What it takes to be a writer (in public)

There is a void between writing for oneself and writing for others. A chasm deep and fearsome. One which has the power to prevent some people from making the leap from one realm to the other.

I thought about this after having received 15 submissions from fellow writers for my Dare to Write Summer Writing Challenge. Fifteen writers that all deserve a badge of courage, because that is freaking hard to do. None of these writers has ever met me; they only know me from blogging and maybe some Twitter or Facebook action. Beyond that? They put on some brave and got serious about their writing.

Dare to Write Summer Writing Challenge 2016

Learning how to be a writer in public is part mechanics, part spiritual. There are steps you have to physically take, but if you don’t throw your spirit behind those steps you won’t succeed.

Write with intention. Not only should you treat being a public writer like a job, but you must believe in your work, whether it’s a blog post or your fictional characters. If you’re simply writing for the heck of it, that’s perfectly acceptable, but don’t expect to get anywhere anytime soon—and certainly don’t expect an earnest following outside of your grandma and her parakeets.

Writing on a regular basis is the best way to stay focused and motivated, the best way to grow and learn, and the best way to move forward on your quest. Maybe you can’t write every-freakin’-day, and I get it, even though I hate those non-writing days, myself. I never feel as fulfilled or satisfied at day’s end. If it means I have to sneak in 15 minutes to throw down a fight scene, I’ll do it because I feel healthier in my soul.

Building a street team to help plug your work is a must in this noisy publishing world. Writers might start off solo, but very few stay solo, especially if they want to be in the public eye. Writers need fans, editors, readers, and other writers to help them be seen and read. This takes a lot of time and consideration because not all readers are GOOD readers and not all editors are GOOD editors. You have to be picky and not feel bad about it. Your career is at stake here, so choose #TeamWriter carefully!

Make peace with your demons. Let’s face it—being a writer in public is like inviting all your demons over for tea at your place.


Oftentimes, we have no idea what demons we have to face down until we’ve announced our book is for sale. Heck, we might as well have offered to sell our children to slavery when you consider the subsequent intense denial. Suddenly, we don’t wanna be writers no more. We wanna go back to our re-uhl jobs and stay nice and qui-qui.

Puh-leese. No. That is the WORST thing you can do—giving into the fear of being a writer in public. Yes, it’s freaking scary. Yes, it’s freaking hard. Yes, it’s eating away at your sleep and what little mental stability you have left but so what? That’s what being a writer is all about! Get out there or get off the pot!

Demons will come and go. Writing will only stick around as long as you give it attention. And that’s the whole bottom-line of writing in general: Let writing go, and you could lose it forever.

It’s cool if you want to be a private writer. Privacy is a writer’s roots, and we must never underestimate its power and grace.

For those of you who long to be in the public eye, I encourage you to take those steps that require action and spirit, the ones that will help you grow, falter, and grow some more.

To all the writers who submitted a piece for the Dare to Write Summer Writing Challenge, I am still reading and writing feedback! I haven’t forgotten you! Soon you’ll be hearing from me–I promise!

Have a writerly day, y’all!


20 thoughts on “What it takes to be a writer (in public)

  1. Thank you for the ‘get off the pot’ post! 🙂 What you say here is SOOOOOO true. It took me years of writing (and all that time, also teaching creative writing classes) to finally feel brave enough to say, “I’m a writer.” One of the best ways to acknowledge our passion and our gift it to start a blog. Wow, the support, encouragement, advice, feedback, critiquing, praise you receive helps that writer’s hat stay securely on the head. The next step is to write a book or a story to be published. That’s the long process, the torture and ordeal-that-sometimes-never-ends. But it’s worth every battle-scar. It proves that YOU ARE A WRITER.
    🙂 Thanks, Kate.


    • Blogging is a perfect toe-dipping way to enter the public eye. Also, joining a local writers group can help ease that anxiety. Once you have that in the bag, I think it is easier to make a commitment to those longer, more difficult works (like a novel), because now you see what you’re capable of accomplishing!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh yes, the anxiety that comes with putting our work out there is real. I suppose it’s always there to some degree no matter how many books an author has published. But hopefully it gets easier as our confidence grows.


    • That’s awesome MJ! To take a risk and never look back. I think in this fast-paced, saturated field, we have to just put our stuff out there when we feel we’re ready. I’m glad you’re having a positive experience with being a published author!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Unzipping your soul–absolutely! That naked exposure to the world, at your most vulnerable, is enough to make or break anyone. I think when we set ourselves up for success (strong writing, strong editing, strong marketing), then the rewards are plentiful!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I attended a lecture given by an Irish author once and his first question to the audience was what are you most scared of? My own answer was revealing: I am afraid of being a success and not having the freedom and time to write. I wonder how many successful authors felt this way?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy my re-uhl job and staying qui-qui…but I also long to be a public writer. I feel like I’m getting closer with the support of writer/reader/blogger inspirations like you, Kate, who have pushed me out of the wading pool, at least, and gotten me to focus more closely on my craft in recent years. (No more info-dump recaps at the start of a chapter for me, no way!) Hopefully, someday soon. 🙂

    Thanks again for this summer’s Dare to Write challenge. I had a lot of fun doing it. I hope you’re enjoying all the new stories you’ve gotten to read, too!


    • That’s great that you like your re-uhl job! 😉 So many people out there don’t–but that’s another topic entirely.

      I’m happy that I’ve been a positive influence, Mayumi. That’s one of my major goals as a writer–to be a support. There are too many writers out there who are struggling. They think that all that blanket info applies to them and they are stuck. I want writers to know that everyone can write a good book, one that could even sell, as long as they do the necessary work and stop shutting themselves down.

      You are very welcome for the challenge. I am really psyched at the turn-out. I’m thoroughly enjoying the reading! Hopefully I’ll be done reading and commenting this week and doling out prizes next week! Aaanndd, I’m already plotting my next writing challenge–bwahahaha!

      Liked by 1 person

      • i do feel extremely lucky to be in the position I’m in, where I actually enjoy my day job. More than once, it’s helped me get up for it in the morning! 🙂

        I can’t wait to read about your next challenge! I miss the days of participating in the 100WCGUs and Five Sentence Fictions. I know I still could, but it’s just not as much fun when I’m writing with strangers.

        It’s great to see how much you support your writers and writer friends! I strive to follow your example in the ways I can. ❤


  5. And THIS is why I want to get back into blogging. I’ve been so slack with it over the last several months, but I miss the interactions, and the supportive encouragement like this! And darn it, I missed your Dare to Write challenge! Maybe you’ll do another once next summer and I’ll pay more attention 🙂

    I find it really hard to keep up with all the online stuff we’re “supposed” to do if we want to keep a good public profile to support our writing. I’ve currently got a few writing projects on the go, and I find they take all my “spare” time. As always, I just think I need to be smarter with with my time management!


  6. The hardest thing is reading the one-star reviews and not taking it personally. I’ve had to learn that books are like people. Some I naturally like, some I don’t. And some people I like, my friends don’t. Books are the same way. It’s not always the book’s fault that we don’t click. And the same is true for readers. When I get a one star review, I remind myself this is a reader, but not a reader who is a good match for my book.


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