7 Reasons for Writers to be Made of Sterner Stuff

Don’t beat yourself up; enough people will do it for you. This saying is a mantra of sorts, I guess, as I really believe in the positive approach to life. When I was teaching I often used this for students who told me of insurmountable problems they had.  I wanted to give them the confidence to go on.

And so, with these words in  mind, I give you

7 Reasons for Writers to be Made of Sterner Stuff.

1. Sometimes the whole world seems to line up waiting to tell you what’s wrong with your writing. The obvious culprits are fellow writers in critique groups, but family and even friends can blurt out the hurt. Even something as innocent as “Is your book published yet”, emphasis on the ‘yet’, can freeze my smile to a grimace.

2. The journey to publication is long.  Did I say long?  Sharon Clare, one of my writing friends, says it takes about ten years to make a writer. Others have shorter cocooning spans, but I believe it depends on what you knew when you started and what kind of luck you happen to have, as well as a goodly dose of perseverance. Publication will come, believe it.

3. One day you write three phenomenal pages. You tell your husband, your best friend, your sister, your Twitter tweeps about your brilliance. The next day you reread and delete said pages. This is tough but often necessary.

4. People who have been in this business a long time might, with all the best intentions, give you advice.  You take it and find out months or even years later they were wrong. You may even have taken courses which turn out to be of limited value.  The trouble is, you must keep writing and learning and searching to acquire enough knowledge yourself to know they were wrong. Meanwhile, all that time is gone.

5. A corollary to number 4 is people might give you advice, which you don’t take, and then you find out later they were oh, so right. Harrumph.  I hate that one!

6. The actual journey work of writing historical fiction is hard. I have to research, organize notes, plot my story around correct history, and then write and write and write.  Then the real work begins.

7. Writers must develop enough skill to write well, enough self-confidence to follow their best path, and enough perseverance to see their works published.

Funny how we put ourselves through all of these things.  The need to publish should be moved to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I think.  At least for writers.

Today’s post is praise for all those writers who keep going and reach their goals.  Consider leaving a comment and telling why you write or why you appreciate writers who succeed.

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20 thoughts on “7 Reasons for Writers to be Made of Sterner Stuff

  1. So true, Elaine. We do NEED to publish. We need to feel validated for all the time we’ve taken to perfect this craft.

    I can so relate to throwing away what I thought were writing gems, but looked at a year later, turned out to be nothing but coloured glass. The up side is we are always improving. We will be better writers next year at this time.

    Thanks for your constant encouragement!

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    • You make me think of what it would feel like to throw away my diamond rings. Like that would ever happen! But the point is well taken. And I’m sure diamonds given by a long lost ex-husband would be just bits of glass. And I loved that analogy, Sharon. Thanks for commenting, my friend.

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    • I can really relate to your note about the quality of advice given or received. I’m just in the middle of the biggest critique and be critiqued session of my writing career. Every time I think of saying something about a writer’s work, I take a deep breath and rethink before I commit thoughts to keyboard. Talk about putting yourself out there! Maybe we should get buttons or stamps made up with your suggested disclaimer, eh, Brinda?

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  2. I like #7. I finally sent my book proposal to a publisher on Monday, and by Wednesday I had an e-mail back from him to say he would be happy to take a look at my manuscript. Now the waiting game is in progress to find out if they will accept or reject. But whichever way the decision is made, I wil not give up. Perseverance is a great word, Elaine. I have adopted it as my motto.

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  3. How to not feel so bad about critique? This is what I do. When ask for my feedback, I tell the person I’d like both positive and negative feedback. I explain this is not just for my ego, for me to understand what works as well as what doesn’t work. I truly believe this. To continually become a better writer, I need to learn what works and why. Then I can use the technique again.

    I write mysteries, so I also ask that the person write the name of the character they think did the crime in the margin. Every time they think this, I want to know. This helps me determine if I’ve dropped too many hints early or not enough.

    It’s hard to see what’s good about your own writing sometimes, and even the tiniest positive comment is enough to keep me going.

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    • I like your proactive way of dealing with critiquing, Kristina. I think I might adopt that. And you are so right about needing to know what works well just as much as what doesn’t. Thanks for your excellent input.

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  4. I must be strange, because the need to publish isn’t the primary reason I write. I write because I love it, and because the more I write the better I will become. I have mixed feelings about seeing my words in print. It would surely be a thrill, but I dread the hate mail.
    Maybe as I get further up the learning curve this will change for me, but for now it is enough for me to get a positive response from a beta reader. 🙂

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    • Good point. The more we write, the better we become. I am interested in your comment about having others see your words. I think the more I have put myself out there, the less I have worried about that, but I most certainly did in the beginning. Keep up the struggle, Kirsten!

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  5. Hi Elaine – great post. I thought they were all good points, but the one that most resonated with me was #7. You do actually need to develop the skill to write- however much you want to be an out the box writer – the craft does need to be honed. Some are luckier that others than having a more natural ability.I believe all people are creative and it’s often suppressed. But not everyone is creative in all fields. That said, assuming the craft has been acquired, the amount of perseverance is incredible. It definitely requires a good amount of self belief – considering we are all out own harshest critics, that’s no small feat. Then to move onto publishing and the months & years that may take -phew! I’m exhausted even thinking about it all. But we do want to persevere with all these steps, and perhaps having that drive to overcome those obstacles can give us some validation, that yes, we are writers. The simple truth is , however ‘good’, a writer needs to write.

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    • Well said, A.K. And welcome to my comment space on my blog. I particularly like your allusion to ability in writers as I’ve noticed that varies greatly. Thanks for your wise words.

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  6. All very valid points and great responses so far too! I agree with Kristina. Critiquing is tricky but the key, like any review is to point out the positives as well as the negatives. Hopefully the contrast between the two will serve as the breeding ground for new ideas.

    I do strongly believe in inate talent, like “an ear for music” there is a talent for word weaving/story telling. But it is also something that can be learned.

    I do also write just for that electric thrill when the words align. That said, being published is a means to getting my story to readers and spreading that thrill, so It is a goal. Ultimately it is a reward for all the hard work, like your research and sweat stringing it together.

    Great post Elaine!

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    • I love ‘electric thrill when the words align’ and know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I think it is a way of self-congratulation, I get such a charge out of my own written words. Is that bad?

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  7. Hi Elaine,

    You are so right! There are way too many steps to trip on as we make our way up the hill to being published. And many more once you pass the publishing gateway. It doesn’t stop, the steps just change in shape. It’s friends that understand that make the difference in keeping that necessary eternal optimism up. Thanks for the great article!

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  8. Especially #3! I can’t seem to stop revising. There is always a better word or phrase or detail than what I wrote in revision #20! Letting go of the bird to see if it flies is diffucult but necessary.

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  9. I have written poems as a teen, then term papers in college, and a thesis, then articles as an adult, and after trying to figure out what to write a book about, I decided to write a blog instead. It is instant publishing, which is gratifying, and I can change my topic daily if I want. Maybe blogging will give me a great book idea, or maybe I will have so much fun blogging, that I will forget writing a book. A new author I know said her first book took her 7 years from beginning to write to getting the book published. Do I want to spend 7 years of my life writing a book? I sure would have to like the topic/characters! I certainly am enjoying reading your blog, and I would not have found it if I hadn’t started my own blog at wordpress. Funny how the path wanders. 😉

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