7 Misconceptions About Being a Writer

Like any good story, the writing life is a tale of deceptive depth. At first glance, it offers up a shiny, artsy, fun cover. Become a Writer! its title beckons, and its first chapters lure us in by fulfilling all these initial promises. But the deeper we get, the further we go, the more we realize there’s more to this story than meets the eye. There’s more adventure, more conflict, more drama, and more comedy than we could ever have realized. In short, there are many different misconceptions about being a writer.

At the beginning of the year, I started re-reading my old journals, starting from when I was fourteen (because at some point I got embarrassed and burnt everything prior to that). It’s been fascinating to revisit my young self for many reasons, but one of the most interesting is remembering what it was like to be that young writer just starting out—the one who didn’t even know they made books that taught you how to write. I’d all but forgotten what it was like at the beginning of the journey—to be on the very first page of my own personalized version of Become a Writer! 

Certainly for me so far, the adventure has been full of surprises, and since I’m now twenty years into this journey and long since complacent with many of the challenges that initially seemed insurmountable, it’s both startling and delightful to realize the story of being a writer is far from formulaic.

7 Misconceptions About Being a Writer

Today, I thought it might be fun to take a look at seven of the misconceptions about being a writer that I used to believe (some of them for many, many years). Some of them were useful in their time and place, if only because they narrowed my options in the beginning and kept me from being overwhelmed by too many options. But each was also a joy to conquer on the way to seeing a much bigger vista on the other side.

1. Writing Doesn’t Count Until You’re a “Real” Writer

This has got to be the most prevalent of all misconceptions about being a writer. (And, in all fairness, the title of this site certainly hasn’t done anything to help!) It begins with the reality that we start as beginners with a long road before us if we are ever to be published, prolific, or even simply professional. But the idea that our writing doesn’t count until we are published, prolific, and professional is simply untrue.

People often ask me what qualifies them as a “real” writer. Publication is the clearest metric. But as my young self learned, that’s not always so clear either. I started out right on the cusp of the indie boom, back when no one had anything good to say about self-publishing (and not without good reason). So I walked a long and winding road on the way to figuring out what qualified me as a “real” writer. Was it my first self-published novel? Was it when I gained a certain number of sales/followers/hits/rankings? I’m honestly not sure where I crossed the line and decided I was a “real” writer. Looking back, I rather think there was no line. There was just the passage of time and the gaining of experience.

I have always disliked the phrase “aspiring writer” or, worse, “wannabe writer.” Rather, “pre-published writer” is one of my favorite ways to talk about the launchpad phase. If you write, you are a writer. And if you are a writer, then you are already a “real” writer. Don’t discount what you write in the early days (and please don’t burn it like I did). You’re no less a “real” writer in the beginning than you were a “real” person in childhood.

2. There’s a Magic Daily Word Count That Proves You’re Disciplined

It’s kind of funny, actually. The writing life is deeply non-normative. It’s different for each of us. And yet writers suffer from comparativitis. Largely, I think this is because the sheer vastness of the creative life puts us all at sea and we look to our fellows to help us understand what might be “normal” and what might not.

Certainly, there is value in this. Long ago, I remember reading Elizabeth George’s Write Away and finding great comfort in her approach to planning a story—because it grounded my own instinctive approach. But I’m quite sure other young writers read the same book and found it horrifying because it didn’t fit their own instinctive approaches at all.

So it goes with daily word count, among many other things. We’re always sneaking looks over our peers’ shoulders, wondering just how many words they write every day. Do our own habits measure up? Or are we about to discover how woefully undisciplined we really are?

But there’s no secret sauce. There’s no magic daily word count. J. Guenther commented insightfully on last week’s post:

…words per day can be a deceptive measure of progress. I believe that every story has its own natural pace of development. Faster is not always better; in fact, it can be dangerous.

The writer’s mind is not a microwave; it’s more like an imu, the pit used to slow cook an entire pig. It takes time for the conscious mind and the unconscious mind to work together to cook up a fully-balanced, consistent story. Many writers underestimate the importance of mulling scenes over and brainstorming alternatives before putting words on paper.

Some writers write in great swathes of eight or more hours a day, pounding out tens of thousands of words in a sitting. Others poke out bare sentences at a time. Most of us fall somewhere in between. The proof of our discipline as writers is found far less in how fast the words flow from us and much more in the fact that we keep showing up and inviting them to flow.

3. The Rest of Your Life Must Never Take a Backseat to Your Writing

This is one I believed for a long time. My mantras were “treat writing like a job” and “if you don’t take your writing time seriously, no one else will either.”

They were good mantras as far as they went. Certainly, they helped me hone daily discipline. But if we believe these ideas too stringently, we risk either never looking up from our desks or feeling constantly guilty because other parts of our lives do in fact push their way to the front of the line.

During this time of global unease, I have heard from writer after writer struggling with compounded stress because they simply can’t find it in themselves to write like normal right now. But if this pandemic and its myriad tentacles is teaching us nothing else, I think it’s safe to say it’s proving that life follows its own cycles. Some days/weeks/months/years are for writing; some are not.

One of the most joyous lessons I have learned so far as a writer is that the non-writing days/weeks/months/years do not mean I’m any less of a writer. They just mean it’s time to learn something new, to explore, to refill the tank. Indeed, I’d have to say writing only truly works when the “rest of your life” is in the front seat.

4. The Writing Life Follows a Set Roadmap

Maybe it’s just because I’m so linear-minded, but I entered the writing life with this conception that it was a neatly mapped and well-traveled road. As writers advance down this road, they pass a steady progression of milestones—rather like successive grades in school.

Again, to a certain degree this is true. If nothing else, you start out as a beginner, move on to the intermediate phase, and perhaps someday become “advanced.” But beyond that progression, which is affected by little more than time, the writing ride is wild and uncharted.

My journey so far looks nothing like how I thought it would. I also daresay my journey looks like nothing yours, and yours looks nothing like anyone else’s. We come to writing at all ages. We write for all kinds of different reasons. Our journeys to publication (or not) follow many different paths. And even the ebb and flow of our creative interests and motivations are ever-shifting.

If there’s one thing I would say about the writing life at this point, it’s that it’s full of plot twists.

5. Writers Are Wiser Than Everyone Else

In a vague sort of way, I used to think of writers as some kind of transcendent version of humanity. How wise they must be. How different from common mortals. I mean, they have their names on book covers in the grocery store for heaven’s sake.

Certainly those writers whose names are noticed, much less recognized, did have the talent and smarts to get their names on those covers. But at some point, when you realize you are an author, you also realize you haven’t somehow become bigger in order to fit the role. Rather, your idea of “author” becomes quite a bit smaller. You realize that, if anything, being an author is a challenge to learn more—because you don’t know anywhere near enough.

6. Either Writing Is Glamorous or Writing Is for Lazy Bums

Nothing stops dinner conversation faster than telling people you’re a writer. No one ever seems to know quite what to make of it (very possibly because they’ve never before gotten that answer to the “so what do you do?” question). Should the conversation happen to progress past polite grunting, you’re likely to get one of two responses. Either people geek out and think you must be rich and famous with multiple movie adaptations under your belt, or they inconspicuously break eye contact in the suspicion that you’re just covering for the fact that you’re too lazy to have a “real job.”

For most of us, writing is neither glamorous nor a breeze. Very few of us live in a mansion or walk the red carpet. It’s true we often do spend long hours lying around in the hammock or on the couch—but usually in some sort of agonized struggle to break through our story woes.

On the whole, writers are incredibly disciplined people. They’re like body-builders of the imagination—always working, always honing, always subjecting themselves to rigorous self-improvement plans. In fact, writers are some of the least lazy people I know. And we do all this even though we have long since been disillusioned in the notions of glamour. Money, fame, and movie adaptation sound fun, but they’re not why the majority of us do what we do, day in and day out. This quote from Ryan Reudell nails it:

Maybe it won’t be famous. Maybe it won’t be a movie. But that’s not why I started it. And that’s not why I’ll finish.

7. Writing Is Very Serious Stuff

After my first novel came out, I went to the post office to mail review copies. I told the postal worker it was my first book, and he drawled, “What is it—a cheap romance?” Mortified, I rattled off something about how “no, it was a historical novel about duty and justice.”

It took me a long time after that to admit that what I write is genre pulpiness full of swash and, yes, a good dose of romance. But it wasn’t just the deprecating sexism of the postal worker’s comment that made me reluctant to name what I write as “fun” stories. It was also the belief that writing, if it’s to be any good, should be very serious stuff.

Certainly, writing is serious. It shapes our world. Even if no one reads it but ourselves, it still shapes our lives. But writing our stories is a great responsibility, it is no greater a responsibility than is every other word we put into the world. And a lot of those words are just good fun. Indeed, I adamantly believe some of the most powerful stories (for both good and evil) are those that are most entertaining.

These days, if someone asks me about one of my books, I usually jump to the most fun part first.


Truthfully, I begin to realize misconceptions about being a writer are never-ending. But I’m also realizing that the more lightly we camp on certain ideas as “gospel,” the more easily we’re able to discard them when they’re no longer of use to us. Twenty years from now, I look forward to reading my current journal—and smiling back at the things I used to believe but have long since outgrown.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What are some misconceptions about being a writer that you used to hold but have grown past? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. On your sixth point about writers being too lazy to find a real job, Brian Griffin of “Family Guy” fame fits that description. It’s probably also why I’ve put “Attempting to be an author” on my Facebook profile.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      No doubt there are some who use the idea of being a writer as an excuse. But I think there are many who are so possessed by the muse that they are willing to live in poverty. Certainly, our canon of classic authors would feature many such.

  2. I had some unrealistic expectations about author voice. I thought that in order to write fantasy, it had to be epic & have some kind of lofty voice, or my stories needed to be modern day urban with a snarky protagonist. Took me a while, but I finally figured out that I can write fantasy with a little more spunk and quirkiness without going full on snark-tastic. My voice shouldn’t sound like someone else’s just cuz I think it fits the genre (though keeping genre expectations in mind is important). I just had to write a lot before I figured out what I sound like, and that how I sound is just fine for the genre I write.

  3. Angela Moody says

    I’ve discovered over the years that I am constitutionally unfit for a “day job.” I can’t hold a job to save my life, but I can sit down to my notebook or computer each and every day, even if it is for two or three hours or seven or eight hours, and work on putting words on a page. Are they any good? Who knows and who cares. Once they’re on the page I can always make them better.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, that’s the great thing about being a writer–we don’t have to get it right the first time out.

    • Haha, I can’t do a “day job” either for a variety of reasons, and I feel the same way about my art. I can do it, at varying lengths of time. And I feel the same way about writing, of course. I think I might be a little less active on the writing front just because of how much work I’ve put into trying to get my art career moving. I kind of regret how little writing I’ve accomplished during quarantine when I had the chance to de-prioritize my art, though. 😛

      I can’t do the word count thing. If I tell myself how many words I should write in a session, I’ll never make it. Won’t happen if I tell myself how many hours to write, either. But if I simply sit down and set a 20 minute timer and just tell myself to write as much as I can in that period and then only as much as I want to afterwards, that’s where the words start flying out. I’ll sail past that 20 minute mark for a few hours sometimes.

      • Oh yeah, #3 used to trip me up a lot, too. I used to feel really guilty about not writing sometimes when I had a chance to, when realistically life was redirecting my energies too far to accomplish it.

  4. Thank you! I’ve fallen into all of these traps at one point or another. Next post should be on how to combat these myths… hope you’re staying well!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Mostly, my combative techniques have consisted of waiting until time teaches me better. 😉

  5. April Taylor says

    And No 8, which I have had said to me so many times…”I thought you lot were millionaires.” If only, sweetheart, if only…

  6. Thanks for this great post! Agree with all, especially the word count. It is SO not about the daily word count for me. It’s about reaching the “oh so that’s what this scene is really about” moment!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      There’s so much joy in taking the pressure off ourselves as writers (when deadlines and such allow). It makes it all about the fun of it again!

  7. Imoen Kim says

    Regarding the “writers are wise”, I feel that misconception is closely related to a child’s expectation that at some point you cross a line and be an adult. I am well in my 30s and still haven’t crossed that magical line, but by all accounts I am an adult. So that’s my personal reason to call myself writer, even though I don’t have anything “countable” yet – the thought that you have to cross a specific line to “become” a writer is just as much a myth as the one about crossing a line and then magically becoming an adult.

  8. Michael McClure says

    Number 3, “The Rest of Your Life Must Never Take a Backseat to Your Writing,” is the one I learned recently. Often, creative ideas for where to direct my story, plot twists, or character motivation fixes come to me when I’m driving, socializing, or doing mundane chores. It feels counterintuitive that the best writing practice for me is to allow interruptions and tangents. However, it fits the psychological model that shows creativity blossoms when your mind is unfocused–only when our brain is at rest can it connect novel pathways of unrelated concepts to fix conceptual problems.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      This is why it’s so important for us to break out of the idea that a “proper” writing process has to look a certain way. What’s most important for each of us is optimizing our creativity.

    • Yes, yes! The unconscious mind never rests; it pops up when our conscious mind takes a break. (Don’t forget to thank it for your creative moments!)

  9. Dennis Michael Montgomery says

    I may be the extreme example of being a slow writer. I started my book over twenty-six years ago, At the time I didn’t even think about my story becoming a book that didn’t come until twenty -three or twenty -fours later. I just wanted a Tolkien/Donaldson story to fill the gap. So I decided to write my own.

    I must have had an awful strong ego at the time or I was extremely stupid to think I could do such a thing. The funny or great thing is that nobody told me I couldn’t do it.
    Since then I have learned that there’s a lot that I don’t know about writing and it’s humbling.

    One last thing before I go.

    A very good friend of mine (the same one that encourage me to publish my old story) bestowed upon me a nice gesture. In one of his writings he called me a ‘fellow writer’ even before I had my books published.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “I must have had an awful strong ego at the time or I was extremely stupid to think I could do such a thing.”

      I think this is a prerequisite of being a writer. :p

  10. Harald Johnson says

    Good topic, excellent post! Every writer should read this.

    For me, another is/was: “It’s very hard/impossible for a nonfiction writer to (successfully) write fiction.”

    After decades of writing (and publishing) nonfiction, in both magazines and actual books, I wanted to try novel writing. I knew it would be a hard transition, but I studied a lot of fiction-writing craft (including from a certain K.M. Weiland!) and read a lot in my favorite genres. When I felt ready to pull the trigger, I sent a sample to an old girlfriend who happened to be a contract NYC editor. Ignoring the temptation to credit her enthusiastic “Yes, you can do it!” response to something personal, I plowed ahead and haven’t looked back. Making the transition from nonfiction to fiction isn’t easy, but it’s certain possible.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Fiction is certainly its own skill set, but there are so many shared skills that will already be in place for non-fiction writers wanting to make the transition.

  11. Right now, I’m kind of like your younger self. I’m a teenage writer and I believed all those common misconceptions.This article was helpful because it dispelled them. So, thanks!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Some of them are useful in the beginning, as long as you don’t get trapped by them.

  12. Amédée says

    Thanks for your wonderful post!
    From memory, I think it was G.B. Shaw who said something like: “I make it a rule to write two thousand words daily, even if all are the same word”… It compliments so well your second misconception!

  13. James C Lawrence says

    Thank you, appreciate your thoughtful take on all the misconceptions we writers like to torture ourselves with.

    I took a local adult ed writing class 25 years ago in Santa Barbara, CA, taught by a one-hit wonder novelist who was as rich a character as any you could imagine making up.
    He had a long, jowly, vaguely Slavic face and spoke in a dry, witty baritone as if he had all the time in the world and wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere…a 78 rpm long play record permanently playing at 45 speed.
    I loved him. Beneath the seasoned, world-weary indifference was a real mensch. His class was always full and a rich experience every time. He was a good teacher, even if cynical about the writing game vis a vis conventional publishing (this was long before Amazon and self-publishing).
    My favorite quote of his: “Everybody wants to be a writer. Nobody wants to write.”

    He’d run this old saw by us at least once every class, sweeping the entire class with a dour cloudy gaze.

    He, Julia Cameron of Artist’s Way fame and you among others have taught me the wisdom of considering myself a writer. And to remember that the writing itself is still the field we plant our seeds in.

  14. Ingrid Bouldin says

    As others have replied here, excellent post! And I agree all writers should read this.

    3. The Rest of Your Life Must Never Take a Backseat to Your Writing ~ Some days/weeks/months/years are for writing; some are not.

    Thank you for this, Katie, truly. I feel like I’ve been given permission to take a very long, very deep breath for the first time in just over 2 years…
    Back then and in a literal ten minutes, my husband experienced an unforeseen, deadly-serious health situation that forced drastic changes to both our lives. My writing, and ‘normal’ life…whatever that is… in general for both of us, went full stop.
    It’s been an immensely difficult, long journey for him most of all, but for both of us.

    As of 3 weeks ago my best bud gets steadily, progressively better every single day. He’s finally heading the right direction even when some days are more like being on all fours crawling. Or even slow and wobbly baby steps will do. As his primary caregiver it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten any decent or significant writing done. That aside, it has been a good time to refill that tank while Life demanded to sit not just in that front seat, but the driver’s seat, pedal to the metal.
    I feel as if I’ve been given permission to take a deep breath and just handle LIFE for now, and learn vs getting any ilk of what I’d interpret as viable writing done.

    4. The Writing Life Follows a Set Roadmap ~ If there’s one thing I would say about the writing life at this point, it’s that it’s full of plot twists.

    No truer words than this. Being linear minded myself, I kick my own arse when I can’t stick to a squeaky regime in this process. Coming away hours later feeling like I’m all over the place, then occasionally the pieces do click in place which shocks the heck outta me. I have so much more to learn.

    I want to thank you for everything you post, encourage, inspire, teach and do, Katie.
    Some days or wee hours of a semi-rare quiet night, I binge read posts. My lifeline to sanity and normalizing this abnormal situation called ‘current life’. Not even kidding.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      So sorry to hear about your struggles, but very glad that things are on the upside! It sounds like you’ve earned some serious R&R.

  15. I am guilty of 6 of those 7 misconceptions.
    And although I should know better, I am embarrassed by my low daily word count and I won’t feel like a real writer until I get my first published story.
    Great post, K! Thanks.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      You’re not alone. Even just this morning, an inner voice was groaning at me because I spent my writing time on necessary (and a little bit of not-so-necessary) research, instead of actually writing. I had to remind myself it’s all a worthy part of the journey.

  16. Love this. Great points, and one of the few “how to be an author” posts that doesn’t require being stuck in someone else’s definition.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      No, I think that’s important for us all to realize: there really isn’t a “right” way to be a writer. There are just certain techniques and approaches that help us achieve particular goals.

  17. ‘You’re no less a “real” writer in the beginning than you were a “real” person in childhood.” Best quote ever on writing. I wish I had read it years ago when I struggled so much with impostor syndrome.

    I remember publishing my first book and breaking down in tears, so afraid that I would be a failure. I’m sure that it is a common fear. Now I believe that every time we sit down to write, we are conquerors.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Impostor syndrome still gets me from time to time–with every new book I write actually. :p But it gets easier to work through with experience.

  18. All of these resonate with me. Great post.

  19. That idea that only “serious” fiction is any good is annoying but pervasive. Cousin to the belief that the “real world” is grim and unpleasant – as though joy and love and laughter are somehow less than real!

    The one about the rest of your life not getting in the way is a pain too. The person I am when I’m writing is not a different person to the me who sweeps the floor or prunes the grapevine or knits socks. So it’s not like writer-me gets to sneer at housekeeping/gardening/handworking mes, or battle them for use of the 24 hours.

    I am one, and I am constantly trying to balance a complex life – as, no doubt, are we all. Setting aspects of my life to war against each other is destructive to them all.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “So it’s not like writer-me gets to sneer at housekeeping/gardening/handworking mes, or battle them for use of the 24 hours.”

      So true.

  20. Lisa Kovanda says

    For me, it’s been about changing my personal expectations based upon my changing health status. Giving myself permission to take longer, waiting until my mind isn’t clouded by the pain meds I need to survive. I’m still writing, and if anything, chronic illness has brought a new depth to what I have to say, but the process I am used to relying upon doesn’t always work with my body’s needs. It’s okay to adapt your approach whenever and however you need.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Good for you. This can be such a difficult prioritization to make, but it is often the right one. Take care of yourself!

    • Lisa, your challenges give me greater appreciation for my own wellness. I pray that you will find improvement and a decrease in discomfort. Kudos to you for usong your physical issues to enhance your writing. That adds a level of authenticity that no one can counter.

      You are absolutely right – physical or otherwise, it’s important to listen to your body – physical, mental, spiritual, etc. – to “inform” your writing. As I worked on my second novel, I learned great patience, for it was consistent in not allowing me to push it when it wasn’t ready. I was graced with a great reward when it allowed me to finish it – a powerful calling to my next project.

  21. Speaking as an unpublished writer I think of myself as an evolving writer. I like the term because I hope that I expect to think of myself the same way after I wrestle my novel all the way to publication.

    I have to say I do not talk much about writing with my non-writing friends. Part of this is concern they will view me as weird for putting so much time into without a payoff, and then I’m likely to mention my writing time all comes out of TV time and things will get uncomfortable. Also, this is a pass time which is hard to describe to anyone who doesn’t do it without descending into a monologue.

    Katie, if you are looking around for a topic, “how to talk about writing to your non-writing friends” might be one people would appreciate.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      “how to talk about writing to your non-writing friends”

      I’m still trying to figure that one out myself. :p

    • If we are truly honest with each other and ourselves, we are all evolving writers, no matter if we keep only a daily journal or have a dozen published books.

      In a newsletter I received recently, a well-known published author pointed out that every time he starts a new book, it’s no different from when he started his first.

      No two books are alike. Granted, we can apply much of what we have learned while producing previous work to the latest work-in-progress, but each story brings its own challenges.

  22. LOL If it makes you feel better, the anecdote about the postal worker’s snide comment reminds me of Louisa May Alcott and Jo’s experience with a publisher. You are the heroine of this story!

  23. Colleen Janik says

    Thank you! What a wonderful, inspiring post. This has been your best ever, I guess because it’s what we ALL needed to hear! Number 5 is my favorite. I do still somehow believe that writers possess some sort of mystical wisdom regarding mere mortals that they/we see and understand life, people, nature, religion, EVERYTHING on an entirely different level that no one else can every hope to achieve. Maybe we have to spend enough time with Yoda or something, right???
    I still want to believe it’s true.
    Hey, that could be the premise for a great book, right???

  24. Kristy Werner says

    THANK YOU! I’m a new writer and not published, but I DO consider myself a real writer. Because, if you write, what else could you possibly be?

  25. KatarinaMayer says

    Thank you! So true, so inspiring and such a relief to realize that self-doubt is not a specialty exclusive to me:-). Your post came at the right time for me!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Definitely not your exclusivity. 🙂 In fact, I think most writers find it a frequent companion.

  26. Travis O says

    I think word counts can be especially deceptive. I used to spend a lot more time fretting about that, but I’ve come to realize that it can actually lead to an inferior product. I DO prioritize speed and efficiency where it matters, but is a day of editing and checking for plot-holes not equally important?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, I’ve long found that setting a daily time limit for writing is more helpful than a word count limit.

  27. JM Barlow says

    To your first point… I’m not a ticketed carpenter, but I’m a carpenter. When I crossed the line from labourer to carpenter’s helper to carpenter, I have no idea. There was no line. Some things I became good at or learned before others. There may be mathematics and formulas in carpentry the way there are acts, scenes, and the words themselves in writing.. but when you become qualified to do it is entirely dependant on the expectations of the task at hand.

    Being a carpenter is also “either glamorous, or for bums”, depending on who you met doing it. There’s also good carpenters, and crappy ones.

    They’re not so different, really.

  28. I’ve finally come to terms with the ‘real job’ myth. As Angela said above, I don’t have the constitution for a day job, but I can show up daily to my page. I am now getting over the word count myth. I may never be a nanowrimo winner, according to their stats, but if I’ve done everything I can do each day, than I’ve done my job.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m a big fan of NaNo, but I’ve never done it and doubt I will ever be tempted to do so. It’s not my style. But that’s the important thing–knowing what your style is and doing that.

  29. Peter Moore says


    This isn’t a comment on your current post, though I loved your observations. I listen to your old podcasts while doing chores (currently prepping for painting the outside of our house).

    You said something in podcast 501, 7 Ways Writing Saves Us When Life is Hard, that knocked me on my butt – “When I write…I disappear into the place in my head where the stories live.“

    I can’t remember any statement that captures the feeling, the magic, of writing so vividly. It’s that rare state where you become the story. Where you live the dreams, struggles, failures, and triumphs of each character.

    It’s the moment when tears come to your eyes or laughter bubbles up, not from you, but from the living, breathing people captured on the page.

    I’m not sure if it is the creative state you talk about, but it certainly is magical.

    Thank you,

    Peter Moore

  30. Thanks, Katie. I needed this post in a BAD way today. I’ve been suffering through creative burnout for months and months, and I’ve almost convinced myself to get a “real” job because the numerous writing contracts I have with a small press are being cut short by the publisher (as of August 1). I feel like a failure and an impostor, but the quote about not writing to be rich or famous is SO true for me.
    I needed the reminder of my “why.”

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Very sorry to hear times are tough, Sharon. But hang in there. You may yet find your greatest period of creativity is what will follow this fallow period!

  31. A fine post. Thanks for the mention, K.M. One more relevant suggestion, if I may: The advantages of good weekly writing workshops are legion. They help put 1 thru 7 in perspective.

  32. I agree, K.M.! Writing to each of us is different and yet, some of the journey we share among those who call themselves, “Writers.”

  33. Sorry, but I still believe that writers are unimaginably wise. Maybe it’s because I feel wise myself. And because you are one of the only writers I really know, and you seem plenty wise, and I’ve learned lots from you. And nobody else understands when I try to explain stuff, and I end up saying ‘its a writer thing’ and being rather grumpy that nobody can understand us lofty beings.

    Haha. I mean obviously, we’re nothing special… but except I mean we ARE, but like… not… you know?
    ^ me, trying to explain the difference.

    But still, a great post!

    • Tiffany,

      I find myself in the same quandary when talking about what I do with ‘regular’ people. But I have to disagree with your conclusion. I don’t think what we as writers know comes from an inherent quality that makes us wiser than others.

      For example, take a couple friends of mine. Frank is a computer programmer, Juan is an engineer. My eyes glaze over when Frank starts talking about database structure and code modules. Likewise, I get totally confused about the details of structural load and electrical circuitry that Juan tries to explain to me.

      Do you see where I’m going with this? People become good at what they do through hard work. Writers are no different.

      I also get reminded how much I have to learn each time I sit down at my laptop to edit a chapter. How could I have written so many ‘ly’ adverbs?

      Anyway, good luck in your journey. And don’t forget to have fun along the way.


    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Haha. I can live with that. 😉

  34. I used to think it has to be perfect, until I realised that all writing is part of a conversation, which may last hundreds of years, and even then, the conversation is not over.

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