Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

What it Really Means to be a Writer (The Truth, No More BS!)

If you’re not willing to suffer through hours, days, weeks and yes, even months of not being able to write anything useable, then I’ve got some shocking news for you, writing isn’t for you.

What is your passion?

Writing isn’t all about glory.

Want-to-be-writers (and I call them want-to-be’s for a reason) tell me all the time about the great books they have in them, how many people are going to want their autographs, and the blockbuster movies that will be made from their work.

It’s going to be absolutely, deliriously, glorious, they say. But it’s BS.

Sure, those things might happen and praise be to those who actually get to live such a dream. But let’s be clear, it’s a dream and dreams like that don’t happen unless you’re willing to suffer for them.

Suffer? What the hell are you talking about, Bryan? I said it’s going to be glorious. I didn’t say anything about suffering!

Exactly.

Tell me what you are willing to suffer for and I’ll tell you your passion. (Click to Tweet)

Don’t get me wrong, I had the wondrous dream about raving positive reviews from critics, too. They’d state my work is the best ever written. And I mean, ever. They’d blow sunshine up my you-know-what and it would come out of my eyes and ears. Heck, I’d sneeze glitter.

Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big. (You can tweet that too, if you like.)

However, the reality is a bit different than that and I’m okay with it. I’m fortunate to have gotten some great reviews, but I also know what it feels like to get stung with one star reviews and receive hate emails telling me my writing is the worst ever. And they do mean, ever.

Oh, how it burns.

Dreaming about the glory is one thing, but what are you willing to struggle through to get it? What are you willing to fail at?

Those are most important questions you will ever ask yourself about your dream. If you’re not willing to struggle and endure the pain of failure, then do something else.

What’s worth the pain? What’s worth the tears? What’s worth people tearing down your best efforts just so they can feel better about themselves? Yeah, I said it. More importantly, though, I’m asking it.

What’s worth it? What’s really worth it to you? Be honest.

Are you willing to sit in front of a computer from 5am until 6pm and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a paragraph, nay, just a sentence that is salvageable?

If writing truly is your passion then that mere sentence is the holy grail of what we do.

5am until 6pm? That’s nothing. Try midnight. We’ll pay the price, time and time again.

Yeah, writers like you and me, we’re weird because we are willing to sit and sit and sit, until the words finally come. And if they don’t come? Well, we’ll sit there again tomorrow and the day after that. Whatever it takes and however long it takes. Every time.

That’s reality. And if that makes us weird, so be it.

It’s better than chasing a dream that you’re not even willing to struggle for.

If you’re not willing to get calluses on your fingers from learning to play the guitar then don’t bother trying to realize the dream of playing lead guitar in a rock and roll band. You’re wasting everyone’s time. Dream it. That’s okay, but call it what it is, just a dream and leave it at that.

A dream that you’re willing to work for no matter what it takes, that, my friend, is your passion.

If you have a dream that you are willing to get calluses for, to do the work, to struggle, to fail, and to maybe, just maybe, mind you, succeed eventually, then you’re on to something. You’ll get up early for that dream. You’ll bleed tears for that dream.

It’s passion. That’s what it’s all about.

Never begrudge the hard work you do working for your passion. Let the naysayers say you are wasting your time, your energy, even your life, but not you – no, not you.

You know, we’re a funny bunch, we writers. I receive emails on a regular basis from writers in the trenches overwhelmed with doubt. They want to know how they can rid themselves of anxiety and just write a few words that will mean something.

Well, you know what, friends? You are a writer because you are willing to do whatever it damn well takes.

YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LET ANYTHING STAND IN YOUR WAY

Not even something as devastatingly cruel as Writer’s Doubt.

That’s what writers do. We endure and thrive because we continue to strive despite fear and doubt.

Yeah, I’ll say it, you’re a badass!

You’re a writer.

You…

Struggle. And do the work.

Get rejected. And do more work.

Feel the fear. And work even more.

Tremble with anxiety from doubt. And again, you press on and do the work.

Who does that?

A writer does that. If that’s not badass I don’t know what is.

Writers are badass! (I dare you to tweet that.)

You’re in the game!

Will you ever write a bestseller? You might. And if you don’t? Keep going, keep writing, keep batting, and your next at bat might be your homerun.

But think about it, living your passion is the furthest homerun you’ll ever hit.

It’s the struggles we live for that define our true passion. Never resent or regret them.

Instead, keep doing what writers do, embrace your struggles and get back to work. That’s what it means to be a writer, minus all the BS.

Are you in? Share in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins
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  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Oh my Oh my Oh my – THIS is the BEST Writer’s MANIFESTO EVER! LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    Thanks Bryan… #HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    I am printing this out and sticking it to my partially-empty vision board 😀

  • You hit on the major truth of being a writer–you have to DO it. Not talk about it, but write. And this takes courage and fortitude and a willingness for long hours and days and weeks and months and years of keeping at it.
    I’m laughing too–all folks need to know is that I’m an author and/or a book editor, and they tell me (literally every day) of this most fabulous idea for a book ever! And often with the caveat: “You write it and we’ll split the proceeds!”
    I can SO relate to the reviews part of this as well. My novel came out last month (a bit of shameless promotion. Forgive me!), to mostly stellar reviews. But one guy trashed it. And in the end blamed me for the demise of literature in the Western World. It was so bad I was laughing.
    Then I saw his title: “Don’t believe the hype.” And I was like, Wait! There’s hype?
    It’s the little things that help to propel us on 🙂
    Thank you for this Bryan! You nailed it.

  • Miriam N

    Yes. That’s what it is to be a writer. You hit it right on the nail. Thanks for that. Its exactly what i needed to hear today

  • Hmmm, never thought of myself as a badass….but I’ll accept the title! Thanks!

  • Beth Armstrong

    Been there and done that, over and over and over and over again, but I will continue. That is who I am and that is what I love. Thank you for being the one that finally tells the truth. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. It’s me. I can’t stand not to write. Have I written 10 chapters before and scrapped every single one of them. YES. Have I written something that I thought was perfect and was told differently? YES, but I didn’t quit, nor do I plan to. This article is exactly what it is to be a writer!

  • Rafael Guber

    But even the bad stuff eventually makes your good stuff into even better stuff. none of it is a waste. I remember feeling glorious when I realized that something I would have thought was wonderful was actually terrible. It meant that I had made progress.

    • So true, Rafael. I agree. That’s an important part of the struggle – getting your calluses, if you will.

  • Katharine

    How timely for me. I just finished enduring an author tearing me down, to make self feel better about self. This essay is what I needed, like a shot in the arm. Thanks for the new motto: I’m living my passion, keeping on doing what writers do. Yep.

    • Sorry to hear about that, Katharine. But I’m glad to hear you’re pressing on and continuing to write!

      • Katharine

        Thanks, Bryan.
        This post opens the door to such a difference in my response to this person. Actually, it stopped me from reacting (inside) and has caused me to see how important it is to respond, to be proactive, to live unfettered by someone else’s troubled psyche. I shall still hurt FOR her, but have stopped hurting BECAUSE OF her.
        Thanks, again!

    • So sorry to hear that you’ve been torn down by another writer – I don’t understand why people do that, but your summary that it was done to make them feel better about themselves shows that (in my humble opinion) you have what it takes – determination. Constructive feedback is one thing – making someone feel bad about what they’ve written is always bad news, and reflects more on the giver than the receiver…. glad you’ve not been deterred!

      • Katharine

        I don’t get it, either, EJ. I think I threaten her, somehow. I’m always trying to boost her agenda, give her free recommendation, etc., but she somehow takes everything I say the wrong way. My husband says she is just NOT a friend. 😉 I think she has been through a lot of stress, lately, though. Her husband died a couple of years ago, and she was feeling forced to change publishers and agents…all that can work on a gal.
        Also, she and I write two very different genres and although I respect her, I just do not prefer to read much of what she rights. I think it hurts her feelings? Who knows.
        Still, it is hard to be yelled at in public!

  • J Eliot Mason

    This was awesome! A great example of why I freak’n love this blog.

  • Ken Hughes

    Writing’s pretty much a tautology. We’re people who spend hours and hours locked in a room with our dreams… so we can spend hours locked in a room with our dreams. We wake up in the morning and say “YES! I get to write about how ballistas work against dragon attacks; my day is complete!” Everything else is secondary.

  • Yes! Yes! Yes! Passion is everything! Thank you for this – timely and motivating!

  • This is exactly why my blogs about writing are, at best, sporadic. Because, much as I love talking about writing with other writers – especially when I get great new insights that help me to write even better- I love actually writing even more! Passion is a good word – I can’t imagine giving up writing now.

  • Dave Nelson

    I have written so much unusable stuff, it hurts. Short stories. Whole novels. But they’ve made me a better writer, and. I’m still working at it — Dave Emanuel (dadswithoutballs.com)