I’ve been in touch with – and made aware of – a lot of writing frustration over the past 4-6 weeks. I’d like to offer some suggestions that may empower you to write anyway.
The most common comments include, “I don’t have any time to write”; “This story just isn’t coming together”; “My publisher is not happy with this latest story”; “Sales really stink” – I can list many more, but in the interest of time for us both, I won’t.
I send us all a hug on this stuff. And hugs sent my way are appreciated. We’re all in the same boat even if not at the same time. And, I think that the bottom line sometimes just needs to be, “So what? This too shall pass.” We’re human. We have things to learn. We get sidetracked. So what?
A healthy quality of life includes the ability to live with joy on a daily basis regardless of the circumstances. It’s the result of a healthy spirit. Of being present to the moment we are currently in. We cannot have healthy spirits without balance. We won’t have balance if everything, every day, is about us or our writing. (We also won’t have friends.) And, it’s easy to get down that rabbit hole without a clear way back – I’ve been there myself a time or ten in the 20+ years I’ve been writing professionally.
We have to make our writing a priority, but it isn’t who we are and it won’t work well to be an obsession. I suggest that it must rank higher than twenty hours of television per week or hours upon hours of video games. I recommend giving up social media except for carefully selected, and disciplined viewing. Set up times per week, or per day if you must, to do your viewing. Then get out and get back to work. This includes research.
We don’t always get what we want and we often don’t get it when we want it. Sorry, these are just facts of life. They apply to me and Bill Gates equally. But, do we have all we need to be at peace, to be safe, to be healthy at this moment?
GRATITUDE: Thankful people are happy. Happy writers write more words per year. Balance comes along with being diligent about being grateful. Be constantly thankful for all that you have: safe, clean water, electricity, clean air to breath, funds to pay the bills, food, health, a roof over your head, friends who love you, etc. Be thankful for what you don’t have: a catastrophic illness, the death of a child, the loss of a limb or sense like hearing or sight.
MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS: Let others run their own lives. Running anyone’s life but our own will eat up so much time and energy that there isn’t anything left for our writing – and it will not be successful or productive. Limit your exposure to Facebook, YouTube, and political news if you want your spirit to stay healthy.
HELP OTHERS: Participate in the world around you where you can. What passion lights up your heart? This is a world of many needs. Mentoring a student might be one, or helping the local library be what makes you smile. Maybe you help out at or through your faith community. Hats off! Don’t give it up – we grow by helping others.
ENJOY OTHERS: Don’t ignore your friends and family, but also let them know that you have a writing schedule and we appreciate them helping us stay on it. When they ask what you’re writing, reply, “The Great American Novel” – regardless of what you are really writing. BUT, don’t share your manuscript or ideas with friends and family until you’ve written at least your first draft. The influx of THEIR ideas will create a frustration level that will be hard to get past as you try to please everyone. I can guarantee you won’t be pleased with the result and you may even just quit altogether.
GROW YOUR KNOWLEDGE: Join a professional writer’s organization that can help support your growth in terms of skills, knowledge, and friendships. If your hobby is knitting, then you’ll probably have a blast joining a group that meets a few hours a month to knit projects that help others. Makes sense that you should be spending time with writers – others who understand what it’s like to have characters make you crazy with their insistent plot changes, or an experienced group that can help you learn to market that passionate non-fiction book that is almost finished.
BE KINDER TO YOURSELF: Be sure to schedule time and activities that take care of you. If it’s a spiritual retreat once or twice a year, be sure to do it. Love movies? Get yourself there, with or without your favorite movie-going buddy. Take a walk on the beach or in the woods regularly. Get out there in the fresh air for a round of golf every week with your pals. And I recommend that you write a max of 6 days a week – even God took off one day, remember? And He too was in the business of creating things. We are no good for anything or anyone if we are too tired, too hungry, too lonely, or too angry.
Keep reading and writing – I’m sending you hugs! See you next week.