hobby
When I tell people I write, the response tends to be:
'How nice...so you're keeping busy at home.'
I know they mean well, but the implication here is that my writing isn't something serious or it's just a hobby. When I was teaching, no one told me: 'Mashalla Alwia you're keeping busy.'
That being said, I'm definitely 'keeping busy.' Just look at the bags under my eyes.
Hobbies don't do this to you love.
A hobby is what you do when you want to forget about work for a while. When your 'hobby' takes over your life, it's not a hobby anymore sweetheart.
So no, my writing isn't a hobby. It's not even a full-time job.
It's a bloody way of life.
2- When people assume you have a lot of free time
When you're your own boss, people tend to assume that you have lots of flexible and 'free' time.
To these people I say:
Try writing one sentence with a toddler clinging to you.
3- Impostor Syndrome
Yup, this is a real thing folks. Despite having written several articles for two magazines, many more for my blog, completed a novel and four short stories, I still find it difficult to refer to myself as a writer/author. Initially, I used think this was due to a lack of confidence until I realized that even bestselling authors don't feel like they're 'real' authors. It seems to be a universal issue but it's especially hard on us writers who have not had their books published yet.
4- Making digital friends
Dear God it was difficult enough to befriend real people at school. Now...now I have to go through the same awkward process but with digital versions of people on social media. Most of the times I feel like such a beg friend.
Rejection is a given when you're a writer and with time it does get easier. But you'll be amazed at the different ways you can get rejected as a writer:
a- when no one reads your work.
b- when no one likes or shares your work.
c- when people don't follow you back on social media or interact with your content,
I sound super petty I know. But the thing is, when you're already being rejected by agents, magazines, competitions, these small gestures mean a lot. I know I'm not just speaking for myself when I say that supportive readers can break or make a writer. Hearing one reader say they love my work gives me motivation to push on writing for a long time. We can't be writers if no one reads our work and to be honest, this scares me.
6- Speaking a lot but no one listens
As a writer, a lot of times it feels like you're screaming in a crowded room and no one is listening. It's heartbreaking to feel that no one cares about what you have to say- especially when you're putting so much effort to create content people will love. This is the reality of being a writer. You will have to write a lot, work a lot until people start to pay attention. In fact, you MAKE them pay attention.
7- Wearing a thousand hats
I'm a writer therefore my job is to write, right?
I had to learn the hard way that writers need to wear many hats to be successful. If you're in the business of selling your stories you need to be able to market yourself, build an author platform, have a social media presence, network with other writers, draw attention to yourself by blogging, vlogging, podcasting. Basically, you need to put yourself out there, and putting yourself out there forces you to be vulnerable in difficult situations.
8- Lack of validation and recognition
I talked about this one in a previous post, but I'll say it again:
Writing without getting any money or recognition out of it is really tough. I wouldn't have lasted these last 6 years if it weren't for the fact that writing is my passion. If it isn't yours, spare yourself the heartache my friend and pick a different career.
You'll thank me later.