A while back I had a post with 7 writing tips for new writers. These were some practical tips on the business of writing and just getting started as a writer.
It’s still good advice and worth a look if you haven’t read that post yet. But there is one big concept missing from that list.
The emotional struggle.
Writing, by itself, is easy. You literally put words together and make sentences. Being a writer, however, is extremely difficult. Plotting, planning, creating, storytelling…those things are just one part of it. The other part involves everything else. Networking, editing, querying, marketing, social media, etc. And all of that stuff you need to do, that writer stuff, takes its toll.
So here are three sobering fact about being a writer–and how to better deal with them.
1. Real life will do everything in its power to get in your way
This is the toughest one for me. Things come up. Constantly. You might plan to spend two hours writing, but then whatever can happen does, and all of a sudden that two-hour block becomes thirty minutes. I know this probably more than anyone, with three young kids and another on the way. Sometimes it seems like there’s always something getting in the way.
So how do we deal with it? First off–and this is the advice I need to tell myself–take a deep breath and don’t get bent out of shape. You’re getting ready to write and the cat pukes all over your shoes. So what? Clean it up and get to work. Getting pissed off about it will only sour your mood and make it more difficult to get back into the writing zone.
This is probably even more important. Every day, I set a goal of one or two most important “writing things” to do. Sometimes that’s a blog post or preparing a Theme of Absence story. Other times it’s a word count or a scene of a short story. It may vary, but what it is doesn’t matter. What matters is that when life gets in the way of the writing schedule, I know that no matter what I can still complete my minimum goal (or highest priority) for the day and go to bet still feeling accomplished.
2. You will have to overcome your emotional baggage and keep writing
Everybody has issues. Even if you don’t think you’ve got issues, you’ve got issues. I’ll be up front about mine. I’ve got low self esteem and when I’m feeling down, I feel like nothing goes my way. Now, I remedied that stuff with intense exercise a decade ago, but I’m at a point in my life where exercise is a memory, so those feelings come creeping back in.
Whatever your issue is, it will affect your writing in one way or another. I know for a fact that when I slip into “woe is me” mode, my writing suffers greatly.
So what can you do about it? Well, for starters, if you’re not sure what your issue is, search yourself and find it. When do you feel the most down? Why? Figure it out so you can defeat it. Seriously.
And then force yourself to get over it so you can be more productive.
But what if you can’t? Well, hey, that’s the beauty part about being a writer. Deal with your issues through your writing. Don’t necessarily go Mary Sue on it, but write some of those bad emotions into a character and see if that helps, both you as you deal with it, and your characters as it will add more depth to them.
3. Most people outside of other writers (and maybe artists and musicians) will not understand your passion.
This one can be difficult. I’m very fortunate to have a wife who does understand how important this writing stuff is and who is 100% behind me. I also started writing before any of our kids were born, so they’ve always known me as a writer. My three-year-old, in fact, thinks that my day job is writing.
But not everyone is a lucky as me. I see people on twitter all the time talking about how they have no support at home, or no writer friends in real life.
So what do you do? This may sound silly, but the most important thing is to be understanding.
Your friends aren’t going to understand what you mean when you tell them you “don’t have time.” I haven’t watched South Park since 2011. It’s one of my favorite shows. But I don’t have time to watch it. And when I tell that to people, they think I’m crazy. But it’s true. Same with Monday Night Raw. Time is limited, and writing is a higher priority than TV.
Anyhow, if you’re a writer, artist, or musician, you can relate. So when your friends and family think you’re crazy, just accept it. Don’t try to justify anything you do, or try explain it. And certainly don’t try to make yourself seem better than they are. Just accept that they don’t understand and change the topic.
And that’s about it. I hope this post didn’t come off as negative, even though it’s a bit of a negative topic. Just know that as writers, we can all suffer together, and you’re not alone in your struggles.
What other sobering facts about being a writer have I left out? Leave a comment and let us know!