Why successful writers need to do more than write

Whether you’re a writer or not, you’ve probably come across one of these memes:

What writers do

While you chuckle, there is an element of truth to some of these. And that truth is:

Writing is about a hell of a lot more than just writing.

When I started writing, I had a vague idea of what I was getting myself in for. With the release of my latest contemporary romance, The Pitch, later this month, I’ve got a much clearer idea. It’s the third book I’ve released (with two more due for release late this year and next).

A writing job description (Or, if only someone had told me all this earlier . . .)

Here’s all those things I’ve discovered are part of the job description for ‘writing’ but are not actually writing:

  • Editing. That’s writing, you say! Huh. To a writer, editing is not writing. Editing is the painful process required to make your writing publishable. It’s a necessary evil. It’s like Coke Zero or Diet Coke. Sure, you can pretend it’s Coke, but it’s not really. Or like Austin Power’s son, Scott. He’s quasi evil, semi-evil. The diet Coke of evil. Are you feeling me? Writers dig writing in its truest form.
  • Writing a synopsis (aka writer’s torture). Ha! you say again. That is writing. No. Sorry, it’s just not. The synopsis was conceived by some bitter, twisted, failed writer somewhere who decided that if he couldn’t write successfully for a living, he’d make all other writers suffer. Enter the synopsis. You’ve just written 80,000 – 100,000 words and now you want me to condense it to approximately 300? And sell it to you while I’m at it. It’s the stuff of writing nightmares. It might have taken you years to finish your manuscript and *poof* up it all goes in a puff of smoke because someone doesn’t like your synopsis. There’s entire courses dedicated to writing a good synopsis. Pressure? No pressure at all. None! See that writer over there rocking in the corner? She’s probably just finished writing her synopsis.
  • The blurb. Also another writing task that’s writing, but not really writing. See previous point above but triple the pain factor because now the word count is down to about 150 words and it’s all about sell, sell, sell, oooh, intrigue, mystery, buy my book, buy my book! You may want to take a course on this one too.
  • Writing blog posts. Yep, what I’m doing right now. Do you realise instead of writing this blog post I could actually be writing? Do you know how much that hurts? This blog post is encroaching on my precious writing time all in the name of ‘building an author profile’ (more on that in a minute). Except of course if you’re procrastinating. Writing blog posts can be quite handy if this is the case.
  • Building an author profile. Sounds serious doesn’t it? It kind of is. Your author profile is the face you put forward to the reading world, or as us marketing types say, it’s your brand. Hang on, you say, I’m not a brand. Yep, sorry to say, the minute you became a published author, you’re a brand. So what are you going to do about it? Oh, I know:
  • Social media. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, Wattpadd, Google+, Linkedin . . . are you twitching yet? Social media is the vehicle for your author brand, so you better make sure you’re on there, but relax, you don’t have to do it all at once and be on everything. Just pick a few and stick with them, but be sure to link them to your:
  • Website. You’ll need a website. Oh, and your website will need content. Pictures are good too. Lots of pictures. And if you’re organized, regular content is the way to go. All of this is extremely important because when it comes time to release your next book you’ll have to create a:
  • Release plan. Think spreadsheets, more blog posts, review requests, giveaways, good reviews, bad reviews, so-so reviews, some more guest posts, interviews, contacting local media because you decide some PR might help with the release of your new book, engaging with readers (if you have them, hopefully you do). And all of this is probably going on when you’re supposed to be, or least want to be, writing your next WIP!

Because you’re a writer damn it!

Or at least I thought that’s what I was when I started out. Now I’m more like a editor/proofreader/sales manager/marketing manager/PR manager/online content creator/social media specialist/customer service specialist . . . have I missed anything?

Oh, yeah. Writing that would be it.

Excuse me. I have to go do some writing.

Just let me see what’s happening on Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads (insert chosen method of procrastination here).

If you’re a reader, did you realize all the other things writers do? Or if you’re a writer, how do you feel about the varied and extensive job description? 

(While I joke, I absolutely love being a writer and all the stuff that goes with it–mostly! I realize I’m one of the lucky ones. I spent a decade in marketing before I turned to writing, so the website, branding, social media and all the other promotional stuff comes reasonably naturally to me. But what about you? How do you feel about it? Would love to hear from you).


21 Replies to “Why successful writers need to do more than write”

  1. I knew it wasn’t quite as simple as typing words on a page, but even so, nothing except actually trying, prepared me for what it takes to be a writer.

  2. I am a part-time blogger who has written four children’s books, although not published! I blog to use my mind and because someday, I truly hope to get my murder mystery rewritten. It is on notebook pages! Yikes!
    Writing needs to come naturally since I stop reading if it sounds austentatious or superficial. There are my two cents worth of words and thoughts. Ha ha 😀

  3. And let’s not forget the face of being a writer…speaking engagements, conducting workshops, manning vendor booths, and attending to our own growth by going to writers’ conferences. Oh my, my head is spinning. Why, again, did I decide I wanted to be a writer?!

    1. Hi Ann. So true, and I must confess I struggle with the face elements of being a writer at times. Partly due to time constraints, but also because it can be difficult to market ourselves as a product or brand! Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.

  4. This is all so true. It reminds me of the ‘joke’ that I tell my creative writing students. Two friends – one an author, the other a brain surgeon – meet for a game of tennis. As they rally, the doctor says to his friend: “this summer I’ve decided to take a month off and write a book.” Immediately the writer say, “Astonishing. I had just decided to take a month off this coming summer to perform some brain surgery.”
    Those who don’t write have NO IDEA how difficult it is, and how much work it entails.

    1. Hi there. Thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing your thoughts. I too have heard something similar to this. Yes, writing a book entails so much hard work. I recall hearing that an easy to read book is, funnily enough, not all that easy to write! Go figure! 😉

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