Becoming a writer has the potential to be a fulfilling and exciting career where each week need not be the same, and you can work and live by your own rules. However, it is important to understand that achieving this dream is not something that happens overnight and will require a certain element of time and dedication.
When it comes to answering how hard is it to become a writer, the realistic truth is that it will depend on a number of different factors and there isn’t a simple answer. Here’s a rundown of the most important factors deciding how hard becoming a writer will be, and to help identify whether or not it is a career you would like to pursue.
Your perception of “hard”
First off, it’s important to identify what you perceive as being “hard”. Imagine someone who has just graduated university and has decided that being a writer is the right career for them. They get to work writing blogs and essays and earn little or no money for a long time so must still live at home. They will likely find that being a writer is in fact very hard and something they’d underappreciated.
A second person may have spent 20 years working long hours training for and becoming a legal professional. They decide they want to pack it in, move abroad and start writing for money. They experience the same challenges as the first person and again it takes them a long time to build up clients and start making real money. However, they don’t find it very hard as their past job required them to work twice as many hours and take a 3-hour commute each and every day.
Your writing ability
Your level of experience will undoubtedly affect your writing career at the start, as it will be easier to convince clients to work with you. However, it should be made clear that, with the right amount of time put in, it is certainly possible to become a much better writer, even if it means enrolling in some courses. Just bear in mind that, when starting out, the task of becoming a writer will seem harder as you begin to develop your writing skills.
Being a writer has the joyous benefit of being able to work when you want and from where you want. However, the flipside of this is that you will need the self-motivation to make yourself work, even when times get tough. There will be no boss present telling you to get back to your desk, and no train to miss on the way into work. Instead, you need to be able to design a routine and force yourself to stick to it.
Your people skills
The journey to becoming an independent, well-paid writer means being able to build and maintain relationships with a number of different clients. This is regardless of what route as a writer you take, be it a content marketer or a fully publicised author. You need to have the hustle to get your foot in the door and meet the right clients, then you need to have that personal touch that makes people want to work with you and keep coming back for more work. Naturally, some people find this skill far easier than others.
Your ability to sacrifice
The very nature of being a writer will require you to be on hand for clients and to work hard at all hours of the day to get enough money to make ends meet. When starting out, you will find your hours likely jump to more than you would working a regular 9-5 in an office. Many find this hard as it puts pressure on their social lives, particularly relationships and the ability to go out on evenings and weekends. If you set out with a willingness to make these sacrifices, then you will find that becoming a writer isn’t quite so hard.
Dealing with rejection
Becoming a writer is almost akin to being a door-to-door salesman. You can expect to knock on 20, 30 or 40 doors in a row and face the same “no” each and every time. As a writer, you’ll find that you’re in a competitive industry and being rejected is commonplace until you get the big breaks you need. If you lack fortitude or have a tendency to take minor rejection personally, then being a writer will be tough for you.
It’s already been touched on that writing puts pressure on relationships with others. But you must also recognise that much of your time will be spent completely on your own, which tests your relationship with yourself. Yes, you will need to engage in conversations with people, but it will mostly be done via email and the odd telephone call. Beyond that, your writing will take place in your house or in a cafe, working by yourself. There won’t be any co-workers there to take lunch with or talk about your weekends. Being comfortable on your own is essential, otherwise, it will prove much harder indeed.
The above points are in no way meant to drive you away from your dream of becoming a writer. Instead, the idea is to provide a fair overview of how hard is it to become a writer, what becoming a writer is really like, and some of the difficult hurdles you will face and need to overcome. Though despite all of the above, there is one overarching factor that should help you overcome these difficulties, and that is a truly deep-driven passion for the art of writing.
This passion will help you through the hard times and make your writing sublime during the good times. So take some real time to be honest with yourself and examine your motives for wanting to be a writer. Then, set about preparing a routine for achieving your independence. After that, it’s simply a case of sticking to it and taking the good with the bad.
Main image credit: @markheybo