I may be shoveling sand against the tide here but there’s a pervasive paradigm within the writing-centric social media community that does a pretty serious disservice to aspiring writers. In short, there’s a lot of stress, importance, energy, time, and focus being put on things that aren’t primarily writing. When in reality…
The way you get better at writing is by… writing.
The way you create a strong manuscript is via writing.
The way you acquire representation is through your writing.
The way you get acquired and published is through your writing.
What makes readers want to buy and read your work is… the writing.
Man, it’s all about the writing.
All those other things only come from the writing.
That’s the place to put your focus… if you actually want to be a writer.
(I qualified that statement because there’s a subset of people who want to ‘have written,’ and/or want to ‘have had a book published,’ for some imagined perks that have nothing to do with actually loving—and improving at—the craft of writing.)
In this sort of environment, is it any wonder it’s easy for emerging writers to get distracted by all the non-writing aspects of the whole ‘being a writer’ thing?
Your attention—your focus—is like the money in your wallet… you only have so much of it, and if you want to make it to the next payday you need to think carefully about where you spend it. I see people spending lots of time/energy/focus (and angst) on non-writing things like…
Becoming ‘agented’… (Pretty sad it’s an adjective these days.)
Doing book signings…
Doing school presentations…
Speaking at conferences…
Making ‘Best of’ lists…
Hitting certain sales numbers…
These are all things a writer might do—on the periphery—but these things aren’t writing, and focusing on them won’t make you a writer.
Only writing will do that.
And—not coincidentally—the people who actually do the above things seem to be people who put the craft of writing above any sort of ego boost they might get from accomplishing those peripheral things.
And, as nice as they are, those things aren’t even close to being the best part of being a writer. Writing is the best part. By far. If you don’t love the craft of writing—without any of the supposed perks—you’re likely to be sorely disappointed if you’re trying to acquire the “writer’s lifestyle.”
So to those distracted/disappointed/depressed by all the current negativity on social around the whole subject of ‘being a writer,’ my best advice is to not waste any energy worrying about that crap and put your laser-sharp focus (and your time and your effort and your love) where it actually matters… on the craft of writing.
The goal over which you have total control (and—in an interesting karmic twist—the one most likely to get you all those peripheral things) is simply to become the best writer you can, and to write the best book you can.
This is where I write about things that are of interest to me and which I think may be of interest to you. I’m assuming most of you are here due to an interest in reading, writing, editing, publishing, etc., so that’s the primary focus.