Anyone who’s a writer will tell you it does have advantages but can be tough. For many, the challenges are nearly insurmountable. Whether an author of books, articles or a blog, the best of us embrace those challenges and allow them to shape us.
I’ve called on six writers of various kinds to share their experiences with eight writerlyproblems they’ve encountered. Although not a comprehensive list, we’ve all been through most of these issues — if you’re a writer, I’m betting you have too:
1 — Writer’s Block/Perfectionism
Winslow Eliot: My relationship with writing is more of a commitment than a mood swing. To only consider the moment your pen touches the sheet of paper and ink flows to be writing is nonsense. Like my marriage, there may be times when we’re having issues; that doesn’t negate the relationship — that is the relationship.
Sheilaa Hite: Balance is the key. Knowing when and how to let my work ’fly from the nest’ is as creative, challenging and satisfying as making it come to life. I use my senses and listen to my creation — it knows when it’s ready.
Bill Brenner: If I need to get something out there fast, it’s going to be less polished than I’d like. If I’m writing about something I’ve written about a lot it, moves faster. If I’m opining about news events, it takes more time and word wrestling.
Cheryl Snapp Conner: Being increasingly regarded as an authority on subjects that matter — then working to ensure I live up to that — it’s incredible. Humbling, too — there are always detractors at the door ready to interpret what you do through some bizarre personal filter and knock you flat — but that’s life, and it’s to be expected.
Elona Shelley: A perfect piece of writing? I’m constantly reminded that perfection is an illusion as I receive feedback. What’s near perfect for one person, someone else finds it’s not worth reading. Write what you feel to the best of your ability and let the chips fall.
Adrienne Monson: If you’ve revised it to the point of perfection, you’ve probably lost something in your narrative voice and in the characters. After I’ve revised a manuscript twice, I’ll send it to BETA readers, revise it two more times, then won’t look at it for a month. I’ll read through and revise once more before sending to my editor.
2 — Fear of Selling/Negotiating
Shelley: Being a first-timer, I didn’t realize that I’d have to sell my own book; I thought once it was printed the distributor would take it from there. But I’m passionate about the message and that kept fear at bay. Monson: It’s hard to sell your book sometimes, because part of getting people to buy it is making them like you. It gets easier. Help other authors promote their books; they’re usually more than happy to reciprocate.
3 — Too Much Competition
Eliot: I have three rules to deal with this: 1. Write what you love to read. Don’t try to write what will appeal to the masses. 2. Never compete, only excel. I look at my novels, readers and fans as individuals. 3. Write more than one book. My experience has been that one book sells the next.
4 — Getting Clients/Work
Hite: Let them know you can provide an invaluable service to them. In any successful business promotion is the key. Advertising, networking, social media interactions and good old word of mouth testimonials keep the revenue and promotion stream flowing.
Lowery: Start a blog; the more you write, the better you’ll get and the easier it is to pitch your work to better outlets. Write all kinds of articles. Read other similar articles for tone and style. If you can learn to write quickly and well, you can work your way up the writing ladder inside a year.
5 — Expressing Your Thoughts
Hite: I love words. They’re the building blocks of conscious expression and the connecting bridges between human beings. Language is very powerful and can be used to heal or destroy. Use words positively; they can be as comforting as a hug or as lethal as a sword.
Brenner: Don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Don’t worry about being a perfect writer. Just get it out onto a page and go from there. Conner: Communication is power, and writing is a way to make a difference — maybe for a few or perhaps profoundly for many — but it is a way to leave our legacy behind in the world. We’re doing it in all that we do, so why not do it deliberately with forethought and power?
Monson: It’s easy to get stuck in phrases or words and use them throughout your writing. In most cases, you won’t realize you’re doing. Try using a critique group — I love it. Use the Word search feature to replace that redundant word/phrase with other things or delete it altogether.
6 — Lack of Rest
Shelley: Find what works for you and stick to it. I like writing early in the morning, and when I get on a roll I usually wake up feeling energized by the ideas that are flowing. It’s a delicate balance because I need to write when I have that energy, otherwise my writing loses its passion.
7 — Lack of Productivity
Eliot: Commit a certain number of hours a day to writing. I sit and write at the same time, in the same place, every day, and nothing is allowed to interfere.
Brenner: I’ve found that if you lack passion for something, you’re going to find ways not to do it. Just be yourself. If you have passion for a subject and want to write, just do it.
8 — Lack of Ideas
Conner: I never suffer from this because there’s so much going on in the world. The greatest thing about writing for me is that, in an increasingly unsettled world, I take comfort in knowing that we writers are taking visible steps to leave a mark; a legacy for our children and grandchildren. We’ve “walked the talk,” willing to stand up publically for what we said we stood for and believed
See online: 19 Tips to Keep Your Writing Career in High Gear