Here we conclude our look at the main challenges writers face and what you can do to help yourself deal with them. This list is extracted from Living the Writer’s Life by Eric Maisel, and it isn’t exhaustive. You won’t experience all of these and you may have other challenges that aren’t on the list. I’ve broken it down into several chunks for easy reading – in this final part: letters S to W!
Self-censorship: Let the truth out. You’ll feel less embarrassed and less ashamed than you fear. Enrich your writing with the truth: speaking the truth ennobles you and helps your readers heal and grow.
Self-deception: Print these words of Anatole France’s in big, blue letters on cardboard and mount them over your mantel: “It is in the ability to deceive oneself that the greatest talent is shown.” Is there a particular truth you need to admit? Go ahead and admit it.
Self-destruction: Stop the drugs. Stop the fifths of vodka in the freezer. Stop the self-hatred. Stop the carelessness, which loses friends and makes enemies. Stop! Build rather than destroy.
Solitude: Problems of all sorts prevent us from obtaining the blessings of solitude. If solitude is eluding you, find an empty room right now, put on your moulded ear plugs, and do not leave the room for two or three hours. Launch into some fantastic writing.
Space: Who invades your space? Just say, “I’ll be available after lunch,” and shut the door. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it; if they won’t listen, ask yourself, “Why won’t they allow me a few hours of quiet?” Is quiet not permitted in your house? Gather the family together and have a discussion about the sanctity of silence.
Stamina: Good writing and successful publishing may be more victories of stamina than anything else. Get physically fit. Get emotionally fit. What if it takes years to write beautifully or to sell anything? Get and stay as fit as possible.
Suffering: When you grieve about your failed writing, your lack of success, or your disarrayed life, the pain is all too real. It sears and burns. If there is any antidote, it must be happiness. Can you add even a little happiness to your life? Please think that you can.
Survival: Survival requires luck. Make your own. Write lots; write well; meet marketplace players; learn the game. Nothing beats luck! – your survival depends on making some for yourself.
Time: When we pay no attention to our writing, time speeds by and years slip away. But in the time it takes to watch a bad movie we could write eight pages of our book. So years are too short, if we aren’t writing; but hours are very long, if we are.
Unfairness: An evolutionary biologist chuckles at the word ‘unfair’ as it applies to individuals and species. But if he lost his family in a car wreck he’d take that personally and maybe even die of a broken heart. If you never have a bestseller, there will be tears to shed. So shed them; and, if you’re able, still keep writing.
Work: Writing is real work. Let go of the hope that writing can be easy or that selling can be easy. Let go of the hope that you can avoid criticism and rejection. You may have some easy writing and selling days, but don’t count on them.
World: The world is as it is. The world wants what it wants. Fight the world: that’s the ethical path. Don’t fight the world: that’s the path to success. Fight and don’t fight the world simultaneously. Imagine that there’s an answer to this riddle and that you’re the one to find it.
“It is never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot
Read the whole list here