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Crap someone should have told you writers by now

Sometimes, you don’t need preamble. Sometimes, you need someone to give it to you straight.

Hi. *waves*

This is for every writer on this whacked out planet.

• Your early work will suck.

• Your later work, in its early drafts, will still suck.

• No one cares about your writing unless you’re at (or near) the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

• Seriously. You could win the Pulitzer in literature and your friends would be, like, “Yeah, she’s writing or something boring like that. What a waste of time.

• You cannot please everyone.

• YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE.

• So don’t try.

• Write for yourself. Failing that, write for one person.

• Listening to ten other people means ten extra people in your head when you write.

• That will fuck you up faster than a Sarah Palin gaffe.

• Example: Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers, Palin said at a Tea Party rally in Iowa, on Sept. 3, 2011.

• Polls are actually for finding out what people think about stuff. Which is your job as a writer.

• Because truly great novels, odes, short stories and even songs show what is happening around them.

• It’s worth repeating: Before you’re great, you will suck.

• You will latch onto words or phrases and repeat them throughout your work.

• The words and phrases you repeat will change over time.

• The habit of repeating shit will not.

• You may never feel good about what you write.

• Write anyway.

• It’s better to lack confidence. Shitty writers always think they’re great.

• Never let anyone tell you to stop doing what you love.

• EVER.

• The only “equipment” you need is a writing implement.

• Pen is nice because you can write on your body if you can’t find paper.

• Pencil is nice because it works in any weather and never runs out of ink.

• You will never have time to write.

• If you’re a writer, that won’t stop you.

• We all crave validation.

• You may or may not get it.

• Write anyway.

• You need an editor.

• If you are an editor, you definitely need an editor.

• At the beginning, being edited hurts more than childbirth.

• No really. I’ve had two kids.

• After a couple months, being edited will feel more like a mosquito bite.

• Not in the sense that you forget how painful it was. (That only applies to childbirth.)

• But you will feel less protective of your words after you build a relationship with your editor and realize he has your best interests in mind.

• You’ll find out who your real friends are as soon as you publish your first book.

• Don’t work with a coach, editor, publisher or anyone else without a contract.

• Read the fucking contract and understand it before you sign it.

• You’re worth more than you may ever realize.

• Your story could save someone else.

• It happens all the time.

• That’s what they mean when they say, “You could change the world with your writing.”

• You will not get rich writing.

• Write anyway.

• Because what you may lack in cash flow you will more than make up for in enrichment and mojo.

• Writing helps us make sense of our world.

• If we didn’t do it, we’d probably completely lose it.

• Most of us are on the edge already.

• We have to be in order to do a job that doesn’t pay, won’t make us famous and, oh yeah, is among the most difficult.

I’m not kidding.

***

51 replies
  1. sherpeace
    sherpeace says:

    About the contract comment. The editor I have been communicating with does not have contracts and she is working 16 hr. days either writing or editing. She had put me ahead in her queue, but when I told her my intentions and how many pages my ms was, she said “Keep working. I will take you out of the queue for now.” In other words, I trust her.
    Do I still need a contract even though she has worked with hundreds of writers without one?

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth Ellen Carter
    Elizabeth Ellen Carter says:

    Great piece – straight to the point and I’ll even forgive the Sarah Palin gibe because you’ve made a gaffe with your ‘gaff’ 😉

    An unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator; a blunder: “an unforgivable social gaffe.”

    Reply
  3. Crazy Mama
    Crazy Mama says:

    Needed this lately so Thank You, except I’m having a hosted post edited for the first time and now I’ve literally got butterflies! If this hurts more than childbirth I’m going to die! At least I’m prepared 🙂

    Reply
  4. Palessa
    Palessa says:

    I write for me. It’s a calling and I made a promise to myself that if I didn’t feel at least 70%-80% good about it, I’d fix it until I did. I hear that voice all the time. I don’t read my reviews. I don’t just rely on the publisher to get the word out. There are better writers than me. I write anyway so THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!

    Reply
  5. Sonia
    Sonia says:

    Great list. Although, “You’ll find out who your real friends are as soon as you publish your first book,” I found out who they were while writing my first book!

    Reply
  6. Pasha
    Pasha says:

    Thank you for this article. I am sometimes on the edge of quitting when no one gives importance to your words. You’re right. Write for yourself.

    Reply
  7. Christin
    Christin says:

    Best writing article I’ve ever read. I’m currently working on my first novel, and although I’ve received good comments so far I haven’t been able to finish it. I needed this inspiration. “You will never have time to write.” SOOOO true!
    Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Kimberley
    Kimberley says:

    This is all brilliant advice! I wrote my first draft of my first novel and a writer friend, who *cough* knows what she’s talking about, ripped me a (literary) new one. I’m eternally grateful to her. It wasn’t quite as difficult as shoving two babies out of my hooha, but pretty close. I like to think of myself as a confident writer, but not an arrogant one, so yeah, I’m gonna get the beta-read right out of me! Kim x

    Reply
  9. Lev Raphael
    Lev Raphael says:

    What does that mean, You will never have time to write? I’ve always had time to write, since college. And also time to not write, to take time off. If you’re a born writer, how can you not have time?

    Reply
    • tu
      tu says:

      There are lots of reasons why born writers don’t have time to write. Often it relates to life’s stages and having to look after someone else.

      Reply
      • tu
        tu says:

        Oops, pressed send too soon — I was going to add, if you do have time to write, dig in and enjoy it to the max, and be as prolific and as experimental (and as dogged) as you dare, because creating a solid base of work while you can is a very helpful prop for those later days when something else might compete for your time. My advice to anyone who has time to write is to really enjoy it.

        Reply
  10. Donella
    Donella says:

    I am a proof reader, have just started out…..I have 1(one) writer so far how do I get more? where do I go? any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    Reply
  11. Rocket J. Squirrel
    Rocket J. Squirrel says:

    This could have been a great article but for the unnecessary vulgarity and jab at Sarah Palin. I almost bought a poster of this too. Thanks for saving me some cash.

    Reply
  12. Brent
    Brent says:

    I like what you wrote. But only three books since 1985? Ok, maybe I’m a bad writer but I’ve published 5 since May, have two more to release before October (to be fair someone these were written between 2-6 years ago), have 33 concepts and partial books and I’m currently working on a series of thirteen in the same genre. Now the first comment will be my sentences are too long… good point! But this is not a novel.
    I look forward to following your suggestions on this site. We can all improve regardless of age, experience or previous accomplishments. But I’m just a newbie.

    Reply
    • Rebecca T. Dickson
      Rebecca T. Dickson says:

      When I fell in love with writing – in 1985 – I was 12. Since choosing to write and not make excuses – circa 2012 – I’ve published three books. Working on number four now. Quality. Never quantity. xo

      Reply
  13. Samuel Vain
    Samuel Vain says:

    NOT PULLING LANGUAGE PUNCHES, WARNING
    his was fucking awesome stuff Rebecca! I loved it and have found so much on my path to back your points. If I had found this 1.5 yrs ago i would have made my path much easier!

    Reply
  14. Lockie Young
    Lockie Young says:

    Hi Rebecca

    Bullet form? Perfect design to shoot straight and from the hip. I couldn’t disagree with any of your points…not one. I’m newly published as of December 2013, but I’ve been writing for more than 20 years. Until I was published I wrote for fun, to amuse myself because it is fun, and because there was this little guy in my head that insisted I write ‘this crap’ down. So I really had no choice. So to find out that I wouldn’t be able to support myself as a fiction writer came as no surprise to me. In retirement now I have the freedom to write whenever the little guy gets his whip out, but I did look into internet work. Yes, a person can write copy via the internet, and make a living at that from the comfort of your own home, but that would be work. I don’t want my writing to be like work. Work comes when or if I am accepted for publication. Then the edits are work, but other than that I don’t have deadlines yet. I’m not famous like Steven King, but then, I don’t need that fame because I still write for me first. IF I decide to share the work, then the reader can take a look and say Yay or Nay. The trick is to use the Nay’s to improve your fun.

    Reply

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