By Edie Melson
I’m a member of several writing groups, and I’m always amazed at the different reactions people have to similar situations. For instance, one writer might leave a critique session in tears, questioning whether or not the call to write was real. Another writer might have just as challenging a critique and leave energized because she now has the insight she needs to improve.
I’ve begun paying attention to the way the writers I respect handle this writing life. I’ve noticed that even though life gets hard at times, they never lose their writing joy. I’m trying to take deliberate steps to guard my joy of writing and not let things and/or people steal it from me. Today I’d like to share what I’ve discovered with you.
Things That Steal Our Writing Joy
1. Being a One Way Writer. By this I mean that we’re only happy when things turn out one way. We want things a certain way and in a certain time-frame. Truthfully, it’s the writers who are flexible that retain their joy in this business.
2. Being Unwilling to Let Go of Expectations. This one word can derail us for months, or even years, if we let it. It’s fine to make plans, but we can’t hang our hope – or our joy – on expectations.
3. Not Learning to Roll with the Punches. Hard times will come in this business. Landing a book deal and/or an agent is tough, and rarely happens quickly. When we have those two things, life can still blindside us. Contracts are cancelled, editors and agents move on without us. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and get back to writing, no matter what happens.
4. Always Looking Backward. If we dwell on the way things used to be in publishing, we’ll always be miserable. Not because things were always better, but because we think we remember them being better. Whether they were or weren’t really isn’t the point. What we need to do is learn what we can from the past and then keep our eyes firmly forward.
5. Chasing Trends. It’s tempting to tailor what we’re writing to what’s currently popular with publishers. But that’s a dead end road. There’s always something new, and it’s just not possible to pull out a crystal ball and write to what’s going to be hot when it hit the market. A wise writer gave me some advice I’ve never regretted following. “Write your passion. Don’t settle. Write what you love.” KristenHeitzmann
6. Listening to the Negative Voices. There are two types of negative voices – the ones that live in your head and the ones belonging to those around us. I believe it’s the ones inside us that are the most dangerous. For one thing, they’re much more brazen. They say things that we’d never speak out loud. But if we let others also talk us out of following our dreams, they can be dangerous too. Take constructive criticism, but don’t let the negative words bring you down.
7. Giving in to Fear. No matter how much we achieve as writers, we’re still fearful. We’re afraid of failure, of ridicule, even of success. But those writers who keep their joy are the ones who continue on in spite of the fear. They even get stronger because of the fear they overcome.
8. Perfectionism. We want to strive for our very best. But we need to understand that perfection is out of our grasp. Perfectionism can keep us from submitting our work for publication, and it can even keep us from writing. Aim high and always keep learning, but be willing accept the best you can do.
9. Not Writing. I truly believe that if our purpose in life is writing, and we don’t make time to write, we’ll be miserable. I know so many people who want to write, know they’re called to write, and yet let everything else squeeze out the time to write. They are some of the most stressed out folks you’ll ever see.
10. Forgetting the Reason You Started Writing in the First Place. We can get so caught up in the chase, that we forget why we entered the race. For me, God made me a writer. I process life through words. When I hit hard times and good times, one of my first actions is to record it, process it, and cope with it through writing. When I return to that, no matter what else is going on, everything falls into place.
These are the things I’ve found that steal our writing joy. What would you add?
Edie Melson – author, blogger, speaker – has written numerous books, including While My Soldier Serves, Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts.com. Her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month, and she’s the Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers is a print expansion of her bestselling ebook on social media. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.