Why Writing Used To Suck (but doesn’t anymore)
Writing can be a frustrating experience. One imperfect word can mess up an entire sentence. Readers can interpret something you wrote literally when you thought your sarcasm was obvious (or vice-versa). Writers block seems to hit at the worst moments. As maddening as writing can be, it’s much easier today than it has ever been. Here are a few reasons why.
- Writing used to be physically difficult.
In the past, authors had to hold a pencil or a pen and physically write out each word on a sheet of paper. Even worse, back in the really old days, writers had to dip quills into ink, and then they’d get beaten by monks if they made a mistake.
Using a typewriter could be even more frustrating than holding a pen/quill. Before computers and word processing, if you weren’t a good typist, you spent more time making corrections than actually writing. The most frustrating weekend I ever had was during my senior year in high school when I had to type out my own term paper for English class. An entire Saturday was spent making corrections with white-out or retyping pages altogether. My mom, who typed 70 words a minute, said it taught me a valuable lesson, to always have a few spare bucks lying around to pay somebody to type my essays in college.
Writing with a computer/tablet is much easier than using a typewriter, pencil, or quill, and we don’t get beaten by monks when we make mistakes.
- Writers used to get ignored.
Without the internet, it was really tough for a writer to get readers. 20 years ago, if I wanted an audience, I had to join a writer’s group, and even then, I had to wait until the next meeting (which could have been a week, two weeks, or even a month away, depending on the group) before I received any feedback for my writing.
When I was sending manuscripts out to literary agents and publishing companies back then, I’d rarely get meaningful feedback. I usually received form rejection letters, and I wondered if anything I wrote actually got read. The only feedback I could get was from family or friends who told me I was great. I can’t blame them. If they offered any valid criticism, I’d fume. Looking back, I was probably too sensitive.
Things have changed. Today, writers can get instant feedback. With blogs, Twitters, Instagrams, ebooks, and much more, writers have a bunch of choices of how they want to write. As long as writers are patient, we can eventually get an audience.
With a blog, I get much more feedback more quickly than I used to. Even the negative feedback is positive. When I received my first “You suck!” comment a few years ago, I knew I was finally doing something right. I’d rather get a “You suck!” comment than a form rejection letter. Maybe literary agents and publishing companies should just send out “You suck!” notes. It might make everybody involved in the process feel better.
- Self-publishing used to be almost impossible.
Before the internet, if writers wanted to self-publish, we had to deal with shady companies that sent us cheap looking books that we had to sell in parking lots. Even if you sold your self-published book at a book store, you lost your credibility when you badgered customers in the parking lot and pulled the copies from the trunk of your car. When you reach for something in the trunk of your car, nobody knows what you’re reaching for.
It was frustrating to writers. Even if we thought we had something publishable, too much was out of the writer’s control. Unless we had connections or were willing to send money to a shady outfit to print our books for us, we were most likely never going to be published.
Now, instead of dealing with small unknown shady self-publishing companies, we can use Amazon. At least Amazon is not small or unknown. I published my own ebook on Amazon, and I didn’t have to deal with anybody else. I didn’t have to spend any money either. I mean, I know it shows that I didn’t spend any money, but that’s okay. If I had spent money without good results, my wife might have gotten ticked off at me. At least now I’m having fun. And my wife isn’t mad at me. That means a lot to me.
As long as my writing doesn’t cause my wife to get mad at me, then writing does not suck.