Being a writer is the best — we get to go to work in our pajamas, consume too much caffeine, put our playlist on repeat, and if we have a disagreement with someone, it’s usually ourselves.
But this sort of life is not all fun and games. Nor is it easy. There are lots of potential hazards that might befall your average neighborhood writer.
The dangers that we face from paper cuts, grammar nazis, and plot holes are very real.
- If you write your drafts by hand (as I do, there is always the risk of suffering more paper cuts than the average human. Or of running out of ink in your pen, and needing to constantly replace it. All of this is a serious concern.
- I believe that teaching the use of proper grammar is necessary — in schools, not in novels. What if incorrect grammar happens to be part of your setting, or characterizations? We writers truly don’t need self-proclaimed “grammar nazis” attacking us in our sleep — ahem, I mean, our work.
- Every writer knows that one day, he or she will be revising/editing, and come across a gaping plot hole (big enough to drive a truck through), and be mortified. How did this happen?! How could this heinous sin have escaped our attention?! Also, how do we avoid falling into it and becoming part of the problem?!
We are often likely to be defeated by procrastination, block, and distractions.
- Sometimes we know we should write (like if we have a deadline), but we just don’t want to. Either we’re having one of those days when we’d much rather lounge in front of the TV, or keep scrolling on Instagram and call it “research.” Self-motivation can be very difficult to conjure up.
- The dreaded writer’s block — it means that we have ideas of what we want to have happen in our story (for example, we know that Character A needs to purchase that falling-apart house on the edge of town), but we simply aren’t sure of the actual words to write so that we achieve that goal. (Does she need to meet a handsome real estate agent? Inherit the property from a batty old spinster aunt? Narrate paragraphs of, “Today I went to the hardware store to buy blah, blah, and blah for the new old house.”?)
- How do we break the block? With a karate chop. Or a very big cup of tea? Maybe by flipping a coin?
- There are also days when we will not feel the pull to our story. There are days when the desire to run around outside in the sunshine will override everything else. Or when we just need to go shopping for new tablecloths and laundry hampers. Or we would simply rather go to Argentina that week. It means that our word count goals will majorly suffer, even if our physical selves don’t.
Don’t underestimate the threat posed by getting lost in research, real life interruptions, and forgetting your train of thought.
- You are doing the right thing, researching your topic, or the history of your time period, or what breed of dog your narrator should own. Then, before you know it, it’s 2 days later, and you haven’t added a single word to your manuscript, but you do know just how to build a tandoori oven, prepare a horse for racing in the Kentucky Derby, crochet a matching hat and gloves set, just how many times Paper Fury has featured red books in her Instagram photos, and how to spell Aloysius without looking it up again.
- The kids were quietly watching a movie, last you knew. But now they seem to be licking each other to death. Or the cat demands food, or a fresh litter box. A package has just been delivered to your door, and it’s not even for you. Your spouse announces they want to go out for the whole day, starting 5 minutes ago. None of this will help you write.
- Let’s say you hardly slept last night (whoa, so me right now), and although at about 9 p.m. you had a fantastic idea for what your narrator needed to do/say next, at this moment it is out the window, gone frolicking with the butterflies and sparrows. It may take hours, days, weeks to return to you. (Unfortunately, sending out a search party may further distract you, and not successfully hunt down your original plan.)
So, the next time you, dear reader, finish a book that you love the petunias out of, please realize how difficult it was to produce. Pity and love us writers. Mail us care packages.