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Pen IN Hand
Writers As Complainers
By Peggy Bechko
August, 2007, 15:30

It's amazing how often I talk to writers (I hate to say it, but they’re usually newer writers) who do nothing but complain. They complain they don't have time to write (well, then don't); that they're not salespeople, they're writers (I beg to differ); that they’re just no good at spelling and grammar (no kidding? And you think you're a writer?); that they just can't find any markets (you do know about the web and the library, right?).
With so much complaining and whining, it's not surprising these people can't master what they flatly state they cannot. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; self-sabotage they can't see themselves creating.
So maybe it's time to stop all that complaining and get down to business. First, nobody said anybody has to be a writer. That's something a person decides for himself. And while writers are not exactly an oppressed, enslaved minority, the writer’s life is no cake walk, so let's address those complaints one at a time. 

  1. I have no time to write.
    Well, duh, who the heck does have time to write, especially when they're just beginning? Do you think all those well-known, successful writers had trust funds or won the lottery before they got going? Doubt it. Unless they were incredibly lucky, they did something else before they became writers; but while they were doing it, they carved out chunks of time and wrote whenever they could. You could, too. Or not. Your choice. 

  2. I'm a writer, not a salesperson.
    Well okay, then write. However, I guess you don't expect to sell anything Selling your work is a basic part of being a writer. What it boils down to is if you want the money, you're going to have to sell your work to get it. End of story. 

  3. I'm just no good at spelling and grammar.
    Well drat and darn. What'd you do, skip English class? Well, if you intend to be a writer, now is the time to go back. There are lots of online help sites, lots of reference books you can keep on your desk, and lots of community and local colleges that offer basic language or remedial classes. But you don't have to do any of that if you don't want to. Again, it’s your choice. You can always become a house painter, a garbage collector, or something else that doesn't require spelling and grammar. 

  4. I can't locate any markets.
    Wow, really? You can't locate your local library and peruse the latest edition of Writer's Market? No online newsletters to subscribe to that offer market listings? Haven't seen any calls for submissions on the writing sites you should be haunting? Can't analyze a masthead in a magazine, or even know where to find it? Then I'd say it's time to move on. Find another profession. 

But if you're brand spanking new and are serious about filling the gaps in your knowledge, here are a few general tips. 

  1. Read a writing magazine at your local library or subscribe to one. Also, check online for writing ezines. You managed to find IN. That's a strong start.

  2. Consider attending a writing class or reading some how-to books. Again, those books might be found at your local library. And the friendly folks here at IN review three of them each month to help you decide if they might work for you.

  3. Seek out other writers. Perhaps you can find them in a local writer’s group or class in your area. Talk to them. Maybe you'll get lucky and find a mentor. 

  4. Ask your local librarian about writer's markets and how to locate them. There are several good guides; no doubt they'll have them on their shelves. 

  5. Subscribe to online writing sites like the Freelance Writing Organization and newsletters, or join an online writer’s community.

In the end, writing is an ongoing learning process that never stops. That's the fact. If that doesn't appeal to you, or seems too hard, then maybe you should consider another professional direction.

But whatever you decide, let's all stop complaining and get back to work.

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Author of Doubleday western novels, Harlequin romances, Fictionworksfantasies (eBook format), Peggy Bechko has also optioned screenplays domestically and abroad, written for an animated series and for variety of other venues. She's working on a new novel and collaborating on a animated series.

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