Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” As much as we enjoy immersing ourselves in our work and sharing our stories and poetry with others (and really enjoy getting an acceptance!), we know writing comes with downsides too. With almost twenty-eight years in the publishing industry, Writer’s Relief has seen every writing problem from A to Z. But we’ve also seen writers persevere, grow, get published, and find literary agents. Here’s how to deal with the downsides of a writing life and focus on the upsides.
The Downsides Of A Writing Life—And The Remedies
It’s time-consuming. If you want to be a published writer, you should be writing and submitting your work often. That means setting aside time in your otherwise busy life to write, rewrite, proofread, format, research appropriate markets, make submissions—and then start all over again. To keep on schedule while maintaining a healthy balance in your life, it’s important to develop time management skills.
The best remedy for dealing with the writing life’s time crunch? Delegate the busywork. The experts at Writer’s Relief can help with proofreading, formatting, and researching to find the best places to submit your writing—and eliminating all the places you shouldn’t. With just a few clicks, you’ll make carefully targeted submissions and boost your odds of getting an acceptance. And even better—you’ll have more time to write!
Oh no! Another rejection! Fear of rejection stops some writers from making any submissions. And if you do make submissions, you will get rejections. Getting a rejection letter is disappointing, disheartening, and can make you doubt your abilities and want to give up—especially when it happens again and again.
Competition in the publishing industry is fierce. Many literary agents and journals receive thousands (even tens of thousands) of submissions. But successful writers know rejection is a part of the writing life, and each rejection brings you a step closer to your next acceptance. The industry standard is one acceptance for every 100 submissions sent if strong writing is paired with well-targeted submissions. The odds are much bleaker when the writing isn’t good or the submissions aren’t properly targeted—then the work will never be published.
Remember, a single rejection doesn’t mean that every journal or agent will reject your work! Many times, the difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is that the first author didn’t give up. Read more here about how to get over rejection letters.
You can easily be overwhelmed by self-doubt. Repeated rejections and other people’s opinions of your work can lead you to doubt your skill as a writer. And sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy, overthinking every edit. We can all be hypercritical of our own writing.
When you’re so close to your writing that you can’t see the merits of your work, a writing group can help you see the big picture. In a good writing group, you’ll find a supportive environment where writers can explore their craft, learn about their industry, and vent their frustrations about the writing life. Making friends with other writers can also improve many aspects of your career and your life.
There’s always a deadline. Deadlines can be self-imposed, such as “I will send out twenty-five submissions to agents this month,” or “I will complete my short story over the weekend.” Literary journals have reading dates you must abide by if you want to submit work for an upcoming issue, and writing contests have deadlines for entries. Some writers feel anxious about having to complete projects by certain deadlines, rather than writing when the muse strikes.
But at Writer’s Relief, our clients find that deadlines actually help them prioritize their writing. Having a deadline can also motivate you to finish projects and increase your productivity. Rather than having to wait for your muse to show up, sticking to a schedule gives your creativity a kick in the pants and breaks through writer’s block.
It can be stressful. It’s important to acknowledge the stress in our lives, whether it comes from a poem you can’t find the right words for or an ever-growing pile of laundry that needs to be folded. Trying to get your writing project completed can be frustrating when you can’t come up with the best ending to your story, or you realize your “great idea” actually doesn’t pan out—or the words are flowing, but you have to stop because you’re late picking up the kids from soccer practice.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time for a break. Take a walk around the block or sprint up and down some stairs for a quick pick-me-up. Exercise of any kind wards off tension. Aromatherapy can also be a good way to relieve stress, so light a lavender-scented candle (or your favorite scent) while you’re writing. If you want to stay focused and creative, it’s important to take care of yourself.
There Are Upsides To A Writing Life!
The writing life can be hard, but it can also be fun. Hold on to the spark that made you pick up a pen or start typing on a keyboard. Being creative is an extremely enjoyable, fulfilling experience. Achieving your writing goals—whether it’s finishing your poem or getting an acceptance for your short story—is worth the challenges of rewrites and research.
You can also make some great friends! Being part of a writing community offers opportunities for companionship and networking. Other writers will understand what you’re going through and can give you advice to help improve your writing and get your work published.
While there are downsides of a writing life, there are upsides too. When it seems like there are more down days than up, take a great big spoonful of the tips above to get back on track and change your outlook. You may be doing your “I got an acceptance!” happy dance before you know it!
Question: What writing downsides have you experienced and how have you overcome them?