Writing Advice: Grip on Realilty


If you were to ask someone what the most romanticized careers are, I’d be willing to bet that ‘author’ would be fairly close to the top of that list. People sit around and fantasize about becoming an author. Tons of people say the words, ‘I’d like to write a novel,’ but very few actually put in the work to do so. Even some authors say that they enjoy having written more than they do the actual act of writing. Let’s face it, sitting down in front of the computer and actually putting down some words is a difficult exercise. To get that writing done, you need to let go of the romanticized version of your writing and become grounded in the reality that writing can be hard work.

Margaret Atwood, in one of her 10 Rules of Writing, mentions this very thing. In this item on her list, Atwood mentions having the nuts and bolts of writing — words and grammar — and also a grip on reality.

You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

As she says, writing is work. You’re taking a chance by choosing writing as your life’s work and it means you have to dedicate yourself once you’ve chosen it. After all, no one made you write. You’re doing it because, presumably, you enjoy it. So do the work that’s needed and you’re sure to receive a good payoff in the end.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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