Never Say This to a Writer

“I just want to make a bunch of money so I figured I’d write a book. Can’t be that hard, right?”

I can’t tell you how many times I hear this at book signings, writing/book conventions, and during random conversations. Each time I smile and nod and offer a few tips on writing, and each time in my head I’m judging you. Hard.

First of all, this asinine statement makes it sound like writing is easy, that anyone can do it and do it easily. Sure, anyone can write, but writing a good book IS hard work. It takes time, dedication, focus, and passion. This is not to say that every book is good, or will appeal to everyone, but regardless, a book isn’t something you can just throw together all willy-nilly and think it’s up to par with the work of someone who has given it the proper amount of time and attention.

Second of all, it’s incredibly insulting to those of us who don’t write simply to cash in on a fad and make a quick buck. Some of us simply love to write, and enjoy sharing our words with others. It’s fun, it’s hard work, it’s fulfilling, and there’s nothing else we’d rather do. It’s not all about the money, which is why many, many, many of us have other jobs and use what little free time we do have to write. Because we love it.

At my last book event, I had no less than five “writers” say this to me. One stated that the economy was bad and she couldn’t find a job, so she was going to write a book and cash in on the paranormal trend/craze while it was still hot since “people love vampires and I figure books can’t be all that hard to do.” Another asked if my books paid all the bills and allowed me lots of vacation time/spending money, and when I stated otherwise, decided “maybe writing isn’t worth it after all.” I was tempted to ask their names simply so I’d know better than to buy their books in the future.

Maybe I just don’t understand this mindset. Perhaps I’m too sensitive. Sure, every writer wants to be successful and be able to support themselves solely on their books. But unless you are incredibly lucky or know someone in the industry, chances are, you aren’t going to be an overnight hit. Maybe you never will be, but if you love writing, then that doesn’t matter. You do it anyway because it’s about doing what you love, and not about trying to leech ideas off of people you think are also only writing to pad their bank account.

If your goal is to be rich and famous overnight by writing a book you don’t care about past a paycheck, then good for you. I wish you the best of luck. Just leave me out of it.

2 Comments on “Never Say This to a Writer”

  1. You tell them girl. I’ve spent my whole life doing what I love, moving from newspaper to newspaper and even in some cases taking pay cuts to write meaningful pieces. This business of writing is not about the money. Like Uncle Louis would say, “Power of the pen.”

  2. I’ve been writing since I was 8 (hopefully the quality has improved). I have not finished a single book yet. It is hard. It is unbelievably hard. And anyone who thinks they can just whack out a book and “cash in” is delusional.

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