Have you always dreamed of writing? How’s that dream shaping up? Is being an author everything you imagined it would be? Or… have you slipped into feeling miserable?
Reasons authors lose the joy of writing
Authors may struggle with The Dream for any (or many) of the following reasons:
- They just can’t stop rewriting and editing their book in the pursuit of perfection.
- Sharing their book has proved way too scary; what if reviewers slate it?
- They’ve tried to find an agent and publisher, and ‘failed’ to do so.
- The world of self-publishing into which they’ve delved has turned out to be a complicated minefield with a steep learning curve.
- They’ve published a book traditionally and feel disappointed with sales and reviews (count or content).
- They’ve published a book independently and feel disappointed with sales and reviews (count or content).
- Marketing requires skills, knowhow, energy and funds that are sorely lacking.
- They feel huge pressure to put out another book quickly, and another, and another, even though the whole experience of writing and publishing has long since ceased being fun.
I’ve been working with authors since 2005, and in that time I’ve known plenty who’ve become disappointed, perhaps even bitter, that the reality of being an author doesn’t meet their expectations. They grit their teeth and plough on, until they reach breaking point. For some, that’s after one book; for others, after five or ten. But it’s a safe bet that for those authors who are really not enjoying writing, the end will come, and it won’t be in the form of a three-book deal from Bloomsbury.
What’s the point?
Robert Frost wrote:
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
To that I would add:
No enjoyment for the writer, no enjoyment for the reader.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that writing is meant to be fabulous fun. We’re talking flesh-and-blood on the page here, not crayoning pictures of rainbow unicorns. And don’t get me started on how much work the designing, publishing and marketing stages can be; really, does any author enjoy reading a review?
But overall, being an author needs to feed you inside, drive you, define you. Otherwise, what’s the point of all your effort? You may as well just walk away from your laptop and do something that makes you happy.
But what if you don’t want to walk away? What if you really, really want to be an author – for life – but you’ve got a bit lost? In that case, your task is simple:
Get back to writing for the sheer love of it
Not to be famous. Not to impress people. Definitely not to get rich.
Just write when you feel like it, for as long as you’re still in the flow, and then step away – no pressure, no guilt, no ‘I should’. The only success you need to think about is that you’re successfully making your own dream come true: you’re writing, and it feels amazing.
Giving yourself the freedom to write joyfully, like you did when you were a kid, is pretty difficult at first (adults don’t do joyful well). The business of being an author can get in the way.
- I’ll just check my sales figures…
- Twitter – when did I last post a tweet?
- Time to apply to BookBub again.
- I’ll just check my sales figures…
I’m reminded of Macbeth’s tale, ‘full of sound and fury/signifying nothing’. Yes, business matters, but nowhere near as much as the writing itself.
So whatever you’re doing or thinking or believing that’s making your writing dream anything less than brilliant, ditch it. Then write something you absolutely love.