No, I will not write your book for you

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Should fiction writers join a writing group?
Writers: Coping with negative reviews

write book writersWriters hear it all the time, especially fiction writers. “Hey, I’ve got a story idea for you!” Really? How nice. Often the person with the story idea is only trying to be helpful, but other times they have dollar signs in their eyes. For that second type of person, words to this nature usually soon come spewing forth, “How about I give you the idea, you write it and sell it and we split the profits?”

Please. As if coming up with the ideas is the hard part. Writing is a lot of work. Sure, it’s sitting in front of a keyboard and typing away, but it’s a lot more than that. There’s the editing and rewriting. Then there’s the marketing work the writer has to do. And the writer has to find an editor, a publisher, an agent, an audience. Most importantly, there’s the mental drain that can come with writing. Sure, the writer is flying high emotionally when the words are rolling out great, but an hour or two after that the same writer is drained. He or she might be feeling fantastic, but they’re still going to be tired and in need of a mental break before getting back to work. I won’t even mention the nights when the words aren’t coming out so well.

Most people who aren’t writers don’t realize all this. Writing isn’t as easy as it looks. My late wife found that out the hard way when she decided to begin working on a novel after years of seeing me do so. She wrote nine pages, then let me look at it. It was actually pretty good, though I had some suggestions. She was interested enough to keep at it. I was glad for her, but I never wanted to write it for her. Nor do I want to write anyone else’s novel for them. I don’t want to type it up for you. I don’t want to edit it. I don’t want to try to find an agent or publisher for you. I’ll read over it and offer pointers, maybe, but that’s about it. Writing is work. It’s my job. You wouldn’t want me to show up at your job and say, “Hey! I’ve got a great idea that will increase your workload a whole bunch. How about you do all the work, then we’ll split the money? What do you say?” You’d probably call security.

Believe me, I don’t need help with my writing. I have more ideas than I’ll ever be able to write down within one lifetime. If science ever comes up with some way to extend human life, I’m interested. But not just because I want to live longer. I’d want to write more.

If you’re truly interested in telling a story, then you need to be the one to write it. Someone else, no matter how talented a writer they might be, will not be able to tell the story the way you want it told. They will not be able to put the words in your voice, to do the story the justice it deserves. It’s your story. Not only should you be the one to tell it, you are the only one who can tell it. At least with your vision.

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A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. He is vice president of Rogue Blades Foundation, a non-profit focused upon publishing heroic literature. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, and bourbon. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.

  1. Professor Bill
    | Reply

    When I finished my business degree I got people with a flimsy business who wanted me to market their business for them, promising a “letter of recommendation” for my services, as opposed to an actual paycheck.
    I always asked, “What is your sales or service?” Whatever the answer I would then say, “That’s pretty cool! Could I get your service/ item for free? I’ll give you a good recommendation in lieu of payment.”
    I never understood why they were so insulted after that 😛

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