Some days the font is all wrong. Some days your wrists hurt. Or your back hurts. Or both. Some days your dog won’t stop barking, and there are three loads of laundry to fold. Some days you can’t fall asleep because you’ve got a million ideas for your story. Some days you can’t remember a single one.
Some days the words just flow. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them in a rush. Some days you feel so high. Some days you laugh at your own funny parts, and cry at the sad ones. Some days you know that this book is The One.
Then some days you read about that 7-figure, 3-book deal and you just want to scream. Some days you think it’s never going to be you. Some days you wonder why you even bother.
And some days you read a great book, and you think, This is why. I can do this. I will do this. I am doing this.
The hardest part of being a writer (IMHO) is not coming up with ideas, or hitting your word count, or breathing life into your characters. It’s trusting yourself. Believing in yourself. Being yourself, and being okay with that.
One of the benefits of the online writing community is that we know we’re not alone. There are people out there who get us, who understand what we’re going through, because they’re going through it too. The value of that is immeasurable.
But one of the pitfalls of the online writing community is that we can compare ourselves to others. Are we writing slower, is our deal smaller, are our reviews less favorable?
That kind of thinking doesn’t help anyone. But it’s hard to resist. I’ve spent years trying to re-program my mind, and what I’ve learned is that it’s a constant struggle. Every day I have to remind myself to be disciplined yet gentle. To push but also to accept myself. There are enough obstacles already; I don’t need to be one too.
When I started writing this post, I titled it, “The hardest part of being an aspiring author.” But near the end, I realized: This stuff doesn’t get easier as you go. (At least not from what I’ve heard.) All writers, published or not, have good days and bad days. All writers have doubts and insecurities.
So what I’m encouraging us all to do is to give ourselves permission. Permission to be slow. Or fast. Or commercial. Or literary. To be bad, or good, or anywhere in between. To make mistakes (which help us grow). To experiment (which helps us grow). To trust our instincts, even if they tell us to do the opposite of what Bestselling Author X is doing. Maybe especially because they tell us to do the opposite.
There’s no wrong way to write a book. There’s only what works for you, and what doesn’t. And the less time you spend worrying about what you’re doing, the more time you can spend actually doing it.
From The Intern’s “A frightful confession”:
You write what you write. You are what you are. And, no matter how anxious you may be to have everybody like you, you’re not going to get there by scrambling to become what you think the world wants. You will never be young enough/old enough/smart enough/dumb enough to please everybody, so you should really just do what you love and let the world take care of itself.
(Photo courtesy of Mike Johnson – TheBusyBrain.com)