If you've ever wanted to become a professional writer, or you are eager to become one, that is a fairly bold choice in our modern times.
The modern writing environment in which writers are practicing their craft has changed greatly, and there are some big issues writers are facing today.
For starters, you will be required to prove the strength of your talent and writing abilities a great number of times before you get the recognition you deserve.
To help you understand and navigate a career path in writing, we decided to warn you in advance about the situations and environment in which you have to develop your writing profession and what to prepare for as a writer.
Without further ado, here’re are some of the main issues affecting writers and the writing profession today:
1. Too Many “Writers”
Today, everyone who has learned to quickly tap their fingers on the keyboard can easily think of themselves as a writer.
Everyone who’s created a website, and this is extremely easy and quick to do these days with the help of designers and do-it-yourself website builder, can already assume that they took the first step to become writer and attract readers.
Similarly, everyone who regularly writes something on their blog or who has profiles on social media might already consider themselves worthy of a place among the world’s list of renowned writers, despite not actually writing any classics.
Thing is that technology has disrupted everything in such a way that there are no longer strict rules of entry into the literary world. It now doesn’t really matter if you have a real talent or not, anyone can easily call themselves a writer and point to a self-published book. In fact, it doesn’t even matter that those self-published works are far from true works of literature in its best sense. There are way too many “writers” today.
The Internet is also teeming with long manuals on topics like, “How to write a book if I can't write,” “How to convince the publisher that your book is worthy of attention,” “How to write a book in a week”, and a lot more fantastic nonsense that only provokes pseudo-writers to write even more in the hope of being noticed and published.
This is a concerning issue of the 21st century because real talent is drowning in the sea of untalented crowd of wannabe writers who are constantly being urged to keep churn out books when the harsh truth is that they are not talented or cut out for it.
A real talented writer today has a harder time proving their potential in these very difficult conditions where so many untalented people publish poor quality books.
2. Too Much Competition
You might wonder what the difference is between this and the previous point. But there is a difference, which can be considered the back of the same coin.
The internet is full of mediocre writers and authors, but talented writers also exist. However, the talented writers are in short or insufficient supply.
Thus, really talented writers have to fight at least two battles at once—one with those who just want to be called a writer, and with those who really have the talent and potential to be great writers and authors.
And also, the many different ways to promote your creativity and writings on the Internet make the competition between countless real and fake talents stronger than ever before.
3. Too Much Reused and Copied Ideas
Taking into account the amount of information that is produced and reproduced on the internet daily, it is really hard to come up with something new. If 100 years ago the authors had great scope for creativity and imagination, today one can argue that we’ve already covered everything and published books on all possible topics and genres.
Each idea any writer might consider has arguably already been written, transcribed, adapted, translated and chewed hundreds of thousands of times. It is almost impossible to come up with something truly unique.
But there is a flip side to this—if you manage to create something new, then you are almost guaranteed instant success. Uniqueness in modern literature is quite rare in the 21st century.
Also, modern authors today have to compete in another way, too. They have to contend with established and their own unique authorial styles (fortunately, this is something that just cannot be copied) that’s characterized by interesting plot twists, unexpected literary tricks, atypical characters, and so on.
4. Too Many Critics
Just as everyone who has learned to hold a pen in his hands and type on a computer keyboard can think of themselves as a writer, so too anyone who can read and or has considered being a writer at some point think of themselves as a critic. No, not even that. They often consider themselves a CRITIC, with a capital letter.
In fact, today it’s very easy to publish your “exclusively true opinion” about a book and any piece of writing—just go to the site of your victim and leave a comment. Note that the work of the writer can be really worthwhile, and the comment of the pseudo-critic nothing more than an unreasonable subjective and biased opinion.
Needless to say, faced with such unprofessional criticism, many talented writers simply decide to hide their work, bury their talent and some even choose to never write anything else for fear of the un-constructive criticism of the general public again.
5. Too Many Ways to Promote
Now, you may ask a well-founded question: “Why is this a problem for authors in the 21st century?” “This should not be a problem, but rather the many ways to promote your work are opportunities that did not exist before, right?”
In part, you would be right. Modern authors have received such a powerful set of tools to popularize their work, which was not available to writers in the past. Modern writers can attract readers through an SEO-optimized website, personal blog, social networks, forums, they can create e-books and freely distribute them.
Communication with publishers has also become extremely simple - it is enough to call or write an email. It is also very simple to advertise your creativity through guest posts. So, what is the drawback of all these possibilities?
The disadvantage is that everyone uses them. The networks are crowded with writers who are promoting in these very ways. Your promotions are likely not to get the attention they deserve or that you want from people fatigued with ads and promotions.
The main challenge of the author in the 21st century is to find new ways to tell potential readers about themselves and their work in a memorable and eye-catching way.
6. Literature Consumption Is Not the Same as It Was Before
People no longer read books in the same way that they read them before. Instead, we’ve adapted to reading blogs, social media feeds, quickly browse listings, and watch videos. Of course, some people have not lost their love for printed works and can reason with the writer, but the trend in literature consumption is no longer the same.
Want a clear example of this?
Do you remember the kind of hype that was around the book “50 Shades of Gray”? Yes, to some extent the author has done a great job - the idea is relatively new, no one had thought of providing the rich prince from a fairy tale with some strange inclinations. (And by the way, if you had the imprudence to read “120 Days of the Sodom” by Marquise de Sade, then Christian Gray no longer can impress you.)
“50 Shades of Gray” was quite a sensation among the masses not just fans of erotic novels. Therefore, the main challenge of the modern writer is to realize what modern literature is turning into and try to add their own contribution to what the people want, while still weaving in their own style, messages and little idiosyncrasies.
All these issues don't sound very optimistic, do they? But in fact, not everything is as bad as it might seems. Every contemporary problem has an upside from which one can benefit.
Let’s not forget that literature is primarily about talent and art. It’s also about addressing issues and finding the best solutions for them.