So, if you could change one thing about your writing life, what would it be? I mean, if YOU could change it. That kind of knocks out the answer, “I’d sell my book to (insert publisher’s name here) for (insert a huge amount of money here).”
What I’m wondering is, what is it that’s holding you back, what is it that’s keeping you from being a success as a writer? Now, we all know there are different definitions of success. Today, I’m going to talk about a sliver of what I think is success. To answer this question, you’ll have to change up the definition to match you. Make sense?
Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am The Whiner between Ann Dee and me. (Tomorrow, Ann Dee can tell you what she is. And Kyra–she may be following in my shoes!) There are several things that I let get in the way of my writing and my business of being a writer. A few months ago I got a strong feeling that I was going to have to figure out a way to support the girls and me. It was an uncomfortable feeling–a warning really. I had thought our finances might be a little different by this time in my career. But we cannot control other people–which is why I asked you what YOU could change about yourself as a writer. The deal is, I’ve had this feeling more than once–that I am responsible. And that means I need to take action.
My profession? I’m a writer. It’s what I’ve always wanted to be. I’m proud of the work I do and I’m pleased that I have the opportunity to publish. There’s nothing like typing “THE END,” nothing like positive words from an editor who loves your books, nothing like holding that first hardcover copy in your hands. There are so many sighs of satisfaction related to writing.
But there are some drawbacks. We are our own boss–even when working under a deadline. We spend a lot of time alone. We can’t control the outcome even when we have a terrific product.
So I’m asking this question of myself–the what-is-holding-you-(meaning-me)-back question. And I see some problems. Like, every time I sit down to write, I seem to freeze. Is it because in the olden days I could get away with writing a chapter a day? My book money helped support us, yes. But we never depended on it. Did I get used to writing an hour a day, and that’s it, and so now when I write about a thousand words, I have something in my brain that clicks and I just stop?
I think of Dean Hughes who wrote at least eight hours every day. Dean (who’s on an LDS mission with his wife right now) worked as a writer. He went into his office and wrote. He put down hours of notes. He connected the writing dots and he is a successful writer of all kinds of fiction and non-fiction, too. Like close to a hundred novels–some of them as thick as five of my own novels put together.
And what about Stephen King? King writes every day. He writes to a specific number of words and he sits at his desk till he’s done. At least, that’s what his excellent craft book ON WRITING says. King treats himself like a writer and expects himself to write.
I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
We can’t leave out Ann Dee Ellis (you all know her, right?). For three weeks straight she plans to write 2,000 words every day. I’m betting she has hit pretty close to her mark at the close of each evening. She’s a mother to two young boys, she teaches classes at the college level, she’s a wife, she helps care for her mom, she works with me on this blog, she’s a great friend–the list goes on and on.
What else might it be that stays my hand? Is it the fear of the blank page? The truth is, writers look at that blank page in different ways. Some see it as a challenge. Others see it as a threat. I LOVE a new book–a fresh start–a discovery of characters and where these characters might go. However, right now, the blank pages I have to fill feel more like an enemy. “Just get to 200,” I think. “You’re fifteen pages away.” Does this number scare me because I know I really have more than 200 pages to finish the book?
The truth is, I could go on and on why I’m not doing what I should do. The fact is, excuses or not, I’m NOT working like a real writer (who needs to support her family) would. I’m letting my emotions control me. And instead of pushing past those fears, well, I’m giving up.
Last week, Ann Dee issued a challenge to herself and encouraged anyone to join her. Today I am trying to figure out, a bit, where I am as a writer. I think I’m beginning to uncover, a little, what I am up against–the Me that is holding Me back. Today, I can’t tell you exactly what I will do to change these problems, but this exploration should, hopefully, leave me where I want to be–really writing as a full-time writer like Dean Hughes, Stephen King and Ann Dee Ellis.
So I ask again, what is it that’s holding you back from becoming the writer you want to be?