Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Everyone Wants to Write a Book

Well, maybe not "Everyone." But according to surveys published in the New York Times, USA Today, and other online forums between 2002 and 2016, over 80% of Americans dream of writing a book. Of course this doesn't address the other half of the question: Of this 80%, how many actually set out to do it? 

Regardless of the answer, there's this little sweetheart to contend with:

According to Utterances of an Overcrowded Mind
"Out of every 1,000 people that set out to write a book, only 30 actually finish. And if you then add on top of that the fact that only 20% of people who write a book actually publish it, this means only 6 people get published."
This would be a good time to note that the author of this post never cites any sources for this statistic, so it could be total hogwash. Nor did he mention whether "published" includes self-publishing and/or publishing through independent presses. 

So maybe this statistic needs tweaking (it definitely needs backing). Still, I tend to believe its basic premise: The majority of people here on planet Earth will not write a book in their lifetime. It's easy to forget this, because when I'm on social networking sites such as twitter, it feels like everyone and their mother is a writer. I'd estimate that at least 2,000 of my 'friends'/followers are published. But here is where I need to remind myself that I spent years deliberately building connections with published authors. These numbers do not reflect the world I physically live in day-by-day.

In real life, I do not have one single flesh-and-blood friend who is published. In fact, I work for the largest employer in my hometown with over 2,500 staff members. Of these staff members, there are exactly two who are published authors. A 6th grade teacher, Mr. A. (from one of our local elementary schools), and me. Two. Of over 2,500.

That's a more accurate representation of real life. 

So I guess the moral of the story is, I need to give myself permission to feel good over writing a book. Instead of wallowing in writer's guilt for being such a slow writer, for not cranking out my next book fast enough, for derailing from writing for months at a time, for being terrible at marketing the f*ing thing...why not simply feel damned good for being amongst the 3% (of a possibly bogus statistic) that actually finished writing a book in the first place?

So if you too have finished a manuscript (or are on the verge of doing so), repeat after me: 

Bite me self-doubt, I wrote a book.