I am a full time writer. Besides writing inspirational fiction, I write magazine articles and encyclopedia entries too. Many friends and acquaintances imagine me spending my days at the computer, dreamily staring out the window, waiting for the Muse to inspire my next scene or chapter. When I tell them that the writing life can be a stressful one, they don’t believe me. Truthfully, full-time writers fight many job-related battles. Here are a few:
1. We must combat carpal tunnel syndrome and other writing-related health risks. I have invested in a wrist pad, a posture chair and a good desk lamp. I get up every thirty minutes to stretch and breathe deeply. I drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day and consume vitamin B6 (which is found in chicken, beef, wheat germ, fish, sunflower seeds, peas, spinach and eggs) to keep my tendons “lubricated.”
2. Like most writers, I suffer from rejection letter blues. It’s easy to wallow in self-pity, but I can’t do so or it will hamper my productivity. I have established a battle plan for combating the blues. Usually, I meet another writer for lunch and we commiserate with one another. Sometimes I explore new markets for my manuscript.
3. I struggle to resist the TV temptation. This is a distracting time waster for most writers working at home and I do not turn it on while I am writing. I listen to music instead.
4. I have to keep accurate and up-to date records for tax purposes. Every time I buy a padded mailer to mail an autographed copy of one of my books to a librarian or raffle winner, I must record the expenses. If I don’t, I’ll end up losing track of how much I’ve actually spent and may lose out when tax time rolls around.
5. I must meet strict deadlines. I write them down in an appointment book and strive always to turn everything in a day or two early. Nothing wins the heart of a harried editor more quickly than a prompt and reliable writer.
6. I strive not to resent revision. Some editors are very picky and have asked me to rewrite scenes, chapters or articles multiple times. I am learning to enjoy polishing my prose. This is an activity, which separates the published from the unpublished.
7. I struggle with isolationism. Writing is a solitary task. If I go too many days without getting together with girlfriends or enjoying time with my grandchildren, I feel restless and disconnected from “real life.” I also have a writing buddy that I meet with once a week to discuss our work-in-progress. She is a great source of inspiration to me and I look forward to our time together.
Someone once said that, “None but an author knows an author’s cares or Fancy’s fondness for the child she bears.” If you’re a writer too, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
For those of you who are readers and not writers, keep Stephen King’s words in mind: “Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is enough.”
What can you do to encourage a writer today?