Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hard Choices ALL Writers Must Make

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 it, 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.

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. Excellent list, Edie. One I run into specifically is having to say "no" to some friends (even family) who don't write and also don't understand why you can't just "do this and write later." Your deadlines, your opportunities, your "moments with the muse", your privacy at a particular time is going to pre-empt things and their usual understanding sags. We get better at bowing out, but they may not understand our internal battle is still there and this is the ONLY way that piece, that story, that poem is ever going to get written. Commitment to writing can take just as much (or more) discipline as exercise and dieting. And it's even MORE difficult during seasons like Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

    1. Jay, great insight! I'm so glad you're part of my commuity, Blessings, E

  2. Boy did I need to read this today Ms. Edie. Thank you so much. I've saved this, as I do many posts here; and with your permission, I'm taping your quote on my computer. God's blessings young lady. “If you can imagine yourself doing anything else besides writing—do it!” -Edie Melson. INDEED!

    1. Jim, you are so kind! You can always quote me - Blessings, E

  3. Great list! Finding time to write is not the problem. My daily word count is so low. At least any progress beats no progress.
    Great article, Edie!

    1. Ingmar, progress is ALWAYS a good thing! Blessings, E

  4. Yes, we do have to say "No" to some activities. But, I have found I need to have times when I am around people. I prefer to write when the house is quiet. My husband has issues sleeping and sleeps into the morning. As I sit here at my computer, I realize I can begin working on my thoughts for 2019. That thought frees me from stress. I try to utilize these quiet times to pray, to read my Bible and other Christian books and to write. Thank you for your thoughts and your guidance.

    1. Sounds like you've definitely got your process in place. Excellent! Blessings, E

  5. Edie, thanks for making crystal clear what I was ignoring in the back of my mind. Lol. Seeing it in black & white helps. Thanks :)