Wednesday, December 2, 2015

10 Things That Steal Our Writing Joy

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson


I’m a member of several writing groups, and I’m always amazed at the different reactions people have to similar situations. For instance, one writer might leave a critique session in tears, questioning whether or not the call to write was real. Another writer might have just as challenging a critique and leave energized because she now has the insight she needs to improve.

I’ve begun paying attention to the way the writers I respect handle this writing life. I’ve noticed that even though life gets hard at times, they never lose their writing joy. I’m trying to take deliberate steps to guard my joy of writing and not let things and/or people steal it from me. Today I’d like to share what I’ve discovered with you.
Things That Steal Our Writing Joy
1. Being a One Way Writer. By this I mean that we’re only happy when things turn out one way. We want things a certain way and in a certain time-frame. Truthfully, it’s the writers who are flexible that retain their joy in this business.

2. Being Unwilling to Let Go of Expectations. This one word can derail us for months, or even years, if we let it. It’s fine to make plans, but we can’t hang our hope—or our joy—on expectations.

Not learning to roll with punches.
3. Not Learning to Roll with the Punches. Hard times will come in this business. Landing a book deal and/or an agent is tough, and rarely happens quickly. When we have those two things, life can still blindside us. Contracts are cancelled, editors and agents move on without us. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and get back to writing, no matter what happens.

4. Always Looking Backward. If we dwell on the way things used to be in publishing, we’ll always be miserable. Not because things were always better, but because we think we remember them being better. Whether they were or weren’t really isn’t the point. What we need to do is learn what we can from the past and then keep our eyes firmly forward.

5. Chasing Trends. It’s tempting to tailor what we’re writing to what’s currently popular with publishers. But that’s a dead end road. There’s always something new, and it’s just not possible to pull out a crystal ball and write to what’s going to be hot when it hit the market. A wise writer  gave me some advice I’ve never regretted following. “Write your passion. Don’t settle. Write what you love.” KristenHeitzmann

Listening to the negative voices.
6. Listening to the Negative Voices. There are two types of negative voices—the ones that live in your head and the ones belonging to those around us. I believe it’s the ones inside us that are the most dangerous. For one thing, they’re much more brazen. They say things that we’d never speak out loud. But if we let others also talk us out of following our dreams, they can be dangerous too. Take constructive criticism, but don’t let the negative words bring you down.

7. Giving in to Fear. No matter how much we achieve as writers, we’re still fearful. We’re afraid of failure, of ridicule, even of success. But those writers who keep their joy are the ones who continue on in spite of the fear. They even get stronger because of the fear they overcome.

8. Perfectionism. We want to strive for our very best. But we need to understand that perfection is out of our grasp. Perfectionism can keep us from submitting our work for publication, and it can even keep us from writing. Aim high and always keep learning, but be willing accept the best you can do.

9. Not Writing. I truly believe that if our purpose in life is writing, and we don't make time to write, we'll be miserable. I know so many people who want to write, know they're called to write, and yet let everything else squeeze out the time to write. They are some of the most stressed out folks you'll ever see. 

10. Forgetting the Reason You Started Writing in the First Place. We can get so caught up in the chase, that we forget why we entered the race. For me, God made me a writer. I process life through words. When I hit hard times and good times, one of my first actions is to record it, process it, and cope with it through writing. When I return to that, no matter what else is going on, everything falls into place.

These are the things I’ve found that steal our writing joy. What would you add?

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

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22 comments:

  1. Thank you Edie. I have been stuck. I have not worked on my book in a week. Your post revealed to me why. I am a perfectionist. I want everything perfect the first time. Jerry B. Jenkins made this statement yesterday "Spend time developing your skills in the minors before you throw a pitch in the major leagues. You’ll thank yourself later." I must remember that I am new to writing. I am learning and growing. I am blessed to be surrounded by such great advice. I will take it to heart. Thanks again.

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    1. I think you're doing well! Hang in there and keep moving forward! Blessings, E

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  2. #9 & 10 are the two biggest one's for me! (Although I think almost all of them resonated me with on some level). Like you, I tend to process through words. When I have situations that crop up in life (usually hard ones) my thoughts almost immediately start forming a blog post! Another joy thief: comparison!

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    1. Amanda, I can't believe I left that one off!!! Thanks for adding it! Blessings, E

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  3. You wrote just what I needed to hear today. Thank you. friend!

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    1. Edie you nailed many things I struggle with as a writer. Thanks for inspiring me to keep writing!

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    2. Vonda and Therese, thanks so much for your encouragement! Blessings, E

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  4. My temptation is to quit my writing/ministry plans for a job where I work, then get paid. Black and white, crystal clear. But I would be miserable, regretful. Like I tell my kids, it's not the things in life you did that cause regret, it's the things you didn't do.

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    1. Jennifer, very wise advice! Thank you for sharing, Blessings, E

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  5. Oh, boy. Thank you for this, Edie. So many truths here--glad I've moved past a few of them, still on the way with a few more. But that's the name of the game…progress (however slow) along a passionate pathway!

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    1. Gail, we're all in the same path. I'm glad we're all in this together. Thanks for stopping by, E

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  6. Excellent post, Edie. You really captured my heart today.
    One thing I would add is feeling overwhelmed by the current state of publishing. Finding an agent can seem impossible. Traditional publishers only seem interested in already established authors and are reluctant to take on first timers. Building a platform can seem like building the pyramids only they took one of the brick-building ingredients away and then wrote the instructions in Klingon. Indie publishing seems promising but how do you not get lost in the sea of so many authors doing the same thing.
    The fear you mention is part of this but its more like a paralysis at the immensity that faces us.

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    1. Henry, you are so right! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Blessings, E

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  7. #8 - my Achilles heel. Thanks for the reminders, Edie. :)

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    1. We all need the reminders! Blessings, E

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  8. #6 is the biggest one for me - I'm working through that one. Thanks for these. Have shared in hopes of helping others.

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  9. Thank you Edie!

    Spot on, especially #10!

    Paul
    aka The Mayor ☕

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  10. #6 and #8 mostly. But it's great to know most writers do too and that's ok, so thank you for posting it!

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  11. This is an excellent list. As a professional therapist, I recognise many of these human fallibilities from my work with clients. For instance people are prone to perfectionism or giving into fear in many areas of their lives.

    Of course, as writing is such a personal matter our fear of judgement, failure, and even success can be even more acute. An trait that I hadn't considered is 'always looking backward'! I can see how this is unhelpful for a writer – it's unhelpful for pretty much anyone!

    Great post – thank you.

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