Dispelling a few myths

As a writer, I spend much of my time creating fake worlds, fake people, and fake situations and making them look real. Out there in the real world, there’s more than one myth about what I do, and today, I want to take a few minutes to dispel a few of them.
  1. Writers make a lot of money. Yes, Stephen King, Lisa Jackson, and others like them make a lot of money. They’ve also written a huge collection of books, and top the bestsellers lists. They’ve been around for years, and have paid their dues. I, on the other hand, and many other authors, aren’t anything like King and Jackson. We don’t get rich off of our books (although most of us hope to at some point). We’re happy if we make enough to live on. So if you pirate our books, you are taking food out of our mouths, out of our children’s mouths.
  2. Writers have a quiet office and devote hours a day to writing. Excuse me while I die laughing over here. Do you want to know where my office is? It’s a recliner (well, more than one, depending on who’s home at the time) in my living room, with my laptop in my lap. Sometimes it’s my back porch in a lawn chair with my feet up on the railing and my laptop on my lap. Rarely, it’s sitting on my bed with the laptop. As for quiet? Yeah, I have two kids. Quiet does not exist in my home. I do devote hours a day to writing, I’ll grant you that. The number of hours varies, though, depending on the day. Some days it’s 2-3, other days 7-8. It’s very rare that I spend more than 8 hours a day writing, mainly because I do have other things that need to be done. Like showering.
  3. Anyone can write a book. Well…sure, anyone can scribble down a bunch of words and call it a book. But to write a book that actually tells a story, that has proper grammar and punctuation, that people would pay to read – that takes effort, skill and a little talent. You can change a light bulb and call yourself an electrician; it doesn’t make it true.
  4. Writing is the easiest job ever. I won’t deny, writing is easy compared to some jobs. It’s not backbreaking construction work, it’s not being on your feet all day in a grocery store or pizza place, it’s not driving a taxi or a school bus. But it’s not easy. I admit, it’s not the most difficult task in the world to create a fake world, characters, plot, etc. But writer’s block does hit, things change direction and you find yourself stuck while you figure out how to make it work, and working from home, it can be difficult to draw that line between work and home.
  5. Writers are unstable and/or unhappy. There’s no denying that there are some writers that are unstable or unhappy. But that also holds true for doctors, lawyers, construction workers, secretaries, and stay at home moms. But not all writers are unstable or unhappy. In fact, if that were true, it might be difficult to actually be a writer. We need the variety of emotions, from happiness to desperation, love to hate, in order to write rich, realistic characters and stories.
  6. Writers write when they’re inspired. Not so much. If I did that, I’d be working on about 10 different books at once. I often get ideas for other books while working on whatever the current book is. Between books, I usually find myself with nothing. I solve this problem by making notes about my ideas. I write down as much detail as I’ve got at that moment and save the note. When I finish a book, I take a few days or weeks off, then I pull up my notes and pick one.
  7. You have to have an outline and a plan to write a book. The one time (and only one!) I tried to outline a book, it ended in miserable disaster. I scrapped the whole thing, started fresh, and ended up with a good book. I do not outline and plan everything. I usually have an idea (a woman discovers that her dead husband has been keeping secrets from her, and those secrets are dangerous to her and her children), and a few ideas for what will happen in the story (she’ll find out he cheated, she’ll fall in love with his business partner, her kids will be kidnapped), but that’s about it. I make notes about all those things, and then I just write. I write and let things come together naturally. Sometimes the ideas I had for what would happen work, other times I end up not using them for one reason or another. But I never outline.

Writing is, for me, the best job ever. It is the career I’ve always dreamed about, and being able to actually live it is a dream come true for me. But it’s not the way people often picture it.

Don’t forget, Ripped Away comes out Wednesday, April 3rd! Make sure you pick up a copy and let me know what you think.