Facing the Challenges
As writers, we face harsh challenges each and every day. More so than anyone may truly realize. Writing isn’t just a matter of sitting down at a keyboard and belting out a bestseller. There’s so much more to writing than just putting words into print. Turning your thoughts into cohesive structured chapters that will both engage and entertain your target audience. There’s so much more to it than that. Let me point out just some of the challenges writers struggle with.
Finding Time to Write:
This is a big one. Unless you’ve already achieved a certain measure of financial independence, you have to have a “day job” until your writing pays the bills for you. You have to keep food on the table and a roof over your head, especially if you have a family. I faced working more than one job, working long hours, overtime, extended shifts and extended periods with no days off. That was just for starters. As a corrections officer and police officer, you don’t exactly make a lot of money. I took extra shifts, long hours, second (and even third) jobs and scrimped just to get by. That generally left me with little or no time for spending with my kids, much less putting words down in print. I love my wife and sons, so I worked more than was probably healthy in pursuit of giving them a better life than I had. Writing was just a dream and it had to take a back seat. Hell, for years, it took no seat at all. I simply didn’t have time. The big drawback to working all of those hours and jobs was the time it took away from my family. I missed a lot of things that I will regret until I die. There are so many things I could have, should have, done better. I did my best in bad circumstances, but wish I had done better. My writing only became a serious consideration once my boys were well into their teens and I found ways to write when they were either asleep or I should have been. But, I did manage to publish my first novel then. It took more time than I ever thought it would, but it happened. Then I did it again. The second book was a bit easier.
Challenge number two, I suppose. Fighting through lack of sleep, struggling with things I needed to get finished on top of my normal job, getting enough done that I could slip over to the computer for a little while then discovering that I either didn’t have the energy to write or I just couldn’t find the words to type. My motivation was mostly gone for a very long time. Hell, I still struggle with it. Especially when you write books and then have to struggle with sales and marketing. I wanted to be a writer, not a publicist. I struggle with that, trying to get my books in front of my audience and into the hands of the people who would read my work. When you fight against that, sometimes it can kill what motivation you have to write. You ask yourself, why should I bother? What good is it really doing? I struggle with that, almost constantly. I have seventeen books in print but I still wonder what I’m doing. Am I doing what’s best for my family? I tell myself that once I hit the tipping point where my writing generates a large following, then it will all be worth it. Keeping my spirits high and my motivation levels up is a struggle, until then. I know it can happen. I see it all the time. Writers making good. All that takes is that one lucky break or the right person seeing your writing, then BANG. It happens, almost like magic. Getting there is the harder part. I tell myself that it can and will happen. It’s just a matter of time and of timing. Until then, I keep writing and keep dreaming the dream. I will find my motivation.
Yes, we deal with that too. Not just our own lack of motivation, but negativity from other people. No matter what you do or write, someone won’t like it. You can’t write something that everyone will love. It just won’t happen. Even JK Rowling who has had HUGE success as a writer, still has people who don’t like her writing for whatever reason. It’s just the reality of writing. Everyone has different tastes and you can’t make everyone happy. However, pissing everyone off is a piece of cake. In this day and age, it seems like people aren’t content to just ignore things they don’t like. They go out of their way to destroy them. If they don’t like it, no one else can either. That’s a horrible way to look at things. We’re all different and we all like different things. It would be a really boring world if we were all the exact same. It’s our differences that make this world interesting. Finding new experiences, new stories and new things to entertain us is the hallmark of life, itself. We all crave the new and unexpected, especially in writing. No one wants to read the same old thing, over and over. They want interesting new characters, new settings, new plots and new adventures. That’s what our job is, as a writer. To provide those new stories and adventures for our readers to enjoy. That’s why we should all be excited about different perspectives and styles in writing. Diversity comes in many forms, not just in the writer. Different styles of writing, types of stories and ways of painting those mental images is what keeps the writing fresh and vital. It’s the stories the readers are interested in, not just the writer.
All of the other non-writing challenges:
This is a catch-all category. It covers all of those things that writers have to do that aren’t actually writing new stories. The editing, the layouts, the marketing, the promotion work, the submissions of manuscripts to publishers and editors… and that’s just a start. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. Once you reach the point where you’re trying to publish your work or already have, there are a million things that you have to do just to try and get your writing noticed. Most publishers require you to do all of your own promotional work, unless you’ve got a large enough following that they can justify spending money on advertisement. For most of us, that’s just not the way of things. We have to do all of our own promotions, marketing, publicity and press work. I don’t know about the rest of the writing community, but I never figured on that when I first set out to be a writer. I never knew it would be so much work and time spent just trying to get your name and work in front of an audience. To build and cultivate that audience into a following and then transition that into consistent sales. It’s a nigh insurmountable task, comparable to one of the great labors of Hercules, himself. What I wouldn’t give to hit that mark, where my only real worry as getting the next manuscript to the editor and then on to the next one. I dream of that day. I pray for that day. One day… maybe… hopefully.
While this certainly isn’t an all-inclusive list, it does paint a picture of the struggles that writers face. It’s not just a matter of saying “hey, I’m gonna sit down and write a bestseller.” I wish it was that easy and simple. Then again, nothing worth having ever is. Working hard to build something, anything, is the struggle that we all face. We work hard to reach our goals, our hopes and our dreams. It takes hard work and determination to get there. It won’t be easy. I wouldn’t expect it to be any other way. Nothing in my entire life has ever been easy, why would this be different? I will keep trying, keep writing and keep working so long as there’s breath left in my body. I’ll just put on another pot of coffee, select some good music and get back to work.
Writing has been a difficult journey, but it’s still one worth taking. I’m happy that so many of you have chosen to take it with me. So many of you have written to me or left reviews or sent messages via social media, encouraging me to keep writing. That’s the plan. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where this journey takes us. Thank you for taking it with me.
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