There are countless misconceptions about the writer, such as
But no stereotype is more promient than the depressed, starving, and struggling artist.
There's a notion of writers being these lonely - and often frail - individuals who hunkers over a keyboard, while bumming money from family and friends for the sake of the occasional warm dinner. Granted, many new writers find there isn't much money to be had.
Twenty-odd years ago, it was possible to live off of writing. We all the know the names of authors who made it big with their books and held onto a publisher like many people do with a steady career. Unlike these career holders, however, writers don't often switch ambitions, which may the very reason writing is so daunting. There's a point when you know you're committed to the craft forever.
And as for making it big, in this age of informational clusters, almost everyone considers themselves a writer, and for that very reason, breaking into the industry is equally, if not even more so, difficult.
What's different now, is your entrance to the professional writing world does not guarantee longevity. One book doesn't mean two, and so on. Is it any coincidence there are so many authors betting their chips on a series or one high concept? Probably not. It's fluff the bank or spend even more endless nights at the desk with a blank page and a bowl of ramen.
But does all the aforementioned mean the writer is suffering? Like any other life-long goal, it's frustrating, it's tiring, and it takes every last bit of energy you have.
For a writer, days can be longer or shorter (and just because you write doesn't mean you'll be read; there's much "business" to be attended to), you're already at home, and sometimes you can't sleep until that big idea is down on paper. And then there are revisions.
Again, are writers suffering?
It's a popular idea for people to think writers suffer because they chose to be writers. It's like the late night wanderer trying to buy booze on food stamps: we assume their personal choices are what limit them. If a writer just decided to get a "real" job, they wouldn't have to worry about affording groceries or feeling abandoned by society. Despite your career, how often have you not had to worry about bills or some other aspect of your life? Writing or CEO, life's universal.
Which leads to the writer's view of themselves. For decades now, and possibly due to Woody Allen movies, writers see themselves as these entities far beyond the comprehension of the average human being:
I'm not meaning to be pretentious here in any way. But look, the first step is the most difficult in any pursuit of happiness, I assure you. And sometimes drinking our sorrows is not the best solution, although writers are kind of known for such a thing.
I argue we should eliminate this idea of the suffering writer.
Writing is intangible when it's in the works. No one knows what the writer is doing until their work takes a more accessible form, which is the most discouraging part for both sides. Let writers write and keep clacking away at the keyboard. For years it has been said writing is both art and craft, but it is time we add profession or aspiration.
Links You Might Enjoy:
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.