There Is No Chill Being a Writer

I’d be willing to venture a guess there are very few of us in the writing community who woke up one day at an early age and told themselves they were going to be writer.

Though I suppose it could happen right?

But it didn’t happen that way for me, and if truth be told (or admitted) I don’t think it happened that way for you folks either.

Becoming a writer in my humble/not humble opinion is an organic evolution.

For me, just like many of you, it probably started with notebooks and diaries we wrote in as children. Then we evolved to poems and stories we wrote at school. Let’s not forget all those — and then, and then — stories we wrote for our own personal pleasure.

Most of us back then, just as now, had a consummate lust for words. So much so, we read the dictionary cover to cover.

Oh that was just me?

Come on really?

The point is we’ve all been through these kinds of growth stages in our writing careers. We’ve all dreamed the dream. The one of being rich and famous after we penned the world’s greatest novel right?

For me, it was dreams of having my photo taken for the cover of my latest book. There I sat, (with hair) in all my pomp and stupidstance, wearing a tweed jacket with elbow pads, a pipe cradled in my fingertips. On the desk in front of me a cut crystal glass of scotch.

It’s quite possible you ladies who like tweed jackets, smoke pipes and drink scotch maybe shared the same dream.

Totally cool.

Or maybe your dreams were a tad different.

Who knows? Maybe some of you dreamed of wearing a sleeveless sun dress, blowing bubbles from a pipe and drinking a double, double caramel macchiato with extra foam. All this while you autographed two million copies of your latest book.

But the things none of us ever fantasized about was the hard work, the discipline, and the-smack-you-in-the-face fact if we wanted to be a writer we had to learn how to write.

Oh yeah, there is that.

Another thing we didn’t dream about was how stressful being a writer would be.

How many of you envisioned the sheer panic you’d experience when you stared at a blank screen or paper and the words won’t come?

I’m pretty sure we didn’t tell ourselves back in the day as a writer we’d stress out over the fact people were actually reading our work and then we’d stress out just as much when we discovered they weren’t.

We didn’t think about the hours, and hours, and hours of solitude sitting in front of our computers typing away or scrawling story plots with a pen until our fingers cramped.

We didn’t dream about the loneliness, the depression, the self doubt or feeling like a fraud regardless of whether or not we achieved a modicum of success.

Let’s face it folks, there is no chill being a writer.

Each and every day we’re challenged to produce. Whether by our readers or an internal fire we can’t or won’t quench.

We don’t just want to write.

We have to write.

Whether it’s to put food on the table and pay the bills, or something inside eating at us morning, noon and night. We have to write.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

I’m pretty sure you folks know what I’m talking about don’t you?

This roller coaster ride, a.k.a. life of a writer, does have at times the most thrilling, precious, wonderful, self-gratifying moments we could ever ask for.

It’s during those times we puff our chests in pride and joy.

Sometimes we (I) get a little verklempt and teary when another writer or a reader sends a little recognition our way. We get to bask in the limelight for a brief moment. Something we toiled over, spent sleepless nights working on, was widely accepted by our readers and our peers when we put it out there.

It’s a feeling so totally awesome right?

But it’s fleeting AF.

In the blink of an eye, it all slip slides away, and we’re staring at that danged white page again wondering WTF just happened.

We start to doubt ourselves again, and again, and again. We let self doubt run amok in our heads until our neurosis takes complete control. We tell ourselves we’re going to quit this crap.

We’re going to shelve this crap and settle for a real job.

And we hate ourselves for thinking like that, but at the moment we’re telling ourselves we’ve done everything we know how to do. We’ve slammed our heads against that brick wall so long we’ve nothing left.

We ask ourselves what happened to the time when everyone was reading our work?

How did it go so bad so fast?

What are we doing wrong?

As I said, there is no chill being a writer.

There is only sitting down and doing the work.

Even though you hate the way you feel right now.

Even though right now you don’t give AF.

Write something, anything. Start with a laundry list if you must. Heck, write a story about writing a laundry list.

Hmm. Now there’s an idea.

So yeah, the dream in my head back then certainly doesn’t match the reality of my today, but here’s how I look at it folks. If I hadn’t had those glorious dreams way back then would I be sitting at my computer writing this piece now?

Would I be wishing and hoping another writer will read this and understand the message?

Would I be laughing (or crying depending on what bills are due) at my pitiable royalty checks and meager writing income and telling myself to soldier on?

Probably not.

And I would have gone to my grave never having had some of the best times of my life.

Yes, there is no chill being a writer folks so prepare for it and let the crap wash over you. Suck in a deep breath and cast the demons out for a bit.

For sure, they’ll be back soon enough.

Until then, finish writing your next story.

Peace Out,

P.G.

Let’s keep in touch: paul@pgbarnett.com

Written by

A published author enjoying married Texas bliss. Dog person living with cats. A writer of Henry James' stories. Featured In MuckRack. Top Writer In Fiction.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store