Reasons Why Writers Fail
Opening up an Ugly Can of Worms
Now I’ve done it. Now I’ve decided to write an article about the topic no writer wants to read about. Talk about a recipe for failure. What was I thinking when I decided this article would be a good idea?
Well, it’s too late to turn back now. You’ve already read the title so that cow has officially left the barn. I might as well trudge forward and shoot you with both barrels.
What do I hope to accomplish with this article? Well, let’s call it a bit of reverse psychology. Let’s call it a tongue-in-cheek attempt to make you realize that writing is not for everyone. Hell, if it doesn’t go well, let’s call it a career-killer for yours truly.
The fact of the matter is that yearly millions of writer wannabes fail miserably. Add to that the number of writers who become disillusioned at their lack of success and then rush to a therapist to deal with their inadequacy issues. In my own way I am trying to decrease those numbers and increase success in the writing world. Therapists will not be happy with this article because there will be a decrease in business for them, but that’s just too bad now isn’t it? Perhaps they should read my follow-up article “Why Therapists Fail” coming soon to medical journals everywhere.
Shall we begin? Let’s take a look at the main reasons why so many writers crash and burn on their way to fantasized glory and fame. We’ll start with the most obvious reason.
They Don’t Have the Skills
How’s that for a slap across the face? How’s that for a bucket of cold water over the head?
I know, I know, your mother thinks you are a fantastic writer. Your fifth grade teacher gave you a gold star for your poem. Your husband tells you all the time how much he loves your work.
None of those experiences mean a thing in the real world of writing.
Anyone can write! Well, that is true. Anyone capable of sitting down at a computer and hunting and pecking their way through 500 words can, indeed, write….but….not everyone can write well. I can teach Joe Bob in rural Alabama how to write a simple declarative sentence, but there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I can teach Joe Bob how to write a sentence that sounds like a symphony. His idea of a symphony is listening to “Free Bird” while changing the carburetor in his ’89 Ford F-Series. There is no hope for Joe Bob!
Thoughts on screenwriting
They Have No Clue What It Takes
Here we go again. Anyone can write a novel. True statement! If you want proof then just browse through the Kindle library of ebooks. However, not everyone can write an engaging and fascinating novel. To do that it literally takes months if not years of dedication.
Anyone can get published in a magazine! No way no how! Monthly magazine editors reject query letters from writers who have game but lack that certain something that it takes to get published in a magazine.
Anyone can make a living as a freelance writer! Again, no way no how! You have to have a command of language. You have to have the fortitude and determination to write eight to ten hours each day. You have to have thick skin to fortify and protect you from the rejections that are sure to come.
Anyone can make a living as a writer if they have the skills! Well, no they can’t! Steinbeck didn’t make a dime for three years. How’s that for a reality check?
They Are Not Prepared for the Solitude
I have said this before and I’ll say it many times in the future: writing is a lonely profession. I spend ten hours each day inside my own head. Talk about a ride through a house of horrors; it’s amazing I finish each day without the aid of valium.
A professional writer does not rub shoulders with fellow workers. There is no gathering around the water cooler to discuss the latest fashion trends or sports. There is no group hug at the end of a tough day, and chances are your family will not have a clue what you have done or why you do it. If you are looking for empathy and compassion from non-writers then think again because they don’t understand.
To make it as a writer one better be prepared for long hours of babbling to oneself. To make it as a writer be prepared to be your own best friend and worst enemy.
Dealing with criticism
They Do Not Have a Schedule or Plan
Whether you write blogs for income, or you are a magazine writer, or you write ebooks or whatever, you need to have a schedule and a plan. If your writing is your business then it needs to be treated as such.
When my next door neighbor goes to work he leaves the house and heads to his office. He does his office duties. He takes care of work for eight hours and then comes home to his family. During those eight hours at work he actually works on his business matters. He does not run personal errands. He does not talk to friends on the phone. He does not read travel magazines and plan his next vacation. He works! He is at work from nine to five and he eliminates distractions while he works.
A writer must do the same thing.
Do you have a plan? Do you know what you want to do, and have you mapped out a strategy for meeting your goals? If not you are just the proverbial ship without a rudder. Passion will only take your ship so far, but without a plan you can pretty much count on scraping bottom on a sandbar at some point.
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Do You Become Discouraged Easily?
Well if so, get the heck out of this profession. Rejection is a way of life for writers. If you think you can avoid it then please market whatever it is you are inhaling because I want some of it.
We are either rejected by publishers or we are rejected by agents. We are either rejected by the reading public or rejected by our pets as we read to them. One way or another you are going to be rejected…..
And this might be worse than being rejected….we are simply insignificant in the world of writing. We write and nobody reads. We spend days, weeks, months crafting what we believe to be the perfect article and it goes absolutely nowhere. We write for content mills for days on end and have enough money at the end of the month to buy a hot mocha.
Don’t quit your day job. You may find it to be a much better job than you once imagined.
They Fail to Realize the Importance of Networking
I have seen this so often over the past few years. People sign up on some site and they write their articles, then they post them on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and then sit back and wait for the dollars to flow their way…..and they are still waiting.
That, my friends, is not networking.
Networking is forming relationships with other writers. Networking is forming relationships with agents. Networking is forming relationships with publishers and editors, and networking is becoming actively involved in workshops, seminars and other avenues available to every writer. There is a world of opportunities out there for you, and if you do not avail yourself of them then find a nice, comfortable chair to relax in as you wait for that money that will never flow your way.
Do you have what it takes to be a successful writer?
I Could Go on but That’s Enough to Get You Started
There is one exception to this article. There is one type of writer out there who needs not concern themselves with all of this, and that writer is the one who simply writes because they have a passion for writing. God bless you if you are such a writer. You are not writing for the income. You are not writing for the recognition or possible fame. You write because it is something you love to do, and I would say to you that the world needs more like you so please, keep writing.
For the rest of you, though, go back over this article and see if you see yourself in it. The journey from “writer wannabe” to writer is a tough road but it is doable.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”