Worry About the Writing, Not About Being a Writer

Allison Amend

If you could write a letter to your younger writing self, what would you say? Author Allison Amend has imagined and written such a letter. Here’s how she starts:

I see you worrying endlessly about your future, and I just wanted to write you a letter and reassure you that fifteen years from now you will still worry endlessly. But you will be worrying about the writing, rather than about being a writer.

Read the entire letter over at Glimmer Train.

Also, check out these other pieces from the latest bulletin:

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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I love this!

Esther Aspling

I’d add, “worry about being real, not about how people will see you.”


Barry Knister
Barry Knister

I feel moved to amend Allison’s letter. Everything in it, all the advice she offers to her young students relates to the quickly fading world of legacy publishing. Nothing in it speaks to the massive changes underway in the business. I would like to think, though, that her charges will follow her advice about paying attention to the writing, not to their role as writers. But in a climate that more and more requires writers to market themselves, to “game the system” through social media at the expense of time devoted to craft, this will be hard for them to… Read more »

Jill Kemerer
Jill Kemerer

I needed this today, Jane and Allison (thanks, Wendy Miller, for sharing it!) It’s refreshing to read a writer’s journey that wasn’t perfect and miraculous! You give me hope.

Paula Cappa

I like Barry’s comment and applaud it. It appears to me that MFA grads often do get an automatic pass into publishing which makes them woefully unprepared for the real business of writing. But I’d like to point out that the majority of highly talented and devoted “writers” out there are NOT MFA grads. They are hard working writers who produce consistently good work without the elite MFA pass into the industry, without agents to advise them or publishers to support them artistically, and without a group of handy professors praising their work. These writers juggle jobs and family, struggle… Read more »


[…] Worry About the Writing, Not About Being a Writer | Jane Friedman […]

Trendyglitzstocks Markmtk

I’m not in the least worried about the book, I’m working on because, I know it is going to be a desired book however; as a first time writer, I have concerns but no worries since, I have full confidence in my work. I’m not going to wait around years to get my first book published so I’ve decided to go with Amazon because, I believe if a book does well there, agents and publishers will get interested. Let’s face it, they want to make money and if they see a book is selling like hotcakes, they want in on… Read more »


[…] Worry About the Writing, Not About Being a Writer–Jane Friedman […]

Catherine Kane Writes
Catherine Kane Writes

Really liked this. It captures the combination of faith in one work and perfect imperfection that so many of us writers experience in life. Even when we’re doing good writing the smoke alarm will go off, and we’ll feel uncertain at times and our good work will be bested by something else either better or more to the taste of the judges.
But we keep on writing… because, as writers, that’s what we do…