That word looks so lonely. Every author has heard the proverbial, “Writing is the loneliest profession.”
We spend countless hours in front of the keyboard, with our imaginary and sometimes not so imaginary friends.
Think about it, if you write 750 words per hour (a decent clip, about what I average when I’m rolling) that means in the best case scenario, that’s 133 hours for a 100,000 word novel. In other words if you wrote for a solid five hours per day, it would work out to roughly 27 days—month and a week if you believe in weekends.
Is that realistic? Of course not, there’s research, the internet, life, and let’s not forget social media. Think about it, if you could discipline yourself to do nothing but type words on the computer in the form of a novel for five hours per day, your WIP could be finished in one month. Raise your hand if that’s you!
Now, before you jump down my throat, of course I realize there are revisions, editing, layout, formatting, cover art and the rest. BUT, imagine for a second, that you actually pump out a first draft in a month. Crazy, I know.
I’m rambling a bit today, this has nothing to do with the lonely writer. In a way it does, because it wouldn’t be so lonely if you could write a book a month. But, let’s cool the jets for a second and see where this all leads.
We all write—books are just one of the things that we do. I look at my career and I see that I’ve written my whole life. My first “professional” written piece was an essay on why I wanted to be the batboy for the Seattle Mariners. I won. Hmm, writing wasn’t so lonely back then.
One struggling afternoon of perfecting my 500-word essay and bam—Million Dollar Athlete’s Ya’ll. Seriously, it was anything but lonely after that. I could tell you some stories about those days. Oh, wait, that’s what we do.
In college, grad school and even post college, I was writing all the time. Mainly boring research stuff, but that thrust me into the national spotlight, presenting at conferences, doing radio and TV interviews and I even earned some coin. Definitely—not lonely.
Today, writing has evolved into a career. Yeah, I know, before you jump down my throat again, I still have my day job.
Thanks to fellow IU contributor JD Mader’s inspiration, I’ve jumped into the freelance world. I’m writing a few gigs here and there, building the portfolio. In the past month, that experience has led me to a conclusion—we have a gift. Most people can’t do what we do. I’m not saying that in a egotistical way, it’s just plain true. The masses can’t put experiences, feelings or products into the primary way we communicate, the written word.
It may not be for everyone, but if you are struggling to make ends meet, go ask your dry cleaner, day care center or doctors office, “Do you know what’s a hashtag—or a Pinterest.” There are opportunities all around us.
While I’m out working my “real” job, I’m promoting my writing and social media knowledge. Get some free business cards from VistaPrint and talk to the businesses you use every day. For a few hundred bucks, you can set up the neighborhood business with stuff they only hear about and have no idea how to go about doing.
I just finished working with a nonprofit, setting up a social media platform, the stuff we do every day, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and so on. They just ran an online donation campaign and brought in $90,000 in ONE DAY! It’s crazy.
We have the ability to touch individual’s lives—to help others. We can translate feelings or mission statements into the written word. We can create something from nothing.
Maybe my WIP isn’t as far along as I want it to be, but the alternative isn’t so bad. Just this week, Brooks and Mader each shared with me examples of where they touched someones life without even knowing. Sometimes, we don’t realize it. I can guarantee you one thing, though. If you are writing—you’re making a difference to someone.
It doesn’t feel so lonely anymore.
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Jim Devitt is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and the author of the #1 Kindle Bestselling novel, THE CARD, For more information, please see the IU bio page or his blog: http://jimdevitt.blogspot.com/
18 thoughts on “A Matter of Perspective”
Good post, Jim. Funny thing, I have never, as a writer or in any other capacity, been a lonely type. I enjoy being alone. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy being with people. I suppose that comes from being an only child, and a shy one, and having to amuse myself a great deal of the time. And I have enough writing friends, now online, as well as offline to keep from feeling isolated in what I do.
The shortest time I took writing a book was 2 months. That was several years ago. I can't remember if it was my Graveyard of Dreams book or the book of short fictional stories. If the former, I am just now finishing it off for self-pub. (I may even submit it to a contest – prize of free publishing.) If the latter, it has been sitting for a very long time in a drawer waiting for further editing.
I sent off a book proposal via e-mail to a publisher on Monday (this week). By Wednesday I had a return e-mail saying he would be happy to take a look at it. So, first things first. Someday I'll get around to the other 10 or so manuscripts that haven't been edited yet. Maybe someday some of them will even be published. I had better get on with it, though. I'm nearly 67 and don't have the biggest chunk of my life left to do it in. 🙂
Diane, I agree. I have never felt alone either. I think that was one of the points to the post. More importantly, I think we can really touch peoples lives with what we do.
It's all about keeping perspective, not an easy thing to do for most of us. Good post. Thanks.
Thanks for the kind words Yvonne. You are so right about perspective. The biggest thing is that we are doing things that we don't even realize.
Great post Jim. One observation of a personal note…
I love my family, but like Diane the hours that I spend alone mean the world to me. The alone time is a necessity, whether it’s writing or just relaxing. Besides, the voices in my head always keep me company.
You nailed it Rush,
There's a difference between "alone time" and "lonely".
If we didn't have "alone time" we wouldn't be writers.
I'm with you on that.
I think we make a difference when we speak our truth.
Because then we also speak someone else’s truth.
That’s how inter-connected we are.
And how good does it feel to be genuinely understood and applauded for it? The best!
Wow, you just said it so much better than I did.
And for those of us with our "paws" in other things, we don't live such a lonely life. I farm, write, and offer a publishing consulting business where I format books and do covers. It's nothing to spend an hour on the phone with a client going through a manuscript to make sure it looks good before going to print. And we don't just talk shop of course! We talk about the weather, computers, current events, all sorts of stuff. So for me, living in the middle of nowhere isn't bad. I got Facebook, email, phone, Skype, the works. Staying connected in this business is paramount.
Writing is only lonely if you really let it be. And my characters and pets always keep me company–especially if I have the wood stove fired up on a cold day.
You make a great point and it's when were spending that time with the clients that you realize the difference that you are making.
My daughter used to say, "Mom, get a life!" I worked 10-12 hrs a day and came home to ENJOY not answering a phone or doing what I HAD to do and BEING ALONE. Like Diane, I was an only child (well, not completely…I had a brother who was a Siamese cat) and spent most of my non-alone time in the company of adults.
Not everyone can enjoy being alone. I do. I also enjoy talking to folks on the computer where I'm not expected to get out of my PJs or comb my hair (hum, perhaps I've said too much). When I get lonesome I head for Starbucks and writer amongst the chaos of Target customers coming in for their caffeine hit and that lovely background music that I don't hear constantly on the car radio. I stop for a Papa Murphy's pizza on the way home–where BIG cat and LITTLE dog greet me–and I'm glad to be alone again accompanied by the voices in my head telling me what to write next.
(By the way, I've avoided Skype so far…that PJ and hair thing.)
Well said, Linda.
I also like being alone, not all the time but its necessary in what we do and if you can't enjoy that time, then we should find a different career.
Thanks Jim. You make a good point. For those who can write well, it is often a shock to remember that some people just can't. But I can't fix an engine. I think you're dead right, we DO need to remember that writing is a skill just like anything else. A rare one. And a valuable one.
You are one of those that write REALLY well. I've learned such much from you in a short while. Don't get sidetracked trying to fix engines.
Jim, you know I'm not, except for a coupe of essays in a local Hiking Mag, a writer. But I am Very appreciative in the insights you are sharing. I knew it was hard to do, but I've learned a lot from your
posts on here. Keep up the good work and I am one of many who are excited to see the finished WIP! Let me know what I can do to help!
People like you make this business fun. Knowing that there's a base waiting for the next finished product makes it so much easier. Thanks for all your support.
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