The path to a “successful” writing career is tough. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or one of the very lucky few. (and I mean few). Reaching your goals as an author takes time and hard work. And many times, in the middle of working your way to those goals, you want to give up. You want to throw in the towel and try something else. But, it is the authors who make it through those rough moments and keep writing who are successful.
Today’s post is to highlight those rough moments in a writing career and encourage you through them. I press through the tough times and when I do, I catch glimpses of light. And I know if I keep writing and working, the light will grow.
1. Starting – The hardest part about writing for me happens every day when I try to sit down and get words on the page. I must fool around for 20 minutes every day avoiding the inevitable: writing. I have a hard time starting, but I force myself to do it every day or hour I set aside to write. The funny part is once I get rolling, once I have a paragraph or two down, the words flow and I’m in the zone. But, sitting down every day is a struggle.
The good thing is I have acknowledged this problem and have tools in place to help get me rolling. First, I put Scrivener in Full Screen mode on my mac. That way, I can’t see emails or notifications coming through on my computer. If I’m feeling super distracted, I will turn off the wi-fi on my computer. I also turn my iPhone over so the back is up. I can still hear it vibrate for texts and phone calls, but again don’t see notifications coming through. Finally, I set a timer for 20-30 minutes with a word count deadline because I know deadlines help my productivity.
My encouragement comes every session I am able to exceed my word count goal and fight past my starting problem. I know every word I write is a step closer to another book being on the market.
2. Waiting – An author spends lots of time waiting. If you submit query letters or manuscripts to agents, you wait for weeks (or months) for responses. When you work with an editor, you wait for the edits to return to you. Or you wait for your designer to finish you book cover. Finally, you wait for your book to be published- with traditional publishers it could be a year or more. Even with self-publishing, you are at the hands of Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, etc to put your book up for sale. It can be torture sitting around and waiting for the next step in the process.
My advice is to stop waiting and write something else. Every day you wait for your manuscript to be returned with edits is a day you could have worked on your next novel. Honestly, most of the time, I have too many projects I want to write and not enough time to write every day. Unless you are banking on your one book to be a bestseller (hint – not a good strategy), write while you wait.
3. Rejection – Somebody isn’t going to like your book. Agents will reject your query. A bad review will pop up in the Amazon review. All of these will happen so prepare yourself for it and make a plan to counter the rejection. For the person who doesn’t like you book, ask them why. Maybe you can learn something to help your next book better. For the rejected query, ask the agent what they are looking for or why your novel didn’t fit their criteria. Or if you love your project, hire an editor and publish it anyways. Rejection is going to happen so don’t let it discourage you. Instead, focus on what is working and the fans you have.
If you want to make writing a career, you need to survive those tough moments. Writing is a long-term strategy. You keep building up your catalog of books, improving your craft, and bringing in more fans of your work. Each book is another step in the direction of success- of making enough money from your writing to support yourself or your family. Keep reading, learning, and writing, even when you feel like you will never reach your goals. You can make it.