Answering the hard questions about life as a writer

This past weekend, I was one of five writers who shared about our writing process at our regional writing group’s meeting. It was an honor to be asked because the president chose the most prolific members of the group, and it was cool to be counted among the ones chosen. 

During the panel discussion, we were asked some really great questions, such as: 

  • Why do we write (because I love words, the shape of them, the sound of them, the meanings, the art of storytelling, all of it. And also because I write so much better than I speak)
  • What do we do to prepare for writing a novel (a lot of plotting, character sketches, scene building, and so on)
  • How many editing drafts does our manuscript go through (a lot, including my edits, my first reader/husband’s feedback, my beta readers’ feedback, more self-editing, then professional editing)
  • What kind of tools do we use to enhance our writing (Scrivener and Word, and a pass through Grammarly. Also, Google is amazing for research. You’ll find a lot of interesting things in an author’s search history)
  • What’s the most important part of planning a novel (getting it down before the idea disappears)

And so on. 

But like anything, there’s never enough time for every question or every answer. I could think of many questions I’d wished I’d expanded on. But more than that, I could think of a few questions that weren’t asked, probably because they’re the questions people are afraid to ask. 

So I’ll ask and answer those questions here. 

1. Do you ever feel like giving up?

Almost every day. Some days I feel hopeful and excited for the future when my books take off and I can write stories full time. But most days I take a look at the steep climb my book success needs to take before I get there, and the reality that I’ll probably be writing books in my spare time while working a full time job FOREVER. And then I feel like giving up because, what’s the point?

Thing is, that’s when I realize I’m focusing on the wrong thing. Remember that question up there, “Why do you write?” That’s what I have to remember every single time I want to throw in the towel. It’s not about getting famous or making money. Those would be great side benefits, but that’s not why I’m doing this. I write because I love it, because it fills my soul, then allows me to see my soul on the page, and then share my soul with readers. I write because I must, and there’s no giving up on that.

2. Do you write every day?

No. And yes. I do not write or edit my novel every day. There have been weeks I’ve kept the manuscript closed. There was a time when I was so much more disciplined with my novel writing, and I would love to get back there. But right now, this feels like an easy pace, plus I’m still making progress, so everything is good.

But even if I’m not writing my novel, I’m doing other writing. I journal EVERY DAY. It’s how I start my day. I also have a running document on my work computer to jot down things in my head – story ideas, blog ideas, life ideas, points of contention, hopes and dreams, and so on. If all else fails, I use the notes section on my phone.

So no, I don’t write my novel every day. But yes, I do write something every day.

3. Do you regret anything you’ve ever written?

Of course. Like every writer, I’ve learned more about writing with every book I’ve written. So when I look back at some of my earlier books, I see a million things I’d love to change about them. I’ve even entertained the idea of going back through them and rewriting the whole thing. It’s not out of the question, either. But for now, I let them be and continue moving forward, trusting (hoping) there are more treasures than errors and that readers will still discover the magic in the stories.

4. What is your biggest struggle as a writer?

Jealousy. There. I’ve said it. And I know I’m not alone in this. The thing about being a novelist is there are A LOT of us out there. And success is fickle. It will strike one author and make them an “overnight success,” but leave a seasoned writer in the dust. Luck and perfect timing play a big part in success as an author, and it’s frustrating to see others who have both, especially when you feel like you’re pulling out all the stops.

On that, the other struggle is knowing the right formula for gaining luck and perfect timing. Is it catching the eye of the right person on Twitter? Is it having the right number of people on my newsletter list? Is it being funny on social media, or empathetic, or altruistic, or all three and more? Is it writing a whole series of books and then releasing them 30 days apart?

There’s so much to think about, and it can be overwhelming.

And when it all comes down to it, there’s only ONE thing that will truly draw readers to your books, and that’s WRITING A GOOD BOOK. Being jealous of other authors or influencers is a waste of time and energy. Most people who have gained success weren’t actually made overnight, but worked their asses off to get there, and are paying attention to trends to stay on top of the game. If I want that, I also need to work my ass off, keep my focus on the right things, and WRITE A GOOD BOOK. And when I’m done with that, write another. And then another. Rinse and repeat.

___

What are some of the hard questions you have for yourself (whether you’re a writer, reader, etc). And what’s your answer? Let me know in the comments. 

xoxo 

2 thoughts on “Answering the hard questions about life as a writer

  1. Hi! I have been a writer practically my whole entire life. Published? Not until recently when I started my blog, which is mostly about life experiences. I have tons of poems written, and I am still debating publishing them on my blog. Will anyone actually appreciate them? Read them even? I agree, it is very overwhelming. I am also an introvert, so social media is DAUNTING for me (although I am trying). I have always been awkward, and I don’t see that changing in this lifetime. That is what makes me sometimes want to give up.

    I love reading, but seldomly have the time. I might make the time though, and check out your books on Amazon. Loving The Wind: Tiger Lily & Peter Pan sounds like a story I would really enjoy!

    1. It took me years to finally gather the courage to publish! It’s so hard to share you work! It became easier when I started sharing on a smaller level. And then I just took the plunge and started publishing my work. I love that you have a blog because that’s a great place to start sharing your writing and getting feedback. Have you heard of Writers Cafe? That’s where I started publishing some of my poetry before I started publishing novels. That’s also a great place to receive feedback: https://www.writerscafe.org.

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