Despite my vow to blog three times a week, I’ve already skipped a couple of days. It’s almost the end of January, and I haven’t done much writing either. I have some pretty good excuses for falling behind (horrific dental work, broken laptop charger, kids, life, etc). There’s always something that gets in the way of writing. There always will be. Since this whole week has been a total loss, I planned to wallow in Advil and skip writing altogether. But, then…I got inspired! I read two really cool blog posts today that made me decide to cast aside my sorry excuses and start writing again. Thank you, John Lucas Hargis and Kristen Lamb for your wonderful (and timely) posts.
Let’s take a look at the Obstacles to Writing and how to overcome them:
Life: Kids, day jobs, Cub Scout meetings, parent-teacher conferences, etc. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. Sleep, showering, eating, and all the other things we have to do in order to pay our bills and keep ourselves (and those who depend on us) alive can chip away at those precious twenty-four hours until there is nothing left. We can’t stop eating and showing and caring for our children, so how do we carve out time for our writing? We have to make it a priority. We have to put writing time on our schedules.
Surprises: So, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out (you worked out a writing schedule, you’ve met your daily word count goal every day for the past month), your writing comes to an abrupt halt. Your kids get the flu, your mom has surgery, you have to have a root canal, and your car breaks down, shattering your focus and making a mockery of your carefully scheduled writing time. Not all surprises are good. Illness, dental work (ouch), car problems, sick parents or children–these are issues that crop up from time to time. If you have four kids, there’s ALWAYS something going on that demands immediate attention. Things happen. You don’t always know what is lurking around the corner waiting to pounce, but you can still plan ahead for those inevitable days (or weeks) when the writing train might be derailed. Allow for surprises.
Marketing and Promotion: Yeah! Your first book has been released and you’re anxious to finish the second, but you haven’t had time to write in weeks. You’re so busy promoting Book One (interviews, giveaways, responding to fans, requesting reviews) you can’t seem to get as much writing done as you did before. Before my first book was published, I wrote five books in a eighteen month period of time. In the last year, I wrote one. Why? Because edits, revisions, promotion, marketing, platform building–all the things that make writing a business–took up a great deal of time. In order to finally finish a book, I had to reduce the time I spent on marketing. It takes practice to learn to balance marketing and writing. If you want your first book to be the only book you ever publish, then market away. Devote every available moment to promoting your book. But, if you want to make writing a career, you have to find time to write. Remember: you have to write to be a Writer.
Distraction: Facebook, Twitter, The Voice, Grumpy Cat. There are so many, many, many things that can distract you. If you’re in Marketing and Promotion mode, you have to spend some time on Facebook and Twitter. It’s easy to just hang out there, talking to other authors, sharing Grumpy Cat pictures (guilty), or playing games. When the writing gets tough and the words don’t flow easily, I have a sudden ‘need’ to check my email or my messages on Facebook. Before I know it, I’ve allowed Facebook to hijack my whole day. When I have a writing goal I’m trying to reach, I force myself to write in spurts. For every twenty minutes I write, I allow myself ten minutes of Facebook/Twitter time. Childish, perhaps, but it works. Do what works for you. Defeat distraction and write!
Disappointment: Depression, frustration, and disappointment can erode your will to write. It isn’t easy being a Writer. Rejection letters, bad reviews, sluggish sales–we all face one (or all) of these at some point. It’s tough when you send your manuscript out on submission and receive a rejection form letter. It’s tough when someone leaves a bad review, or when your newly released book doesn’t take the world by storm. There are days you’ll wonder why you’re wasting your time. There are days when you’ll want to give up. If you wrote your book for the sole purpose of making a huge amount of money, you’re writing for the wrong reason.
I’ll be honest. When I first started writing, I harbored a fantasy about landing an agent and a gazillion dollar publishing contract, complete with a movie deal and action figures. This has not materialized (yet). I could have given up after the first book, or the second, or the sixth. I’ve written six full-length novels and I am not (yet) a gazillionaire. But, I love writing. That’s why I write. That’s what makes me a Writer. The gazillion dollars would be icing on the cake, but if it never materializes, I still have the satisfaction of knowing I am a Writer. No one can take that away from me.
How you handle your Writing Obstacles will determine the course of your Writing Career. You can complain that you never have time to do anything for yourself–or you can turn off the television and write. You can lament all the bad luck that’s come your way–or you can write. You can give up after the first rejection letter and sit around whining about why the publishing industry isn’t fair and how you have to know somebody to make it in this world. Or, you can push all those negative feelings aside and write because you love it. Your choice. Me? I’m writing.