Writers live a hard life. We all might be learning similar skills and be working toward similar goals, but no one is really doing exactly what you’re doing in the long run. Every path and every writer is different. But writing is a lonely life, even if we have a community of writers around us, given that our work is our own. So when we keep working on becoming the writers we want to be, and we face challenges, how do we face them, especially if we’re on our own for what seems like most of the time?
Here are some major challenges that writers face every day, and here’s what you can do to fight back.
This is a big one, and one of the most obvious. Our biggest enemies as writers are ourselves. It can become a daily struggle, especially if you already struggle with confidence and self-esteem. You’re constantly troubled by thoughts such as “What if I’m not good enough?” or “Why isn’t my writing any good?” Even worse is when you read your own writing and cringe (which can actually be a good thing because it shows you’re improving). When you sit down in front of a blank page, it feels as if you now have to climb a mountain to overcome your own thoughts and put words to paper. Everything then piles up, and you’re left wondering if you should be writing at all, even if you do receive encouragement from other people.
How do you fight self-doubt? Take a look at how far you’ve come in the first place. Every writer starts somewhere, and as you improve with your writing, you can look back on your progress and remind yourself that you’re heading in the right direction. It might be difficult when you see other writers take great strides when it feels like you’re not making any progress, but those thoughts that you aren’t good enough aren’t true. You’re not a failure as a writer. You’re just following your path and, above all, you’re a work in progress.
This is another common challenge writers face, one that you might hear about a lot. Rejection might be a natural thing, but it’s easy to get into the mindset that you were rejected because your work wasn’t good enough. Trying again takes a whole other level of strength since we’re, above all, fighting against ourselves. It can be hard to shake off the feeling that you’re not good enough if it feels like you’re being beaten constantly. And with one rejection after the other, it’s hard not to see your writing (and yourself) as a failure, and the temptation to quit can become strong.
How do you fight rejection? First off, remember rejection is not a failure. It’s an opportunity to get back up and try again. Also, any type of success takes patience, and success can’t just be handed to you. You have to work for it, so when you receive a rejection, take it as an opportunity to grow as a writer and learn from feedback rather than a setback. Every writer struggles, even ones who landed a major publishing deal or enjoy a writing career that’s decades long. It’s right to assume that even they were rejected at one point, so don’t feel like you’re alone when the answer is “no.” Instead keep an open mind without letting your own negative thoughts get to you.
Check out this point about why great books are rejected here.
3) Feeling Overwhelmed
You’re trying to get your work into literary journals. You’re trying to build a platform and market yourself. You’re applying to grants or jobs or fellowships. You’re submitting your manuscript to publishers, agents, or presses. It all becomes so much that writers sometimes just shut down. When it comes to writers and mental health, we’re more than tortured artists. We all need to take a break from time to time to keep ourselves together. But then the blank page, the unedited draft, everything we want to write but can’t get out of our heads, comes back, and you feel as if you have to get writing done NOW.
How do you fight feeling overwhelmed? Remember that there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back. Many of us have the mindset that we need to get into a writing habit, write every day, etc. And while it’s good to build up those habits, if it comes at the expense of your mental and physical health, then you should make some adjustments. What you’ve written, even a blank page, isn’t going anywhere. Sometimes our best writing comes when we’ve taken the time to relax and let the writing come to us. Writers can, after all, find inspiration from anything.
4) We’re Introverts…
Writers need community just as much as the next person. When in the writing stages, it’s good to have someone or a group to bounce ideas off of, get feedback on your work, or even just talk. When in the marketing stages, writers need to get used to talking with other writers and professionals, as well as building their platform or taking to social media. For some, however, communicating can be a daunting task. We’re used to working for ourselves, and learning how to network can become a daunting task.
How do you find the courage to network? Remember two things. One is that, when you start networking, the worst someone can say is no when you ask for a favor. Two is that other writers are in the same boat as you, so you all have something in common. Other writers will be happy and honored to share their advice with you, and others should be glad to learn from you. While it’s difficult to come out of your shell, if you evaluate how much you enjoy being a writer and how much you want to improve your writing and get your work out there, that desire should be greater than your fear. And as writers, we all have to do scary things from time to time. In the end, we’re all going on the same journey together, even if they are on different paths.
Want to know more? My portfolio is now COMPLETE, and you can find it here! You’ll also find some helpful links to my work in journals in the Original Writing page. You can find me in Ariel Chart, The Cedarville Review, Nailpolish Stories, Bluepepper, 50 Word Stories, The Aurora Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, The Drabble, Anti-heroin Chic, Art of Autism, Your Daily Poem, Sanctuary Magazine, Six Sentences, and Sledgehammer Lit. You can now also find my FREE microchap at Origami Poems Project, which I am also offering here.