Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Writer's Life - Hard Choices We All Face

By Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

True confession time.

Writing is both the thing I love best and the thing I hate most.

When the words flow, it’s heaven on earth. When they stutter to a halt, the opposite is true. And the truth is, both of these circumstances are a regular part of the writer’s life.

We write when we feel like, and when we don’t. We write when we’re inspired, and when we’re not. Most of all, we write because we have to. Putting words on paper is life to us—an addiction without a recovery group.

The time to write isn’t something we find. It’s something we sacrifice for, carving it out of lives that are as busy as anyone else. I get so weary of wanna-be writers complaining about no time to write.

Time to write isn't something we find.
I have author friends who don’t have the time either. One author I know honored a deadline even though his granddaughter was having brain surgery—he wrote in the hospital waiting room. Another, a stay-at-home mom, had just the opportunity of a contract and she wrote in the ten and fifteen minutes breaks available while caring for a special needs daughter, a preschooler and a toddler. 

I could share story after story after story about how writers I know have sacrificed to follow their vocation—all true. The truth is that we all have the same 24 hours in a day and we all have the choice of how to spend them.

“If you can imagine yourself doing anything else besides writing—do it!”

I’ve been known to give this advice to those just starting out—because they still have time to turn back. I’m a hopeless case. I’ll write myself into a grave and hopefully beyond.

Becoming a writer is a decision—followed by a life of choices that enable us to live out that commitment.

Here are some of the hard choices you’ll need to make to find writing success:
  • 1. Trading TV time for writing time. You’ll need those hours to put words on paper.
  • 2. Committing to a lifetime of learning and staying current with the publishing industry. The industry is changing a lightning speed, either keep up or die.
  • 3. Saying no to the good things, so you’ll have time to say yes to the best things. Writing is an isolated life a lot of the time.
  • 4. A willingness to write through the junk to get to gems. Good writing is rewriting—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • 5. The necessity of checking your ego at the door. There’s always someone more talented, successful, lucky, etc. Get over it and move on.
  • 6. A willingness to trust other professionals—like your agent, your editor, and your critique partners.
  • 7. An unwillingness to compromise what truly matters. And no this does NOT contradict #6.
  • 8. Trading talking about writing for actually putting words on the page. Networking is important, but not as important as writing.
  • 9. The commitment to keep going when the odds seem impossible. In this industry impossible odds is the new normal.
Well, this is my list. It’s your turn to add your thoughts. You all always have such valuable insights, please share them below in the comments section.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!



  1. I've played dodge ball with the label of "writer" for years. However, when I saw black ink stains on my new white bed sheets one morning I saw the label was true. I had fallen asleep with the pen in my hand as I was writing in my journal at bed time. Yes, it was a stolen moment or that was my plan until words pored out while my eyes won the battle the pen slipped from my hand. I was branded in action.

    Love this post. Write on!

    1. Carolyn, I feel your pain. I've played that same game with the label "speaker." But how sweet it was the day I surrendered and accepted God's plan for my life! Blessings, E

  2. Edie, Because of you and a few others keeping it real, I have not quit. Thank you for relaying the hard truth about the writers life.

    1. Cherrilynn, you are one of my heroes! I've watched you accept God's call and never look back. Your constancy and joy are an encouragement to me and to so many! Blessings, E

  3. Oh, why do I have such a need to see 10 rather than 9 items on your list? I have one to add, but I fear it only applies to me: who to gift a book to and who to sell it to. The dilemma only happens with certain friends or family members. Some who've contributed nothing to your journey other than to wish you well, give the impression that they shouldn't oughtta have to pay for it.

    1. Jay, I just like to change it up now and then with 9 instead of 10. LOL! Those are good thoughts - thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

  4. Edie,

    Yes. Thanks for setting down the hard choices that a writer must make. As a closet perfectionist (although you couldn't tell it from my house), #4 is the hardest. After reading some of the junk that I've written, it would be hard to give it all up. But every now and again, I'll read a turn of phrase or even a sentence and think, "Did I write that?" (a là Urkel)

    Here's hoping I have more Urkel moments in 2017! Thanks for the post!

    1. Angie, I love that! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  5. Reality Check! Thank you for your transparency.

  6. Amen, Edie...and thanks! Pinned & shared. :)

    1. Linda, thank you so much for your encouragement! Blessings, E

  7. I can so relate to the addiction without the recovery group. It chooses you!

  8. Yes! This is the kick in the pants I needed this morning!

    If I didn't capitalize on those little 5-10 minute snippets of time, I wouldn't be writing at all. And that's just unimaginable to me!