You may be a writer if…
… you’ve experienced one, any, or all of these issues:
Feeling bleh when you’ve got a deadline approaching
Can’t think of anything to write
Feeling overwhelmed with all the writing projects
Have written, and gotten terrible reviews
Have written, and gotten success and wonder if it’s all a weird twist of fate
Feeling jealous of your writer friends and colleagues who have succeeded and are doing all the things
You tell people you’re a writer and they demand to know how much money you’ve made, where you’ve been published, is it on audiobook?
You tell people you’re a writer and they are dismissive, and say anything could do that, or that they could write a novel, they just don’t have the time…
First of all, know that if you have or are experiencing any of the issues mentioned above, it’s okay. And if you’re just starting out in your writing career and you haven’t yet, get ready. It’s something to look forward to (maybe).
I could talk about how important it is to take breaks as a writer. And this is valuable, but what I like more are treats. Whenever I have a success in my writing, I take my partner out for tea and cake. It’s a win, and that brings me to my first point: celebrate the wins.
Celebrate the wins
You’ve gotten a short story accepted, a novel returned for a revise and resubmit, or a full request. You might have gotten the book deal, an agent, or a publisher signing you on board. No matter what it is, you’ve succeeded in your writing career, and that’s worth celebrating. Go out and have fun, whether it’s treating yourself to a cupcake, seeing a film, or reading a new favourite book. You did it. You are a writer and you’ve got the proof. No one can take that away from you.
Don’t be afraid to talk about it
With my recent novella, I got a mix of positive reviews, average, and then the dreaded 1-2 star reviews on the launch day of the book. It happens, and it’s horrible, and it will have you questioning yourself and your ability as a writer. In the words of Taylor Swift, shake it off.
Other writers you know will be going through the same thing or have experienced it in the past. Reach out to them with your worries and concerns. Ask them for a pep talk. Share exactly what you’re concerned about. They might respond with emojis and mental hugs, but you’re not alone.
It’s not a fluke, you are that good
Also known as imposter syndrome, I had my first taste of it the other day. My publisher released a novella of mine in their series, and each day that passed it earned around 20 new ratings on Amazon, beating my other novels that had taken months to amass that many. I was like… what? Is this a fluke? A weird twist of fate?
While I think this experience of mine was a fluke, the lesson here is that overall, you are good enough. You are worthy of the success you’ve earned. You are good, or you wouldn’t have gotten that achievement. It’s worth looking in the mirror and telling yourself that. You are a writer, and you are good enough. There will always be people more deserving, who are better at this than you. Take the win and the achievement where it’s due. Then write the next piece and prove it all over again.
Don’t compare yourself
I do this all the time, and I did this especially when I was first starting out writing. I knew other writers who seemed to get successful overnight, who were very blasé and even seemed arrogant about their writing. They are the unicorns, the ones with the advances, the big publishers, the TV deals. Be happy for them and keep writing. You will become successful if you keep at it. But if you let yourself be mentally defeated by comparing yourself to others and thinking you’ll never measure up, it’s a downward spiral. Stay away from it if you can and keep writing.
It's all right to feel bleh
Do you have a writing deadline looming? Do you know you’re procrastinating too much but can’t seem to stop or have writer’s block? Can you not think of anything to write? It’s okay. Stop and take a breather. Watch a bit of TV, read a book, or tune in to the latest true crime podcast. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the pressure, even if it’s self-induced. If you need a mental break from things, take one. Take a well-being day from writing where you do anything but write.
Writing’s easy, right?
This is the dreaded encounter during summer barbecues, cocktails, and dinner parties where someone will hear you’re a writer, and they’ll corner you or try to show a polite amount of interest, and say they always wanted to write a novel but never had the time… as if what you do is akin to a dilettante, dabbling in hobbies and little pastimes of no consequence.
Ignore them. Smile, nod, and move on.
Everyone thinks writing is easy until they try it. I think it’s even easier to think you could do it if only you had the time. Well, you do. But you’ll only get successful if you actually try. See if you can carve out some writing time, or if you can’t, try carving a pumpkin this Halloween instead. You might get a story idea.
About the Author: E. L. Johnson writes historical mysteries. A Boston native, she gave up clam chowder and lobster rolls for tea and scones when she moved across the pond to London, where she studied medieval magic at UCL and medieval remedies at Birkbeck College. Now based in Hertfordshire, she is a member of the Hertford Writers’ Circle and the founder of the London Seasonal Book Club.
When not writing, Erin spends her days working as a press officer for a royal charity and her evenings as the lead singer of the gothic progressive metal band, Orpheum. She is also an avid Jane Austen fan and has a growing collection of period drama films.