Writers’ Secrets 2: Oh, cool, I write too, but only in my spare time.

Last weak I wrote about why writer’s write in the first place but there’s a massive difference between those who just write as a hobby and those who write as a profession, or aspire to. The reason I’m including those who aspire to write full-time is because there’s a big difference in the mindset between such writers and those who don’t have such dreams/aims. Besides, just because a writer hasn’t got there yet doesn’t mean he/she won’t. Even James Joyce was unpublished at some point in his writing career.

So why do some writers pursue a writing career when others don’t?

It’s easier to answer the reverse of this question, i.e. why do some writers do it as a hobby, without any higher aspirations? Now, I’m not one of these writers: I want to write professionally but I reckon I can still answer this. (If any spare-time writers are reading, please correct me if I’m wrong!) The reason is that writing in their spare time, as a hobby, is enough for them. They don’t need to see their name in print; they don’t need to be famous and they don’t begrudge time at work as time away from their writing. Well, maybe they do sometimes, but not enough to pursue writing as a career.

Fear might also be a contributing factor but I don’t believe it always is. In saying that, I do think that fear is the reason writers who once dreamed of being professionals give up that dream. This is completely understandable – after all, the odds aren’t good and it takes a lot of hard work and thick skin to ‘make it’.

So why are some writers crazy enough to even bother trying?

I think you might as well ask a doctor why he/she tried to become a doctor. The answer is simple: because it’s what he/she wants to do. I mentioned last week that I believe that anyone can do anything if they work hard enough at it. I guess you have to believe that to try – unless you believe you’re special in some way.

It doesn’t matter that it’s almost impossible. It doesn’t matter that out of the millions of wannabe writers only a handful manage to write full-time and make a living from it. It’s what I want to do so I’m going to keep trying until I achieve it.

A`lot of people want to be writers but how many people actually write a novel (for example)? Out of those, how many edit it again and again until they’re happy with it? Out of those, how many submit and keep submitting no-matter how many times they’re rejected? Not millions.

And even if I don’t manage to make a living off writing, I can always write full time when I retire.

Next week: where do writers’ ideas come from?


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