It is a very rough time in my writing life right now. I am doing a lot of work. A lot of it isn’t landing. Pieces I spend hours working on aren’t getting viewed. This only makes me work harder, which hasn’t changed a thing, forcing me to question whether I should even bother continuing.
It’s not just Novelty Revisions that has left me in a state of chaotic turmoil lately, but it’s certainly a contributor. Which is a real shame, because I love what I do here and my only hope is that other people will too.
I put hours of work into this blog, and have for over 10 years, and have done so almost daily for over four. So I think it’s completely acceptable and normal to feel discouraged and upset knowing I basically have nothing whatsoever to show for it.
Except that’s not totally true, is it? After all, I haven’t given up yet, and I don’t believe I plan on doing so anytime soon. The reality, however, is that I have learned a lot about this niche over the past decade, and about writing and writers in general. And if it all has taught me anything, it’s that most of your writing life is going to be spent working very hard for very little gain. But this is the way. This is how things are, and how they always will be.
So how does a writer continue writing knowing this is the case? I’ll tell you how I do it, if that counts.
I just keep writing. Every morning, every afternoon, every night. I just keep doing it. That’s how.
I remind myself that I write because it is a vital part of who I am and why I exist. Not because I need praise, not because I want to prove everyone wrong when it becomes my “real career” but because I love to write, I am good at it most of the time, and the only reason anyone should ever write is because it fills them with life.
Just because you love something, though, does not mean it is easy. In fact, most of the time, writing is not easy at all. Quite the opposite.
I’ll be completely honest with you. There are days — today, for example — where this absolutely infuriates me. Not because I’m in this for the recognition or the money. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have a blog about writing, because pretty much everyone does, and it’s rare you get either of those things just by talking about how people can help themselves “do writing better.”
What frustrates me is constantly having to question whether or not what I am doing is worth the time and energy it takes to get it done. For one thing, I don’t think people understand how much effort I put into this project. This is not something I just do on the side when I don’t have a million other projects in the works. I consider this a part-time job, despite the fact that I do it for free.
I don’t expect a thank you, I don’t really want anything from anyone who happens to read what I write here other than for someone to tell me when they do or don’t find something helpful. I am getting really, really tired of watching posts completely bomb and not having a single clue as to what went wrong.
Maybe that is partially my fault. I’m doing this all myself, and haven’t had the time or energy to even look at your comments in months. Do I feel guilty about this? Every single day. I wake up in the middle of the night feeling guilty about it. I feel like I’m doing a bad job, and that affects my work, and less than stellar work makes people not want to read. That, at least, I get.
But I just can’t keep doing this if all people want is for me to say the same three things over and over again. I don’t know what else to do at this point. There is just too much to read out there, too many people with things they want to say, and honestly? I forget how small and insignificant I am. I forget that people don’t have to care about my words simply because they exist.
Maybe that says a lot about me as a person, and not in a good way. I’m past the point of caring. It’s nearly impossible to explain that I don’t want people to tell me I am doing a good job. I appreciate your kind words, I really do, and please, continue leaving them whenever you see fit.
I think what I crave is to see some kind of result, to hit some kind of milestone — and I haven’t even set one. Well, that’s technically not true. I set a goal to reach a certain amount of followers by 2020, a number I am not going to hit (why? I don’t know?) but also one that doesn’t even matter. The ratio of followers to readers isn’t at all impressive. Numbers don’t matter. They never have.
Again — my fault. I set a bad goal, I set myself up for this. And now the only thing I can do is force myself to work through how strongly I do not want to keep doing this. Not because I don’t enjoy it! But because what’s the point if it’s not helping anyone? If I’m not helping anyone then I’m not doing what this blog promises to do. It’s pointless.
But I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep doing this. Why? Because I have to keep believing that there is one person out there who cares. Some days that is the ONLY thing that is going to get you through your worst moments. Even if they never say a word to you, even if there is no proof, there has to be that one person who makes your hard work worth the sweat and tears and anger. There just has to be.
Find the things that get you through. Because writers don’t have it easy like so many people seem to think. You have to have at least that one thing that holds you together.
I hope with all my heart you find it. Otherwise, I can’t promise you will be able to keep your head above water. It’s hard enough, even for me.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
5 thoughts on “Writers: Find the 1 Thing That Helps You Survive”
I’m glad you haven’t given up. I enjoy every post, even if I forget to like or comment on them. I’m sorry to hear things are so rough, but I’m also glad you keep going. Still, if you feel you need to change how frequently you post just to give yourself time to rest, go for it. You’ve posted about writing breaks and how they really do help, so if you even need a blogging break, I definitely understand. Self care is just as important as anything else.
I am very glad you have not given up! I enjoy what you write. It is inspiring! And it is honest! I share selected pieces of your writing among my family members who have an interest in writing. My wife even shares some of your work with my youngest daughters (a nine and a ten year old) as part of their school work, because they love to write. In fact, I would love to see you organize your work about writing into a book, even before you publish that novel you are dreaming about (which you write about in your next blog). As long as you chose to write and publish your blog, you will have me and my family as followers of your work, though we do not read EVERYTHING you write and comment very infrequently on what we read. Your work IS resonating with me/us!
I agree with all of the above. Do I read every post from Novelty Revisions? No. I’ll admit I don’t read every one, but I read quite a few of them and I love doing so. Meg, you hit on so many salient points for writers.
I get up every morning at 4:00 a.m. to write. When I tell this to my relatives they gasp and stare at me in horror. “You do what? You’ve got to be kidding?” So far most of my explanations have fallen on deaf ears. They can’t understand it the way someone, such as yourself, another writer, can understand it. I absolutely look forward to getting up early and writing. As I’ve recently posted I’ve finished my first novel, and I’m still having those moments of complete and total doubt. What am I doing? This is absurd–it’s a waste. But then I manage to get back on track. Reading posts such as yours help me to a great extent to understand myself as a writer, one who wants to communicate a story, a narrative that hopefully will make sense to someone else out there in this huge crazy world.
We just love to write. I’m working on my second novel and I enjoy it so much. Reading blog posts such as yours helps me a great deal to keep that mental balance. As a matter of fact, I was thinking of this blog a few days ago. I am amazed at your output. It is astounding really. I struggle to get one blog out every two weeks and I’ve just come off a six-month silence. Sigh. Oh, and I’d like to echo what Michael Grant said as well. You’re writing a book. Keep that in mind as you go.
Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
Check out this post from the Novelty Revisions Blog with the topic, Writers: Find the 1 Thing That Helps You Survive
For the record, I read all your posts, even if I almost never comment, and only share the ones that “speak to me” most. Your words matter to me, and I hope you keep writing in to next year, and beyond.