Skip To Content

    Being A Writer: Expectations Vs. Reality

    For everyone who has 20 pages of the next Great American Novel. Or two pages. Any pages, really.

    1. Expectation: Woo-hoo! You're armed with an MFA and you are going to write the s*%t out of your first book!

    Reality: You don't actually have anything to write about yet.

    2. Expectation: Once you've gotten started, you'll work on your book nonstop, fueled by creative passion.

    Reality: Your moments of creative passion will come at odd times and may require liquid or food reinforcements.

    3. Expectation: Using a vintage typewriter will turn you into a truly authentic writer.

    Reality: Typewriters are THE WORST.

    4. Expectation: Your technology will never fail you! Your MacBook is your best friend.

    Reality: Let's talk again the first time you lose your ENTIRE book and NO, YOU DIDN'T BACK UP, thanks for asking.

    5. Expectation: This is your idea of a "working writer."

    Reality: This is what many a working writer looks like.

    6. Expectation: You are confident that you have what it takes to make it.

    Reality: Writing is the hardest thing ever!

    7. Expectation: You'll become part of an inspiring community of writers who all support each other and love each other.

    Reality: Maybe don't expect anyone to hold your hand.

    8. Expectation: You'll wake up bright and early every morning, totally ready to spend the next eight hours immersed in the world of your story.

    Reality: You really can't work without Freedom, the app popular with writers that shuts off your WiFi connection for a certain amount of time.

    9. Expectation: Once you've gotten a draft of your novel, you're fairly certain you've written the next Infinite Jest.

    Reality: You've written something that is in fact completely confusing. And now you have to revise for, like, a million years.

    10. Expectation: You'll have a book deal in no time because your idea "is better than 99% of the other ideas out there."

    Reality: Many weird ideas will sell before yours. Some may even be written by your friends.

    11. Expectation: As a writer, you will have a special and beautiful space in which you craft your beauteous prose.

    Reality: You never use that room. This is how you do all your writing.

    12. Expectation: Your friends will give you honest critiques of your work.

    Reality: They just might.

    13. Expectation: Even if you haven't had your big break yet, you'll still live like a writer and practice your craft every day.

    Reality: You feel guilty about how little you've written, so instead you take to Instagram to make it seem like you've just banged out 2,000 words.

    14. Expectation: You'll just start a blog, it'll become super popular, and you won't even have to find an agent! They'll call you!

    Reality: You'll have to write a detailed proposal, or write your whole book first before you start querying agents. And then, you will find that it takes many, many emails and time.

    15. Expectation: Your daydreams of sharing your work at literary salons or at readings look like this.

    Reality: Reading in public is a huge, huge deal, and you need to psyche yourself up to do it.

    16. Expectation: Once you've gotten one book under your belt, you'll decamp to Paris for a bit and write from a rooftop garret.

    Reality: Maybe settle for a month in Paris in an Airbnb rental that looks vaguely like the 1998 Ikea catalog instead.

    17. Expectation: You are going to be the voice of your generation.

    Reality: If you work hard enough, you may be A voice of A generation.