By Alissa Johnson
As a writing coach, I've seen the heartbreak of writing up close.
I know. We don't talk about that part of the process very often, but here's what it can look like:
- You share your manuscript with a friend and they return it, saying they couldn't get past the first three chapters and failing to offer any helpful advice
- Your award-winning manuscript gets rejected by agents
- You feel like you've been writing forever, and you STILL haven't finished your book or landed an assignment
In each of these situations, writers feel like they've somehow failed. Or their writing has somehow failed them. I've felt this way, and I've talked to sooo many writers who feel this way.
Here's how I keep disappointment in perspective: I remember that just like life, writing has ups and downs. They're part of the process, not a reflection of me or my talent.
I also find it helpful to remember that, just like there's a life cycle for every piece of writing, there's a Life Cycle of a Writer:
- You decide you like to write so you show up at the page. It's fun to just see what happens.
- You realize you'd like to do more with your writing and develop goals and dreams.
- You then realize there's a bit of a gap between where you are right now and where you want to be. You concentrate on growing your skills and knowledge so you can write what you want to write.
- You get input on your writing, and that input (though not always easy to hear) helps you grow.
- Ready to publish, you start submitting or querying depending on your genre. You develop a close and personal relationship with rejection! (As I've read, J.K. Rowling 12 times, Dr. Seuss' first book 27 times and Gone with the Wind 38 times.)
- You persevere, figuring out if you need to improve the quality of your writing further, and eventually find your audience. You might decide to self-publish or someone else might ask to publish you, but this is a phase with a high risk of "drop out."
- You decide to try something new and start the process all over again.
Now, yes, this is a generalization. And no, it's not always a linear process. But whenever I share this cycle with writers, I can see and hear them relax. There's nothing wrong with them. It's simply the process.
Yes, it requires work and perseverance, but those are two things they know how to do.
If you've been feeling frustrated with your writing, consider where you are in your life cycle. You can even freewrite about it, journaling about your reactions to what I've shared and where you think you might be in the cycle.
Let us know what you discover in the comments or over on the Facebook page. We always love to hear from you, and other writers do too!