Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Marathon, not a Sprint

I sometimes wonder if writing is the easiest business in which to get discouraged. My husband seldom comes home from work with his head hanging low and says something like, "I didn't have a very good day on my press."

Growing up, my dad never came in and said, "I couldn't get inspired to operate the backhoe today. I don't know if I'm cut out for this line of work."

If my husband scraps a few jobs on his press or Dad didn't reach his mile quota on a highway job, both hit hard the next day. They never considered another line of work. They have families to feed and bills to pay and things need to be done regardless of bad days or low production or lack of motivation.

Why are writers one of the few groups of workers in the world who have the option to work or not work based on the above?

There are many things about the writing life that are discouraging. Sometimes, regardless of how good you are, publishers ignore you to buy works from better known, less talented writers. Sometimes, regardless of research, solid idea and multi-faceted characters you've created, the words won't come. Sometimes, even your biggest supporters wonder if you'd be better off to chuck it all and get into something that actually earns a paycheck.

Writing isn't easy. Getting published is harder by about a thousand times. If it was, everybody would do it. And then what would your contract be worth? While you're waiting for that blessed moment, take time to learn and practice the craft, polish your skills, open yourself and your writing to critiques. We must do these steps throughout our careers. Doctors never stop attending conferences and studying and learning the latest techniques and break-throughs. Why do writers?

Don't forget the importance of attending conferences, pitching your book idea, and finding editors and agents who are interested. They may not buy your book this go round, but you'll grow and get closer to your goal. There are no short cuts.

Face it folks, just like maintaining a healthy weight, writing is a marathon not a sprint. In the meantime, enjoy the process. Write what you love. Give your characters a voice. Share it where and when you can. Don't overlook the smaller markets. Study magazine guidelines. They can provide a nice supplemental income while you're awaiting that lucrative book contract.


  1. I think this is a common problem in the creative fields. Although I am a bit against considered myself to be an artist (even though I paint and it's part of my bachelor's degree) I believe that artists and writer's deal with similar problems in this situation. The self doubt when the product is one solely from us, that take energy and then are guaranteed criticism and rejection with only some receiving acceptance.

  2. Sometimes I think life would be so much easier if I had a job I could leave at the office at the end of the day. Alas, this is our lot in life. But I'm sure you wouldn't want it any other way either. Thanks for posting.