This writing ride has been one of extreme emotions for me. Each time I feel my emotions taking over I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that this is a process. I have to separate myself from the waiting and wondering part, which is a huge part of this whole being a career writer gig. I’ve learned that one of the ways I work best is to compartmentalize different aspects of the process. And, there are a ton more aspects to being a writer than most people know.
Yes, of course there is the writing part of it. I think this is what most people think about when they hear I’m a writer. “Oh fun! She gets to write stories all the time. I’d love to do that.” Obviously, in order to be a writer, you need to write. A lot. You need to write a lot and every day. Just like any other job, you should probably write whether you want to or not. If you are going to make writing into a career, then you have to treat it like any other career you could do with all of the same time commitments and efforts. I’m not gonna lie. It’s hard, but everything you do is hard if it’s worth it, right? I would tell you this is one of the hardest parts of the job for me. While I have the ideas and the craft, I also have 3 little boys who call my name constantly, a husband who doesn’t like to be ignored for some reason, and a day job in the form of an elementary school music teacher. Finding the time to get my word count in every day tends to be the hardest thing. So yes, actually, writing is one very wonderful and hard part of it all.
But, there are other parts. There’s editing and revising to do. Cleaning up, changing, and sometimes trashing whole parts of manuscripts. For me, this is a part that comes easier. It’s a time when I feel like I get to mold and play with the words to get it exactly right. It’s like choosing a paint color for a room. When you know you are going to paint your dining room, you usually can narrow it down to one color pretty quickly (at least I can). So, let’s say I decide on green. This is like writing the first draft for me. An overall picture, if you will. Now, though, I have to really decide which shade of green am I going to go with in order for it to be perfect? Editing and revising, rewrites, all of it is me painting the different shades of green on the wall and watching it at different times of the day to know which one will fit the space (manuscript) best. It’s the details, and details make me happy. I swear, if someone would let me research random details for them, I would be very happy girl.
Which is a whole other part of being a writer-the research. Depending on what you are writing, this can take a very long time. Right now, I am working on two works-in-progress (WIPs). One of them is a children’s picture book, and another is a Young Adult fantasy meets historical fiction. You wouldn’t think there would be a lot of research to do for a picture book, except there is. You need to really know what you are writing about-and that includes settings, characters, emotions. It’s why writers are usually readers as well. For me, researching can take just as long, if not longer, than writing a first draft can. I am usually writing and researching at the same time too.
So, we’ve covered writing, editing, researching…and we’re still not done! Once all of that is finished, there is the trying to find an agent, the trying to find a publisher, the writing queries, the networking, the blogging, and the taking workshops to continue to grow and learn. ALL of this is usually being done, most certainly in the beginning of a writing career, by someone who probably has another job to help pay the bills. You can dabble in writing. I did it for years. Really, I did it until this year. And I didn’t get anywhere because dabbling is not what people take seriously. I’ve learned they take you and your writing seriously when you take yourself and your writing seriously.
And lastly, we are back to the emotions that become involved with writing. Right now, I am waiting to hear back from an agent (please….) and a publisher (double please…) for a children’s picture book I have written. While my emotions are raw from waiting and wondering, I have learned that this, too, is a part of the job. It is probably the hardest part of the job. Putting your emotions aside (and your ego, pride, etc…) is difficult. It is hard to want to pick up the next WIP and get working on it while you are waiting to hear on another one. But, that is part of the job… And there are other emotions that come into play too. Joy is a big one. There is nothing like knowing you are doing exactly what you were created to do, even if it is hard. Because, again, what isn’t hard if it’s worth doing?? For me, writing is totally worth it.
I’m interested to know what is the hardest part of your job, be it writing or something else? How do you push through it?