Journalism, Writing

The ugly truth about writing

When I embarked on my writing career 15 years ago, I wrote because I felt inspired to tell other people’s stories. But I also thought journalism would be glamorous and fabulous. Oh, how wrong I was.

Writing is not glamorous.

The closest thing to glamour you will feel is the day after deadline – when you’ve slept, had a shower and changed your clothes. Prior to that you will be on a caffeine-fuelled, sleep-deprived, anxiety-loaded, mission to overcome your terror of writing something worthless and missing deadline.

If you don’t like staring at a computer screen for hours agonising over little things called words – I call it pedantic semantics – don’t become a writer.

Writing is not all about inspired brilliance.

You have to learn to write on demand – whether you’re inspired or not. Writer’s block can be debilitating until you learn this skill. Sometimes you just have nothing to say.

And mostly, even when you are inspired, writing is typing. Unfortunately I’m not a typist, so I’m slow – with typos. Constant typos are infuriating, not inspiring. That said, there are moments in the writing process when you will feel euphoric. Or is that just the caffeine high? Enjoy them.

Just because Carrie Bradshaw got $4.50 a word – doesn’t mean you will.

Once I got paid $2 a word. And I mean literally once. I also used to write 2000-word features for $125. That’s about six cents a word. If you freelance for more than 50 cents a word – be grateful. And smug. You’re doing well.

Your article in print will be flawed.

A story is never finished, it is merely abandoned. Funnily enough, at precisely the time of your deadline. So, when you read your story in print, it could be better. Even if you thought it was perfection, you will read it and see flaws. You might even hate it.

My advice – don’t read it. Look at your byline, let your ego have its moment, then turn the page immediately.

Happy writing!

9 thoughts on “The ugly truth about writing”

  1. I can totally relate to this item Summer !! I used to have the tendency to edit, edit and yes, edit, before I had the complete work down. If I do this I am really never satisfied…:D

    Lovely to meet another fb writer here…


  2. That last one really rings true! I have perfectionist tendencies, so learning to LET THE STORY GO has been really important working as a journalist, and even for my work as a children’s writer.

    1. Hi Chrissie, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. And thanks for your help with the twitter feed πŸ™‚ This was actually my first ever post – I transfered all my old posts into this new site today, but not in their original order.

      I know what you mean, you can edit forever, at some point you just have to walk away! Mostly I only see the flaws in my published work. I love blogging because if you see a better way of writing it three months later you can just change it! It’s not frozen in time like print πŸ™‚

  3. Brilliant blog Summer! I too hung on every word and conclude the following gratitudes:
    1) Sr Rose taught me how to type regardless of her methodologies
    2) I have only just ‘come out’ as a writer
    3) I have you to hold my hand on my writing journey lol

    1. Hi Bron, thank you for your comments! If only I’d known in high school that typing would be an invaluable skill later in life. The wisdom of retrospect. You are definitely a writer – and good luck with your DL piece. If you want me to read over your final draft before you submit, happy to be your sub-editor. Yell out if you need me to hold you hand πŸ™‚

  4. Thanks for your comment Dom, really appreciate you visiting my site. Glad you enjoyed the post and can relate! Oh yeah, I know that starry-eyed look… I find myself thinking, wow if only you knew the stress and angst of it all πŸ™‚ I think it is the same for novelists – just a considerably longer process so more prolonged pain! I used to be so pleased that I’d never had an ambition to write a novel. But now I do and I’ve embarked on the journey – doh! πŸ™‚ xxx

  5. Oh, how you capture the art of writing Summer!! Hung every word – all of it so true!
    Where does this warped perception come from? And what about that starry-eyed look you get from others when you tell them you’re a journalist?.. Do you think it’s the same for novelists?
    Love the blog! x Dom

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