Look, we all got into this game for a reason. I started writing in my early teens, adventuring into some short lived stories that died minutes after they began as I realized writing was not as easy as writers made it seem. I likely would never have taken it further if not for one spectacular professor who not only taught me the basics of crafting a scene, but also encouraged me more than I deserved, instilling in me the very buds of self-confidence that would guide me through the much harsher waters that is publishing today. I don’t think I need to remind anyone reading this that publishing is tough—it’s unpredictable, unfair, and as this recent article by Publisher’s Weekly points out, becoming even more top heavy than it already was. Baby fish (like me, like most of us) have to swim harder and faster than ever in order to be seen, constantly dodging and weaving the countless rejections on the way. It’s tough. Publishing, in a word, sucks.
It is an intrinsic fact that publishing sucks. Any publishing professional will tell you it sucks. Every writer has their own horror story of publishing suckiness. Every single one. (And if you don’t have one yet, so sorry to tell you that you one day will. Gird your loins now.)
And yet, here we are, wading through the bullshit anyway. Why?
Because we love writing. We love it dearly. We love crafting stories, breathing life and purpose into new people and worlds. We love the art of sentence rearranging, of witty metaphors, of our own trauma and wonder and joy and fury being translated into something tangible, something that makes sense both to us and to others.
It is the closest thing we have to magic, if you ask me. But it’s a fragile magic, one that is so integral to our hearts that the downfalls can seem catastrophic. It is easy to become lost, but it is in those darkest hours that we must remember what brought us here to begin with. For me, I remember that professor, Laura. I remember telling her that a short story I had written had placed in a writing competition. I remember the quizzical look on her face as she said, “Of course it has,” as if there was never a doubt in her mind that I would succeed. I remember saying to her, a question wrapped in a statement, “Wow, I think I can really do this.” And I remember her slight smile, and her slow yet emphatic yes, drawn out a few extra beats so that there was no mistaking her sincerity.
As lovely as that all sounds (and it is lovely), that doesn’t always work when I’m in a serious funk. In the darkest times, my go to tactic is to stop writing all together. Maybe a week. Maybe a month. Sometimes nearly a year has passed between putting words on a page. But every time I throw myself into a hiatus, no matter the length, I always find myself scrambling back. I just can’t not write. Just a scribble here, a character there, a conversation in that place there, and boom, here comes the rest of it. Usually with a vigor that I’d thought I had lost.
I’d love to know what works for the rest of you. Us writers need all the tips and tricks we can get. I’m 13 years into this game and still learning stuff daily. I also put a couple links at the bottom for inspiration, if you need it.
If you take nothing else from this though, just please don’t forget that you are a writer, and you are magic. And you aren’t alone.