The Emotions of Book-Writing
I sat there, fingers poised over my keyboard ready to create a masterpiece and… I just couldn’t start. Discouraged, I closed my laptop, pushed my chair back from my desk and got up, yet again, to work on something else.
The life of a writer is a confusing one at best, overwhelming at its worst. Writing a book presents a battle of conflicting emotions to wade through from the moment we tentatively entertain the notion throughout the selling and marketing process. When I share this truth with friends and other would-be writers I often hear “Why would anyone write a book? It seems so hard!”
While this is absolutely true, it saddens my heart to think someone might not be willing to share their stories because the emotional cacophony surrounding their writing endeavors overwhelmed them.
That got me thinking.
Looking back on my own writing journey I have come to understand that there are a myriad of emotions surrounding any type of writing. Having the ability to look back (and having the perspective of many other writers) I can now see that the emotional turmoil of writing is not only completely normal, but also an essential part of the writing process as a whole.
So, what if there was a way to recognize the emotional struggles involved in the writer’s life so that when they occurred we could address them knowing that A) we aren’t alone in experiencing them, and B) there was a way to face them and move through them to a finished manuscript? Would that help would-be writers succeed?
One can only hope, right? So, here is my list of The (most common) Emotions of Book-Writing:
FEAR. This is one of the strongest emotions of writing. Fear of creating something no one else wants to read. Fear of not finishing. Fear of success. Fear of all the work involved. Fear of the editing process. Fear of being rejected by publishers. Fear of letting our friends and family down. All of these fears (and more) are real and a part of any writer's life.
The keys to beating FEAR:
Remember to believe the truth that you are not alone in facing FEAR and that you do have the power to overcome it.
Remember to focus on the telling of the story rather than on the future success we hope (or fear) to achieve. When the focus is on writing the story well we free ourselves from fear because it is no longer about anything other than telling the story.
LONELINESS. Writers have to work alone in order to flesh out characters, concepts, plot-lines and organizational structures of our books. While at first this may seem wonderful (you mama writers and part-time writers with additional careers know what I’m talking about), the continued isolation leads to loneliness because we must often choose to use our free time away from others in order to write.
The keys to beating LONELINESS:
Remember the old adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is also true of our writing. Creating a healthy balance of writing time and time with those who we enjoy being around will keep the majority of LONELINESS' effects at bay.
Remember to vary your writing places. Quiet offices are good, but so are places that have people. Places like coffee houses or diners where you can take a break to observe those around you are especially helpful to the writing process.
FRUSTRATION. Writer’s block, deadlines, computer malfunctions, interruptions, illness…life has a way of getting into the middle of our writing space. It’s understandable really. Just because we are writing a book does not preclude the rest of our world from needing us to be present. And, unless you have the luxury of being able to hunker down in an isolated cabin somewhere until you are finished, interruptions will be the norm rather than the exception in your writing journey.
The key to beating FRUSTRATION:
Remember than nothing great was ever built in a day or without setbacks. The journey from first word to last will take time and there will be problems. Remembering this helps us have more patience with ourselves and those around us when the disruptions come.
Remember that writing is only ONE part of your life. Keeping your life in balance according to the priorities you have will not only keep the frustrations at bay, but will also make you a better writer.
EXHAUSTION. Once the writing is finished and the final manuscript is out of your hands and on its way to publication the real work of selling your book begins. Interior layouts need to be reviewed and modified. Cover designs need to be finessed and updated to match the final product. Launch teams need to be notified. Sales sites need to be contacted. Social media marketing campaigns need to be mapped out and pre-sale ordering mobilized (just to name a few actions). But, moving another finger to do anything for that book is enough to make you want to run and hide. Believe me, I so know how this feels!
The keys to beating EXHAUSTION:
Remember that writing is only one phase of the whole publishing experience. While writing is hard, without marketing all your efforts are wasted because no one will know about the fabulous book you created.
Remember that putting yourself “out there” in the form of interviews, blog tours, marketing, speaking engagements and email messages to friends and family is about putting something you worked hard to create and (hopefully) believe in into the hands of those who need to read it. It’s not about you. It’s about adding value to your readers’ lives.
What emotions have you experienced as a writer? How did you overcome them?