Butt in chair: the not so glamorous life of a writer

Everybody dreams of the glamorous author life--fans and money and book signings and interviews and eternal life... But writing isn't what media makes it out to be. It may look easy and a way to make a quick buck, but really it's back pain, missed parties, no friends, anxiety, creative blocks, self-doubt, stress, and tears. I'm sorry, but there isn't anything glamorous about it. Also, there's no magical formula to becoming a famous, best-selling author. 

Writing is hard work, and the world needs to start seeing it that way.

But it isn't only negative. My parents are afraid of me ending up homeless on the streets. That isn't really realistic either though. Authors don't need to be poor, hungry and depressed for the sake of their art. That isn't the point either.

I guess we just want to be considered normal--although we are a bit strange. For writers, being strange is a part of the job description. Writing is just as much of a profession as anything else. Strangeness aside, we are human beings, not immortal deities or starving rats.

For me, writing is magic. It's a possibility to turn words into worlds and characters. I can't even explain how it makes me feel. It's somehow not even human. Writing is magic. But that's what I personally see in my art. To an outside observer, my writing process looks nothing like the glamorous life of famous best selling authors. And that's because reality isn't like that.

The fault isn't only in the media and the people outside the writing community. As writers, we need to ask ourselves what we truly want. Is it money? (Boo on you.) Or fame? Or just a chance to follow your heart and do what's your passion? Do you want to have a big audience, or do you just want to make a living doing what you love?

You need to be clear about your intentions. Be honest to yourself and to your craft. Even though I said boo to you who are only after the money, I also want to congratulate you. You're a rare group. Few artists actually know what they want.

And the thing is, people who know what they want often also get it. However, we need to stop pretending that the process is glamorous. Writers just write. We sit down and type. It's simple, and some days it really sucks. Nothing complicated. No magic formula. 

And if that sounds like it sucks, then you probably can't do it. I personally don't like starting, but when I'm in the groove I feel so alive. If you don't feel something special when you write, it's not for you -- and that's okay. A writer's life isn't glamorous like some make it out to be, but a real writer knows how to make writing feel amazing. First you just put your butt in the chair, and then you type away.

To some it may seem absurd and nightmarish, but to us it's the truest form of magic.

Have a happy writing day,

How to write story beginnings

Starting your novel is a difficult task. It's daunting and scary and the blank page may terrify you. But fear no more, I will share with you my process of beginning a novel project.

Before starting your novel it's important that you have an outline, or if you are more of a pantser, at least know where your story is going. The opening needs to align with the rest of the story and fit the ending. Figuring out the best place to begin telling your story is difficult, but here are some tips to make it easier:


Make a mind map of how you want your story to start. Write down any ideas that come to mind and don't stop until every idea is on paper. Start with the hook and work your way from there. The hook can be on the first page or in the first chapter, but it needs to be there. Draw cute little idea bubbles and expand on your ideas until you have a few scenes that give your reader enough information, but also evoke emotion and raises questions so that they'll keep reading. 

"Start late and leave early."

This tip is so common that it's almost cliche, but it works. Don't write a boring beginning (more on bad novel openers HERE), and don't lie to your reader by faking action with an amazing dream or hallucination. Start right from the inciting incident and keep going forward. When you start as late as possible, your story will already be going and will grab the reader immediately. Don't waste your reader's time on irrelevant information, back story or the character's philosophical thinking. Just get to the point.


The importance of hooks tends to be underestimated. Many writers only put emphasis on one hook, but I try to come up with multiple. Each reader is different and pays attention to different things. In the first paragraph, catch the reader's attention with a detail that pops from the page. Have them asking questions and deliver just enough information in the form of a second hook to keep them reading line after line. Your first line doesn't have to sell your entire novel. Instead, try to make every line sell the next one. A hook shouldn't just  be one big bang in the beginning. You need to keep surprising and hooking the reader more with every line.

Don't worry in the drafting phase

Pressure and perfectionism kills creativity. You just have to get the first draft down before you even worry about the opening of your book. Let it be what it is and forget about it until you start your revisions. If you're still writing your first draft, leave this blog post and get back to writing. Then come back when you have your entire story written down. Knowing the ending of your story is essential to be able to write the most amazing beginning. Trust me, it isn't enough to have an outline, no matter how detailed and perfected. Things will change, characters will evolve and not do as you want them to. Don't waste time if you're going to edit it later anyway. Right now you should just write.

Get feedback
Write the beginning and get feedback. This of course comes after the entire first draft phase, when you've followed all of the earlier steps and gone through your beginning carefully and checked if your beginning follows the first line-, first page- and first chapter checklists (you can find them on the Writers page). Feedback tells you what readers feel as they read. Ask what questions pop into their minds and what didn't make sense. Then just keep perfecting it until you have a perfect book beginning that will get the reader an instant peek into your entire novel's world.

Now that you know what to do, make sure you don't do these ten things! -->  How NOT to write story beginnings

Trust yourself and keep writing!

Creative people are dumb

My day has been awesome. We made documentary style shorts in the lights and filming workshop, and it was super fun. I feel like I'm learning more now every day than I did during all of high school.

My parents and other relatives have always told me that I'm really smart. I believed them until high school, when I realized I don't have the slightest bit intelligence--meaning the type of intelligence people in our society are supposed to have.

I nearly failed all my math, chemistry and physics courses. I got the worst grades in finnish in my class (try learning finnish grammar. Even natives can't do it). I read the textbooks many times before exams, but couldn't remember a thing. I did all I could, but it wasn't enough, and I felt so stupid.

Somehow I managed to graduate, and applied for university. I didn't believe I'd actually get accepted, because I still thought I was stupid. So I spent all spring preparing for a gap year... Well, seems like I wasn't stupid enough.

I am actually not stupid at all, because now I'm getting excellent grades, I understand everything my teachers say and I don't feel lost, frustrated or dumb anymore.

Because intelligence isn't that simple.

Did you know that there are actually NINE different types of intelligence?

"So wait, all people are not the same and can't be good at the same things? Whaaat."

I love school (well, now I do). Education is important and everyone should try to learn as many things as possible.

But school also makes us think that some skills and types of intelligence are more important than others, which isn't right. School made me insecure and forced me to believe there was something wrong with me and that I needed to change to be accepted and liked.

I don't want anyone else to go through that. "Just be you" is something we hear all the time, but most of us don't follow that advice, because even though we want to, it's hard.

Sometimes we don't even know who we really are, because that's not something the world encourages us to. Get to know yourself and don't listen to the voice inside your head telling you that you should be more like this or more like that.

If you are creative, be creative. If you learn languages fast, do that. If you're amazing at math, do math.

Don't ever let yourself think that what somebody else does is more important than what you do. We're too different to be compared. Do what you love and what you're good at. If you aren't sure what that is yet, then make it your mission to find out.

I love film school and learning about storytelling, and although I was extremely unsure in the beginning, I'm learning to become more confident and show what I can do. Because I can finally do stuff! I'm not failing! Yay!

So trust yourself and strengthen your strengths. Life's too short to feel stupid and be frustrated because you aren't doing what you're meant to do. :) ♡♡

Have a happy day of running like on fire toward your dreams!