Writing Against the Tide

Writers face some unique challenges in pursuing their craft. Some of these differences — such as the difficulty of finding a job in your field after graduation — have been minimized or eliminated in our current economy where everyone is struggling to find jobs even remotely close to what they trained in or have experience in. But others of those challenges belong fairly exclusively to writers. (Check out this hilarious, but oh-so-true article by Electric Lit: If Strangers Talked to Everybody like They Talk to Writers.)

One of these remaining challenges is that many writers struggle to be taken seriously by family and friends.

Yes, I’m going there.

I’m fortunate: I have many, many people in my life that have been super-supportive of my writing ambitions despite how long I’ve been working on my novel and the lack of writing credits to my name. They truly believe that some day… Some day I’ll be published. And I’m so grateful for their loyalty and faith — it’s something to hang on to on those days when I feel like I’m never going to finish my novel, let alone ever see it in print.

Others don’t have it so lucky. How many of you struggle to make those around you understand that when you’re writing, they need to treat it as if you’re working in a “REAL JOB”? That is, no interruptions until you’re done your writing session.

20140818 Keyboard

Well here’s the tough love part of this post: if you want others to take your writing seriously, you need to take your writing seriously. That means not answering the phone while you write. (Check your voicemail after the call if you need to, to assure yourself that it wasn’t an emergency and when it’s not, continue writing!) It means not responding to texts (except again, for emergencies). It means giving yourself the space, both physical and mental to write — i.e. no writing in bed with the TV on across the room.

It means writing regularly.

I found this great post called 7 Habits of Serious Writers. I highly recommend it. She echoes some of my suggestions and has several other ones like of all things, reading:

“By reading, you’ll see how other writers tackle similar problems. You’ll learn what works, and what doesn’t.You’ll know what’s been done before, over and over again, and what hasn’t.

“You should definitely read work by other authors in your area: if you’re writing a thriller, read thrillers; if you’re writing a sales page, read sales pages. But, ideally, you’ll want to read as widely as possible – leaving yourself open to new ideas and techniques.”

And about behaving professionally:

“Having a professional attitude to your writing means, essentially, taking it seriously. Valuing what you do, and doing it well. […]

“If you write fiction, professionalism means following submission guidelines carefully, presenting your best work, and respecting other people’s time.

“Even if you’re not yet making any money from your writing, it still pays to behave professionally. Other writers – and associated gatekeepers, like agents and editors – will take you much more seriously.

Bam! In other words, treat your writing as a job and not as a hobby. (For those of you who do consider your writing a hobby, this is clearly not directed at you!)

Make your writing a priority in your life and make it important in your life and soon the people around you will start to treat it the same way. And if they don’t? Can’t let that stop you!

And if all this isn’t enough, read these reasons why you should take your writing seriously: Five Reasons Why Your Writing Matters (Even if No-One Will Take You Seriously).

Now get writing!

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About thewritingblues

I'm a writer working on a YA dystopian novel and blogging on my progress - or lack thereof - and other cool writing stuff.
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4 Responses to Writing Against the Tide

  1. Vivian says:

    Timely post (pun intended!)
    I am struggling to keep writing, while dealing with health issues and work and the death of a beloved dog.
    Changes happen, but my story is still there. Some days I only write 100 words; some days I simply stare out the window thinking about it – thinking counts, right? I’ve taken to listening to audio books during my workouts at the gym to cram in reading time since my health issues are related to vision. I find listening to my favorite books helps me recognize voice – the writer’s voice, not the narrator’s actual voice – and other things like pace and dialogue. It also is soothing, like visiting an old friend.
    I’ve also tried dictation software, but it only is correct about 70% of the time. Then I have to edit the text so much it doesn’t feel like I’m making any progress.
    One thing I’ve found through all these challenges is that if I make time in my day to work on my story, actual writing or not, I not only stay engaged, it is like an anchor, like a safe place I can go in the midst of turmoil.
    Thanks for the post and links to the other articles. They were all great.

  2. thewritingblues says:

    Thank you, Vivian, for writing. You’ve brought up a very good point — obviously life sometimes kicks you down and it becomes a matter of survival. You don’t have the luxury of making your writing as important as you’d like it to be. I think you’re doing an amazing job of still fitting your story into your life somehow, because you’re right: thinking about your story is just as important as writing it. (But remember that if it gets to be too much, your story will always be there for you to come back to.)

    I used to love audio books; with a good narrator, they provide a different way of experiencing the story and so can give you different insights into the author’s techniques and style.

    Hang in there and I especially appreciate you reading with your vision issues. For someone who loves to read and write, that especially sucks. Take care.

  3. Dawn Simon says:

    Great post, Mara! I agree: Whether published or not, we have to be professionals, set office hours, and give our writing the respect it deserves!

  4. thewritingblues says:

    Thanks, Dawn! Yes you’re right! but I’m one of those for whom it is super-hard to do that — too many years of set office hours and school hours — set by someone ELSE that is, lol. It’s a (good) challenge and so important in moving forward and taking yourself seriously as a writer.

    Thanks for reading!

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