The Necessary Evils Of Writing – Meet Becca!

No “to do list” post today, but only because I have a special guest AND you lot get the chance to win a FREEBIE! 🙂

Becca Puglisi is one half of the successful blogging team at The Bookshelf Muse who, back in May, released their first book (I say first, as going by this one, there will be more I’m sure of it!). The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writers Guide to Character Expression Lists the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with 75 different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion. The Emotion Thesaurus is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, and the PDF can be purchased directly from her blog.

If you haven’t got a copy already OMG where have you been?

The Necessary Evils of Writing

Last winter, I attended an unusual orchestra performance that included a Q&A with the conductor and musicians. After one segment, a question was directed to the oboe player. I knew some oboe stuff—mainly, that it’s a woodwind instrument and it’s black. Impressive, I know. What I didn’t realize was that while other people go to the Miscellaneous Music Paraphernalia store to buy pieces for their instruments, oboe players make their own reeds. And when the oboe player was asked how much of his working time he spent fashioning them, I was floored when he off-handedly responded, “Fifty percent.”

HALF of his time, shaping and scraping reeds! I honestly had a hard time fathoming this. I mean, musicians become musicians because of their love of music, because they want to play it, create it, enjoy it. Yet for half of his “work” time, an oboe player isn’t playing a single note.


But when I started considering this information in light of other professions, I realized that it’s a fairly common scenario. I used to teach elementary school. I chose that career because I enjoyed teaching. I was good at it. But I discovered early on that I’d be spending just as much time writing lesson plans, grading papers, managing behavior, conferencing with parents, attending faculty meetings, and supporting various school functions. I may not have particularly enjoyed these things, but they were necessary to the job.

And now I’m learning that it’s no different for authors. We really just want to write, but how much of our allocated work time is spent on social networking, promotion, doing market research, and sending out queries? These are things I don’t like doing. Some of these things I’m shockingly bad at. But they’re necessary. To make a successful career as a writer, I need to do many, many things that don’t add to the word count of my current WIP.

Don’t misunderstand me. The writing is the most important thing. No amount of social networking and market research is going to make you successful without a quality product, which can only be accomplished through lots and lots of writing. But all the other stuff is important, too.

The oboe player, when asked his question, didn’t sigh or respond bitterly or shake his fist at the sky and go off on an artistic tirade. He accepted, as a matter of course, that the time spent fashioning his reeds was crucial to achieving his goal of making beautiful music. So I’m taking a leaf from his book. I will no longer complain about having to do the things that are necessary to make me a success. I will allocate the time I have to complete these tasks (without sacrificing my writing). Though I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable striking up conversations with strangers at conferences, I can at least do it without fear and trembling and the gnashing of teeth. Instead, I’ll look at it as something that needs to be done to achieve my goal, and do it the best I can. Then when I do get back to writing, I can go with a clear conscience, knowing that I’ve done everything possible to make my dream come true. And I’ll be encouraging my writer friends to do the same.

So, think about the “writing things” that you don’t enjoy doing—things you know you need to do, but frankly, you’d rather be writing. Pick ONE that you will choose to look at as a necessity rather than a burden to weigh you down. I’d love to know what it is, so I can shake the writerly pom-poms in your general direction. What boring, unpleasant, or phobia-inducing part of the successful writer’s agenda will you embrace today?

Thanks Becca 🙂
For me, it has to be editing *groan* I just hate it with a passion lol

So what writing thing don’t you enjoy doing? Leave a comment and next Sunday I’ll get Becca to randomly select one of you to receive a FREE PDF copy of The Emotion Thesaurus 🙂 Now that’s a great deal, don’t you think? 😉

71 thoughts on “The Necessary Evils Of Writing – Meet Becca!

  1. For me, it’s typing up the 50 thousand words I wrote on paper last month on paper. Ugh, such a chore… I was participating in Camp NaNoWriMo to write minimum 50k for a novel in the month of August. I succeeded, at least.


  2. Awesome!
    I’d have to think hard to come up with something I don’t like (since I find editing a soothing pastime–sorting words seems to make things right with the world. What can I say?)
    I think I’d have to say that sharing my writing with someone for the first time makes my stomach churn and is really hard for me. Will they hate it? Will they laugh? Will they not understand what I’m trying to say?
    The flip side of this is that sometimes (often in fact 🙂 ) they’ll end up loving it! Maybe someday I’ll stop being nervous about it.


  3. I hate doing research. I’m not talking about the time I went to the hospital and asked the desk lady where the icu patients were kept and how to get to them. I’m talking about googling stuff and scouring wiki. Ugh. Not to mention I’m certain my searches have gotten me firmly placed on several government watch lists.


  4. My weakness is marketing. I can praise someone else’s books up and down, but to pat myself on the back and praise my own work is very, very difficult. I also feel really ‘weird’ about asking people to help promote something of mine. I know I have to do it but it feels ‘selfish’ to toot my own horn and ask others to toot along with me. I’d much rather help others to promote their works.


    • I totally feel your pain here. Marketing doesn’t come naturally to me, or to most writers, I’d guess. I heard someone say that on most personality tests, writers and marketers are on opposite ends of the spectrum, so it’s definitely something I have to force myself to do. But it’s also one of those necessary things that have to be done for us to succeed. So, ugh! Onward!


  5. For me, it is definitely writing and sending queries. I have a terrible fear that my queries will come across as weak and amateurish and won’t get my writing so much as a glance from an agent or editor.


  6. Wonderful comparison! Tae Kwon-do is similar. Exercising and other sports are helpful in keeping you fresh without doing TKD every day. I don’t know why I brought that up I’m so unfit right now 😉 I’ll move the Thesaurus further up my TBR pile. Thanks ladies.


  7. The writing thing I do not enjoy doing is the actual start. I can do lots of planning, research, work on characters and more. But when it comes to the actual start I am often putting it off. It is an odd thing really as when I start and get some words down, then I am fine to get going and continue.

    Even more odd is I do not have this problem on blog posts, short fiction or poems. I can get them down in next to no time.


      • Probably just scared to start the larger project. It means seeing if all the ideas and what not, work on the page. I suppose on smaller works, yes I know straight away (and it is easy to dispose of if rubbish).


    • I have a little bit of this, too, Elliot. Except with me it’s pretty much the start of every scene. It just takes me awhile to get into it–so much more work than the rest of the drafting. Thanks for sharing!


  8. I hate sitting in a chair for hours writing. I’ve not only produced a prodigious amount of material but I’ve become the proud owner of cellulite.

    I absolutely love to write and the writing process but it’s the stationary nature of it that I hate. Maybe I just need some super comfortable chairs…


  9. It’s the trying to sell the book stuff I don’t really like. I’m happy blogging and social networking and chatting to people about writing, but don’t like pushing for publicity or asking people to buy.


  10. I really can’t stand most of the social networking that I’m involved in. I hate twitter, think tumblr is a little crazy, and I don’t even have an author facebook page. It’s just SO. MUCH. RANDOMNESS.


      • I think people just want to get to now writers on a personal level to some extent and it’s just hard to do that when there are millions of people using these sites.


      • Bleh. I think the key is to find one, maybe two, networks that you enjoy. Apathy is going to come through after while, so it’s better to stick with what you like. Unless, of course, you don’t like any of them. Again, I say Bleh.


  11. This got the brain cells working overtime! How many professions do give you the ability to do that one thing you love? I’m sure most writers would love their books to be instantly successful as if by magic so they could write to their hearts content in an inspiring place of their choice. I’m off to investigate…!


  12. Editing is mine. I’ve abandoned pieces that could’ve been something if I would edit them. The moulder in my document box. Sad little pieces. The tedium of it does me in.


  13. Someone has said ‘starting to write’ – the process of beginning something new. Well, I’m the opposite: as I divulged in my most recent writing blog post I have a huge problem finishing stories…I get so into them and don’t want to stop. But, as pointed out so defly in this blog – finishing pieces is a necessity…So, must learn how to do that productively! lol!
    Fab guest post, fab blog altogether…hope you still managed to tick off some of your to do list!
    Take Care, Cat x


  14. Vikki, I’m with you. I love drafting, hate editing! The little line by line tweaks, the word swap outs…they drive me crazy, but as Becca says, these are necessary evils to putting out a book you’re really proud to have your name on. 🙂

    Thanks so much for hosting Becca! I appreciate the heck out of her and love her insight on writing. No matter what topic she picks, I always see things in a different light. 🙂



  15. Necessary evil of writing: Marketing. I’m no where close to be being publishable for my three novels but I see the sheer amount of work that my published friends put into making sure that they get their book out to possible readers and I wonder “Will I ever be able to do all that?”

    My current solution is to Not Think About It and focus on writing.


    • For what it’s worth, I think waiting is wise. We all will have to market our work, and we should start building interest before we actually begin the publication process. But a quality product is the most important thing, so definitely work on that first!


  16. I can imagine how frustrating editing has to be, which is why I have become a freelance editor and help authors edit their books. Be in touch if you need help, although I tend to be scheduled out a few months most times. So glad you came by my blog and we “met” – I’m your newest follower 🙂



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