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Who Ever Said Writing Was Romantic?

Right now, as I write this blog post, I’m sitting in my “man room” with my legs propped up watching the Cowboys and Giants play on Sunday Night Football.

I’m barefooted, and I have on a white undershirt and old khaki shorts. I’m in my house, in the dark, and I kind of feel like falling asleep in my chair.

Sadly, a cabin in the woods overlooking a secluded lake is not in my world at the moment.

When people say “I want to be a writer one day,” sometimes I get the impression that they expect a writing career to be something like that. I would say 99% of writers in the world are like me–they work on their craft at a desk, in their office, maybe with their laptop on a couch.

During the day, when I actually get paid to write, I sit in a cubicle next to a window that actually does have a nice view–but that view is of a tree with a large mall in the background.

Again, not exactly a cabin in the woods.

I was talking about this with my coworkers a few days ago, and our general consensus was that the writing life is misunderstood. We’ve bought too much into nonsensical Hollywood film scripts.

Most writers are portrayed as famous novelists who’ve made millions and can afford that second house secluded in nature–or that high-rise condo over looking downtown. It’s where they get away to write another award-winning novel after their publisher pays them hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the work.

But, in reality, most writers, most of you guys, are like me.

We’re bloggers. We’re copywriters. We’re short-form article writers. We write ads and manuals and boring web copy that tells you to click here and go there.

That’s the reality of writing.

Writing isn’t sexy, not even close, no matter what Hollywood tells you. Most of it doesn’t take place in high rises in Manhattan or in secluded cabins.

But that’s okay. Because if you love to write, then you don’t care about that.

If you love to write, you love to write–whether it’s ads or manuals or boring web copy. That’s the kind of writing that pays the bills during the day while you’re at home in your boxers writing the next Great American Novel at night.

So what’s the point of this post?

This is just a reality check. If you think you’re not a writer because your life isn’t like the writers you see in the movies, then I’ve got news for you: You’ve got it all wrong.

The writing life is about greasy hair and undershirts and boxers and bare feet and a comfortable spot on the couch right after the kids fall asleep. The writing life is about finding 30 minutes of alone time with your laptop during your lunch break.

The writing life is definitely not some romantic fantasy world in which you hang out with Hemingway wanna-be’s at coffee shops in Paris.

Put simply, the writing life is a lot of hard work.

Am I wrong here?

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30 Comments Post a comment
  1. I have to agree with your assessment of writing. It would be great to be one of the few who strike it rich, but a lot writers put bread on the table and a roof over the family’s head, they like what they do and they do it because they like it.

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  2. Reblogged this on Sagoo Geeky.

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  3. You are so right. This summed it up perfectly: “We’re bloggers. We’re copywriters. We’re short-form article writers. We write ads and manuals and boring web copy that tells you to click here and go there. That’s the reality of writing.”
    The writing life IS a lot of hard work and we write simply because we can’t NOT write.

    Great post.

    Like

    September 13, 2013
    • That’s it. It’s frustrating because so many people glamorize writing and think being a “novelist’ is the only way to be a writer. The miss out on an entire world of writing because of that.

      Like

      September 13, 2013
  4. Gwen Stephens #

    You hit the nail on the head. Sure, I dream of a beachfront dwelling in Hawaii, but come on. For now I write from the kitchen table on a hard wooden chair in suburban Chicago. That’s life, but I wouldn’t trade it!

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  5. This is one of my favourite blog posts in a while. Well said, well intentioned, much needed. Thanks Robert!

    “Writing isn’t sexy, not even close, no matter what Hollywood tells you … The writing life is about greasy hair and undershirts and boxers and bare feet and a comfortable spot on the couch right after the kids fall asleep.”

    I’m putting this on my fridge.

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  6. Oh, you are so right! What a great post! I live in Manhattan, but my views are of a brick wall of the building behind! I find myself writing late at night, when the kids are asleep and the day is done. Not the Hollywood lifestyle of a writer, but a writer all the same 🙂

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  7. It’s true! Writing mode: giant comfy clothes, hair in messy bun, pace about with coffee mug. Nice post.

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  8. Isn’t the “place” in which a writer works really deep within the recesses of the mind? While I am no pro, crafting language in a way another human can understand your meaning is done in the same place regardless of the physical location. That place is within the creative recesses of the brain…and maybe that is what aspiring writers do not understand when they check the box that says “writer” at The College.

    For what it is worth, I have an amazing view from my office. An active and historic street in LoDo, Denver. Plenty of creative stuff floats through the view all day, every day. But to really get work done, I am forced to shut the blinds.

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  9. This hits home. I couldn’t add anything more that others haven’t said. Instead, I thank you for this post and reminder that I’m not alone in my thinking.

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  10. englandliebhaber #

    Even the most tedious job gets exciting if you set your mind to it.
    I write in English under http://www.schumachermaria.blog.co.uk .

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  11. I love this post! I have this romantic notion of reading that includes sitting in an enormous, comfy chair in an English cottage. I have yet to enjoy that experience, but still LOVE to read. Reading isn’t always easy. Sometimes, I find myself abandoning a book that has been well-reviewed. It can be likened to being introduced to someone by a friend (“you’ll just love her!”) and finding out that you can’t stand the person.

    As far as writing, I am in the very embryonic stages of putting sentences together and finding my “voice.” I live in Santa Barbara but do not write viewing the ocean from the window of my beach cottage. I typically write while sitting on the couch or in very loud coffee shops. Sometimes the noise helps me to put words together. I love words. Writing is something that I don’t understand. It doesn’t seem to come easily to people who write for a living. It is definitely not romantic. It can be like giving birth: painful hours of contractions leading to a beautiful new addition to the world. Unfortunately, no one can predict how long labor will be…

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  12. My motto has become “A day without writing is still a day without writing.” When I do not write, I am an unhappy camper. I spend a week away from my writing I can’t wait to get back. With all the distractions, I find writing to be superior to any other kind of religious. So I write every day or edit or plan a writing project. But there is always writing on the horizon. And to hell with the romance.

    Like

    September 13, 2013
  13. Jan #

    “the writing life is a lot of hard work”
    Yes, it is. A lot of things will go wrong, there will be a lot of setbacks and a lot of obstacles in a writer’s life. But if it is truly your passion, you’ll never quit on a writing life even in the times when it seems like it has quit on you.

    Like

    September 14, 2013
  14. boring web copy that tells you to click here and go there.

    I like that 🙂 ….you’ve described my job in a nutshell 😀

    Like

    September 15, 2013
  15. and yes, I still love it anyway 🙂

    Like

    September 15, 2013
  16. I never thought writing was romantic, but until I took myself seriously as a writer, I never thought it would be so much work either.

    Like

    September 15, 2013
  17. Cautious Reader #

    I saw that cabin and I thought “who said that writing is not romantic?! Especially if you can write in that cabin!” Oh well… in the real world, writing is a lot of hard work: 90% of work, and 10% of talent.

    Like

    September 15, 2013
  18. Love this! So down to earth! 🙂

    Like

    September 16, 2013
  19. Reblogged this on The Southsea Bookworm and commented:
    I only ever want to be able to say I’m a writer…

    Like

    September 16, 2013
  20. Here’s a few lines from Adam’s Curse by W.B. Yeats

    ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
    Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
    Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
    Better go down upon your marrow-bones
    And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
    Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
    For to articulate sweet sounds together
    Is to work harder than all these, and yet
    Be thought an idler by the noisy set
    Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
    The martyrs call the world.’

    For me that sums it up: writing is hard work!

    Like

    September 21, 2013
  21. Reblogged this on emnice's Blog.

    Like

    September 22, 2013
  22. Reblogged this on The Dreamer and commented:
    this is why i write…

    Like

    September 28, 2013
  23. Writing is the hardest work you’ll ever love!!!

    Like

    October 15, 2013
  24. I think people like to imagine being a writer is something special and kind of “romantic”. The movies still create this vision of writers and that’s why they keep on seeing writers like being romantic. People don’t see that writing is hard work and I guess that it doesn’t care if they think it’s romantic, the writer needs to be in a comfortable place where his/her imagination can flow. The only thing that matters is to put an amazing story on paper.

    Like

    October 10, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Redirect: Who Ever Said Writing Was Romantic? | The Wonderful World of Jan
  2. 7 Myths About Being A Writer | 101 Books
  3. My Most Popular Posts, Broken Down By Category | 101 Books
  4. Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction | 101 Books
  5. Bookish Pet Peeve #11: The Coffee Shop Writer | 101 Books

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