Writing is hard. The process of putting words on paper is far from easy. But it’s even worse when you try to put those words out into the world. Writers spend months to years working on one creation, writing and editing it until it’s something that’s vaguely book-shaped. Then they send it to agents, who send it to editors, who get it to readers and critics. And at every stage, there’s heartbreak, there’s failure, there’s feeling like you’ve hit a wall. And you feel like you’re alone, that you’re suffering in a small corner by yourself.
I’ve painted a great picture of writing, haven’t I? Why would anyone want to become a writer? The fame? The fortune? That doesn’t really exist for most writers. We write because we want our stories to be heard, we want to inspire the next generation, to make a difference in someone’s life, even it it’s just one person. We write because there’s a story inside of us waiting to get out.
I chose to write this blog post because I know how difficult writing can be. I’ve been stuck in the query trenches for years. There were times where I almost clawed my way out, found that champion of my writing, but it wasn’t meant to be each time. I felt like I fell further and further behind as friends of mine surged ahead.
Recently, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Write or Die with Claribel Ortega and Kat Cho. (A podcast that I cannot recommend enough for any writer). Claribel and Kat started the podcast talking about the struggles of becoming published, the road bumps they hit along the way. And it made me feel seen. Like I wasn’t the only one who was in this position. So I’ve compiled all of my suggestions and tips in how to keep sane during this road of publishing.
The first step to being a writer or becoming published is the physical act of writing. This can feel really daunting, especially when you hear an author finished their first draft in three weeks and you can’t seem to complete a chapter in the same time. If you hit a wall while writing, my biggest suggestion is to take a break. Refill your creative well. If you can’t seem to write that next scene, don’t feel like you have to force yourself to put words on paper that day. Instead try this:
- Read a book on your TBR list.
- Watch a movie or show you haven’t seen yet.
- Listen to a podcast featuring your favorite writers (my favorites are 88 Cups of Tea and Write or Die).
- Read a Writing Blog (Like this one!)
- Indulge in some Creative Procrastination.
- Take yourself to your favorite place, the one that inspires you.
Doing all of this should help give you inspiration and new ideas. Don’t feel like not writing means you’re not working. Part of writing is coming up with ideas.
When querying or out on submission to editors, you have handed the reins over to someone else. You can no longer control what happens with your manuscript. It’s not like writing when you choose to either work or take a break. Instead, you’re sending out your work to others and hope they see promise in it, that they want to represent you or publish your work. So it’s heartbreaking with the rejections come in. While you’re querying, it’s really hard to not check your email every five seconds. So, instead, turn off your notifications and take time for yourself during this time. Go to a nice dinner when you get a rejection or have comfort chocolate.
But my biggest suggestion is to work on a new project. Don’t hang all of your hopes on one work. Right now I’m in the process of querying a project that I spent a year and a half writing and rewriting. But it’s going poorly. The best thing I’m doing for myself right now is focusing instead on my new project and getting it ready to query next. That way when a rejection comes in, I’m not as devastated because I have faith in my new project.
Remember, you are not alone. Writers in every stage of the process are hitting walls, getting rejections, feeling like failures. So, my biggest self care tip is to find a group of writers. Your family and friends, though they want to support you, don’t understand everything you’re going through. Other writers do. Good critique partners will be there for you when you hit the lowest of lows and celebrate the highest of highs.
What is your way of dealing with the up and down road of writing?