Friday, April 4, 2014

Author Survival

I love being a writer, but there are times when I have to find ways to deal with issues that people with "normal" jobs don't have to face. I thought I'd share some of them here.

Here are some of my challenges and how I (try to) overcome them: 
  • Finding a quiet space to write. I'm someone who needs complete quiet to write, so I have to constantly look for places and opportunities. Most of the time for me it's early in the morning before my husband wakes up.
  • Getting out into the real world. As a novelist, I've discovered that it's way too easy to immerse myself in my fictional world and never come out. I make it a point every single day to go somewhere or talk to someone who does something completely different.
  • Maintaining confidence. As my career progresses, I've discovered that my confidence comes and goes based on many factors I can't control. Editors may have me changing some of my favorite scenes or reviewers may not connect with the story, leaving me wondering if I'm a fraud. I continue to study the craft of writing and work on being the best writer I can be.
  • Dressing for success. Ask any writer who works from home, and I'd be willing to bet that he or she has spent many days working in pajamas or workout clothes that have never been connected with a single exercise session. Although comfort is important, I make myself shower, brush my hair, and put on something I don't mind being seen in if someone comes to the door.
  • Feeling isolated. Writing can be a lonely profession. I think it's important to have friends – both writing pals and non-writing buddies – to prevent feeling as though there is no one else in the world besides the characters in our stories.
  • Balancing the budget. People who are traditionally published know that we get advances when we sign contracts and royalties twice a year (or quarterly, depending on the publisher). This requires budgeting if we want to continue paying our mortgage, keep the lights on, and have enough ramen noodles to last until the next advance.
  • Understanding that perfection doesn't exist. This was a hard one for me. When I first started writing, I wanted every sentence to be perfect. Then an editor gave me some advice that I'll never forget. She said to let go of what I'd learned in middle school English class and allow my characters to breathe.  
What are some of your challenges as a writer or whatever else you do for a living?


Martha W. Rogers said...

Good advice and choices, Debbie. I need to adopt some myself.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I felt like you were describing my life.

Kathy Harris said...

This was great, Debby!

Debby Mayne said...

Thanks! I think most writers will relate to at least one of these.