Friday, October 5, 2012

Life Lessons—Tools for the Journey


The writer's path is tough, and takes some special tools

Being a writer is tough—rewarding—but tough. After a particularly difficult rejection (and aren’t they all) my husband held me while I sobbed, and had this to say, “Why couldn’t you have wanted to be something easy, like a movie star?”

His tongue in cheek remark had a good bit of the truth in it. And truly, if you can get by without writing you probably should. For the rest of us, this journey requires some coping skills. Many are acquired along the path, but some you can stock up on in advance. 


  • Patience. I know, but I had to start with this one. Success is rarely an overnight occurrence. My long-time crit partner, Vonda Skelton will be happy to point this out. She’s fond of reminding anyone who asks that it only took me 11 years to become an overnight success.
A writer needs thick skin to survive
  • Thick Skin. Again, not something we want to think about. For me, no matter how hard I try to develop a tough outer layer, it only seems to come with scar tissue. Rejection and criticism hurt. But if you dig through the muck, the pain can propel you to success
  • A Sense of the Ridiculous. A lot of people will say you need a sense of humor, but I think it goes beyond that. Yes, it’s the ability to laugh at yourself, and at situations. But it’s also the gift of seeing past the frustration into the deeper issues. For example, today I ran into an incredibly frustrating situation with insurance. After I quit throwing things and crying, I used my sense of frustration to bring a deeper level of emotion to my characters in my WIP (that’s Work In Progress for those newbies out there).
  • Dissatisfaction with Your Current Level of Expertise. When I started out, I thought I knew a great deal about writing. That in itself was proof I was a raw beginner. To this day, every single exceptional writer I know, has told me how much they have yet to learn about the craft of writing. If they still have something to learn, I guarantee you the rest of us do too.
Part of my writing tribe, the My Book Therapy Core Team
  • A Writing Tribe. Writing is a lonely endeavor. Without those who understand what we’re experiencing, it can be impossible to succeed. I don’t care if your team is a weekly critique group, an online set of friends, or a single partner. We desperately need the perspective of some who knows the path of a writer and wants to help us succeed. 

Now it’s your turn. What tools have helped you along the writing path? Don’t be afraid to share, we’re all better when we stand together.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

14 comments:

  1. My writing tribe (adopting that term) has been my biggest tool in getting through those challenges. Knowing someone else believed in my abilities even when I didn't helped me to stay focused. Their prayers and words of wisdom--and yes, words of tough love truth--were so necessary in my forward motion as a writer.

    Plus having solid writing resources like great writing organizations, craft books and conferences or retreats have helped me grow as a writer.

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    1. Lisa, you're so right, having the organizations with ongoing education opportunities are invaluable! When I achive this post, I'll definitely add that one to my list. Blessings, E

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  2. I don't have a local writing tribe, but God has blessed me with many online writer friends who encourage and pray for me, helping me to stay focused and moving forward. Then there are those conferences like Boot Camp and CCC who have helped me "break through" so many obstacles...last but not least...Edie...I love the resources you
    challenge and encourage us writers with. God bless you today and thanks for sharing!

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    1. Glenda, you're well on your way to developing a tribe. An online tribe can be every bit as valuable as one locally. In some ways they can be more accessible than those close by. Don't discount the impact your making in others' lives as well. You're an important part of the community I'm involved in! Blessings, E

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  3. Thanks so much for this post, Edie. Reminds me of McNair Wilson's definition of tribe: The Right Individuals Bragging Endlessly. :) So glad you're a part of the MBT team and sharing your knowledge with us!

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    1. Angie, thanks for reminding me of McNair's acronym for tribe. He is so right! Blessings, E

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  4. You are absolutely right about the patience thingy. That's why my tag line is I asked God for patience and He gave me a book to write. :)

    Another thing I've learned along the way...use rejection to make your book better. Glean from the criticism, figure out what part of it can help make your wip stronger. Not all criticism is valid, but if something raises a red flag for an editor, you might want to look at what they perceive as a problem and (after you'd had time to think about it) maybe agree.

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    1. Pat, wise words, and a great tag line! I totally agree about the rejection part. It's never fun, but can, surprisingly often, get you further down the path in the right direction. Blessings, E

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  5. All great points, Edie. I think another thing that gets me through is being a "possibilities" person. Sure, if I submit to something, I may not get published. But if I DON'T submit to it, it's a pretty good guarantee that I won't!

    I'm so thankful to have had you in my life all these years. :-)

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  6. Thanks Edie for this post. Yesterday wasn't the greatest day for me...AT ALL. But, I am thankful for a husband who listens to me and holds me as I weep. I am also thankful for having a God whose mercies are new every morning! Thanks for giving me perspective! It was definitely timely. Blessings, Jackie Perry

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  7. Sensory description is top on my list. If I can firmly place myself in a setting AND take someone with me with my words...I have succeeded because then they can join the character on his journey.

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  8. I can't believe anyone would reject your writing. Alas, God has it all under control. If you never got rejected you would not be able to truly comfort the rest of us!
    Tools that help me are writers' conferences and reading lots of books on the craft of writing. I wish I had a critique group of children's lit. writers nearby to join.

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  9. Thanks Edie for your post. Just called my husband at work because I had a migraine starting and needed to blubber to someone. I didn't need a headache just when I sat down to do the bills and then do some editing. We just got back from vacation, and the cabin we thought would be wonderful for writing failed to have the benefits listed. :) Anyways, I've got the blues right now. My grandmother used to say that having a good cry does a world of good. (Maybe we don't allow ourselves to "let it all go".) I think she's right--sometimes it helps, along with venting to fellow writers! Thanks for the chance to ramble. Now, I'll blow my nose and get back to business. The sparkly lights have gone away and I can see to type this. God's touch, aspirin, and sweet tea are taking care of the headache. Now, I just have to wait for word from my agent that the publishing house, which asked to do a full read on my book, is willing to sign with me. :) Patience ... wait ... wait ....

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  10. What a wonderful group of writers!

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