You Are Not Alone

By Sherry Peters

A few months ago my teen-aged niece decided she wanted to write a novel. Being the auntie I am, I encouraged her to explore her creativity. It didn’t take long before she asked me how to speed up the writing process. I laughed and told my niece there wasn’t one, that if I lived in the land of Harry Potter, I would invent a quill that would take the story from my mind and write it on its own while I go off and do other things. She was disappointed.

My niece had a point. I don’t know any writer who, at some point or other, hasn’t wished the words would magically appear on the page. The truth is, writing takes time. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are at it, it still takes time. And the time it takes is usually away from our family and friends.

I think that most writers who still have a day job and write wish they could write full-time so that they can spend more time with family and friends.

But books don’t write themselves. And so we decline invitations and tell our children to leave us alone, or we shorten our nights in order to make time to write. It is what we have to do, and probably, for the most part, we don’t mind doing it. We don’t always see it as a sacrifice because we’re pursuing our dreams.

There are, however, plenty of other times when we do see this isolation as a sacrifice. We worry that our kids are going to grow up and tell their therapists they became career criminals because they were abandoned by us. Our friends bluntly ask if we seriously have to write on a Sunday or ask why we can’t take a couple of hours on Saturday for them, even though we’ve told them it’s our only full day to write and any break in the day throws us off and makes it difficult to get back to writing. And families have their own expectations and demands on our time and have a unique ability to guilt-trip us into doing what they ask.

We’re strong at first, able to say no, able to close the door. But the guilt builds up and eventually we give in, setting our writing aside, to be with others. Which means it will take even longer than we’d like to write the story or novel.

Would you give in as easily if you didn’t feel so isolated? What if you had the full support of your family and friends, rather than their sabotage?

Why not join a community of writers? They can help with the technical aspects of writing such as providing feedback and sharing industry news. More importantly, they understand the work, the time, and the effort needed to be a writer. They can sympathize when the rejections or bad reviews come in, and they can celebrate your successes with you. You are not alone so join with other writers and share in the journey.

Go on, or host, writing retreats. I first experienced a retreat with a bunch of writer friends (IFWA, Imaginative Fiction Writers Association) in Calgary, AB. There were thirty of us in a room quietly typing away. We’d break for meals at a local pub and talk shop before getting back to work. I’ve been at a few similar retreats elsewhere since then, and have a few at my home every year. There is something to be said about the energy in a room where everyone is creating. Productivity skyrockets in those weekends. If ever there is a time someone is stuck on a plot issue, there is always someone there to brainstorm with.

Ask your family and friends for their support. They don’t understand how much work it is to write, and they don’t really have to. If it helps, show them the progress you’ve made, show them the finer details that go into writing, explain to them the real ins and outs of the publishing industry, not the Hollywood version. They don’t have to understand what it’s like to be a writer, but they do need to understand why writing is important to you. Tell them. Tell them why you love to write, what you get from it, and what you hope to get from it. Tell them what their support would mean to you and how it will help you succeed. Tell them what specific things might constitute that support. Is it encouraging words? Cooking dinner a few nights a week? Giving the kids their nightly bath? Ask them to support you because they love you.

Surround yourself with people who will be there for you, cheering from the front row of your book launch and commiserating with and encouraging you through the bad days. When we have that support, we don’t feel guilty when writing, which means our writing time will be productive. When we have a more productive writing time, we will be better able to focus on our family and friends when we are with them.

Who is there for you?

Sherry Peters

Sherry Peters is a Certified Life Coach who works with writers at all stages of their writing career looking to increase their productivity through pushing past the self-doubt holding them back. Sherry graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop and earned her M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her debut novel Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf placed 1st in the 2014 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards in the YA category. It has also been nominated for a 2015 Aurora Award. For more information on Sherry visit her website.

9 comments

  • Great article from Sherry Peters.

    Pamela Mann Writer in the midst of submitting to agents and publishers!

  • Some nice suggestions how a family can help/show support.
    Still friends/family don’t really understand it…but if lucky may agree to “humor” you. Finding other writers around is the best plan
    Good post

  • Reblogged this on lightningbooksbyagmoye and commented:
    Sometimes you feel alone even when your not. I am never alone for long since my wife is my biggest supporter. Who is yours?

  • I lead a group of writers, and I am a writing coach. I think it’s cool you wrote this, will share with them all online! Thanks!

  • Excellent article! I plan to share it with my editing clients and fellow writers.

  • Okay. Been through all of that – the books (3 in a series) are all ready to go… where?

    I’m lucky to be retired and able to write away to my hearts desire, but I treated my passion like a job that took me to my desk every morning, some afternoons too. I walked each day outdoors, with my head spinning new chapters, sharpening up a character, I sent off chapters to my group of edit readers, met with them for inspiration, to get feedback, and so much more. My husband, friends and family cheering me on all the way. That wasn’t the hard part of this process.

    I now find the greatest challenge is trying to become exposed, known, reviewed, sought after? Bought? Without having to put too much money into the process. I’ve sold so few paperbacks, and fewer yet ebooks on amazon, Kobo, Goodreads, etc. and find the only attention I receive is if I go free for several days. I know – I am at the bottom of the slush pile with my very few 5 star ratings, and I need to climb back up and out.
    How do I get aggressive ( without spending a huge amount of money)?

    Lindsy Boyd Dickenson
    Author of Love In Fortune Valley, Return to Fortune Valley, Sunsets in Fortune Valley

    • Hi Lindsy, I’m hardly an expert on marketing. There are more and more avenues for us. Social media is a big one. By raising hype about the books before you release them. If all three are ready to go, and you haven’t released them yet, consider releasing them about a month or two apart. Freebies on your website to get readers to sign up to your mailling list. These are either the first few chapters, or a couple of short stories in the same world. You can also try bundling the books. For example, the e-books are $5 each if bought seperately, but $10 if all three are bought as a box-set/bundle. Put a call to action at the back of each book, asking readers to review, to sign up to your mailing list, and letting them know what you’re working on or will release next. There are also a number of writing forums that can help with this too. Kboards and Agent Query Connect are good ones. I also highly recommend the book “Write, Publish, Repeat.” They have great advice.

      Hope that helps!

      Sherry Peters

      • Thanks for your reply and advice… I tried out the Discovery Books this past Fri. and had a few bites. Another question? do you do reviews on books? I need to build up my reviews. Thanks, Lindsy

      • Hi Lindsy, I don’t do reviews myself. Reviews are difficult to get. There are a lot of book bloggers out there who will do reviews, but look at what they review first, and also at what their following is to make sure you want to ask them to review your book. Many bloggers are overwhelmed with requests, but you can’t get one if you don’t ask. Ask your readers to leave reviews for your books on Amazon and Goodreads. I have that as a call to action at the back of my books. Other authors let their readers know that in return for a review (an honest review) they will be entered to win the next book in the series. Goodreads giveaways can garner some reviews, so can NetGalley if you can get a spot on there, but those reviews may or may not be made public. Something else I’ve seen, but I don’t think I will recommend, are companies advertising that for a fee they will review your book. I don’t trust the credibility of these kinds of reviews, so beware of those.

        I hope htat helps!

        Cheers!

        Sherry Peters

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