So it turns out writing a novel takes a lot of freaking time. Like, a lot. And last time I checked there are still only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Furthermore, it is scientifically impossible to find success as a novelist without writing a novel. (Seriously, it’s science, people.)
This leads to a horrible conundrum with which I’m sure a lot of you can relate. Namely, this time has to come from somewhere, which means, that it’s going to cut into time with your friends and family. Which means you’re going to have a couple options: (1) You can make up a serious, yet sporadic disease that will allow you to quarantine yourself in your room while you secretly write a book; (2) you may spontaneously adopt a new religion that requires you to become a hermit; (3) you can admit that what you’re actually doing is writing and risk suffering a million “Next Great American Novel” jokes potentially for all time.
But seriously, it can be hard for your friends and family to know how to take the fact that you suddenly want to spend beaucoup time writing. Sure, you know that you’re doing all the research, checking all the message boards, stalking every agent/editor on Twitter, but for all they know you’re writing haiku on a napkin and thinking it’s art, yanno? So, it can be awkward and embarrassing to try to legitimize this time you’re spending. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from my writer friends that their spouse/kids/friends/parents are somewhat incredulous about the necessity of taking time off to write.
For me, ghostwriting has helped me legitimize that. First and foremost, it’s allowed me to point to contracts and deadlines and say, “No, I HAVE to get this done. It’s no longer an, “I want to get this done” or “This is important to me.” It’s an “I will break this contract if I don’t get my work finished.” Plus, I make money doing it. Money people understand, even when they don’t necessarily understand the desire to get something published. Maybe it’s silly and, I’m certainly not saying that my friends and family weren’t supportive before, but it has personally helped me be more okay with taking time to improve my and work on my craft.
Also, I think it’s good because it’s been a way to show my non-writer peeps that this is something I’m actually serious about. I’m not writing haikus on napkins. I have some talent for it–or at least enough of a stubborn streak to figure it out–and I’ve experience a degree of success at it.
They know I can complete a novel. And my parents or whoever can point to a series on the shelf and say, Hey, THAT is what Chandler writes for. I think, all around, it makes people a bit more comfortable with the number of hours I spend on this whole thing. And it makes getting my own work published seem not so far off.
So, if you’re looking into ghostwriting and you’re thinking about how your name won’t appear on the spine, I’ve got to say, this benefit has been significant–at least for me! But hey, if you’re looking for other ways to legitimize your time, here are some ideas:
1. Share an industry blog with your people–I suggest Miss Snark because it’s fun and interesting and gives a great behind-the-scenes look of how books are made and how difficult it is to get an agent/book deal
2. Explain what you’re doing with your time, how you’re connecting with other writers, and the process of critiquing
3. Give some stats — How many writers query, get full requests, get agents, whatever…know your stuff
4. Submit short stories & enter contests
5. Join SCBWI or other writer organizations and offer to write articles for them
6. Have a blog/website
Alright, y’all, I’m enjoying the comments and the new subscribers! Next week I’ll take a couple of your questions and answer them and I’ll continue on my list of what ghostwriting has done for me! And what about you guys? How do you justify the time you take to improve your writing? Have you ever felt embarrassed? Am I being too self-conscious?? What do you think?