Three Dominant Writing Challenges

Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to let you know that I’ve been on a sales promotion blitz for my Casey Holland mystery series. Until August 28th, all six books can be purchased for under $10 (US) The first one, The Opposite of Dark, is free and the next two are $.99 each. You can see all of the books and sale prices on one page at https://tinyurl.com/myhvfzjp These sale prices are also available on other platforms.

Now, all writers who hope to make a living from their work, or to at least supplement their income, face many challenges. For me, those challenges often boil down to three primary things: time, energy, and skill.

Those who need a day job to pay their bills, are raising kids, or caring for aging parents, are all-too familiar with the time challenge. Over the years, I’ve developed strategies, mainly by preparing for the project(s) I intend to work on that week, and minimizing internet and TV time. I’ve also carved out time by giving up exercise or housework. Not a huge sacrifice really, but there’s a price to be paid regarding exercise, which leads me to my second point. Energy.

Even those of you who’ve carved extra time for writing might discover a lack of energy for a variety of reasons. COVID hasn’t helped, especially with mental health issues, but there are other physical health challenges that I’m finding as I age. For instance, I need to nap more often because my brain becomes foggy after 2:30 p.m. Second, I’m dealing with neck and shoulder pain these days, which has flared up off and on for twenty years. Other writers are enduring health issues that drain them of creative energy or even the inclination to sit in front of the keyboard and start working. Grief, stress, loss of income and/or home, and other uncertainties all contribute, as I’m sure many of you know.

Last but not least, is skill. For newer writers, the question often is, can I do this? Will I ever be good enough to write one publishable story? Is there a better use of my time? For more experienced writers, it’s the inability to find an agent or publisher for their finished novel(s) that results in the same questions. For those who’ve been published, self doubt creeps in with lousy reviews, poor sales, or the sinking feeling that you’re not good enough to keep doing this.

I’ve dealt with all of these issues, and more, over the past four decades, and here are two things that have kept me going. First, I still love writing, editing, publishing, selling, and even some of the marketing stuff.

Second, I don’t constantly berate myself over mistakes and disappointments. At the end of every week, I conclude that I did the best I could with whatever time, energy, and skill I have. I’ve used this mantra for years and it’s helped me come to terms with things. If you think it’ll help you on your creative journey, feel free to use it. You deserve to acknowledge your challenges, and you deserve to give yourself a break. The mountain you’re climbing will always be there, you don’t need to break your back, or your spirit, over it.

Those Glitches in My Writing Career

Cartoon of Girl WritingI love my writing life. It’s given me great satisfaction over the years and a little bit of income, so I can’t complain. But there are days when things don’t go quite as smoothly as planned, especially on the domestic front.

Sometimes I’m a battle with my kitchen. I can’t tell you how many times the chili I’ve made winds up burned at the bottom of the pot because I was too engrossed in editing to remember to stir it. On occasion, I’ve forgotten to take something out of the freezer for thawing. I also tend to stick to the same ten recipes because I don’t want to take the time to search for new ones. Now that I’m on a leave of absence from the day job, I have been trying new dishes, though.

My nineteen-and-a-half-year-old cat likes to be near me when he’s not sleeping, which is a lot. Whenever I’m at the computer, he plunks himself in my lap and proceeds to drool over my hand and the keyboard. I keep a box of tissues nearby. There’s no point in yelling at him. He’s mostly deaf and lifelong habits are hard for him to break, so I gently put him down on the floor off he goes to find another place to sleep.

The cat is not the only daily interruption. I’ve always kept an open door policy for my family when writing (the kids are grown and don’t live at home anymore), but sometimes interruptions occur while I’m trying to sort out a difficult plotting problem. I’ve been known to give hubby a blank stare when he asks what’s for dinner, not because I don’t know the answer (although sometimes I don’t) but because I’m trying to pull my thoughts out of whatever scene I was working through.

My husband (an accountant) earns a lot more money from his job than I do from writing. When he does my taxes every year, I get a lot of chuckling about my “cute” bookkeeping system and an annoying amount of snickering about my income. But overall, these are minor glitches.

The larger ones include the occasional lousy book review, agents who take years to fail to sell my book, publishers who either dropped me or folded, and tiny royalty checks.

Still, these things are part of every writer’s life. You know as well as I do that every job and career choice has them. But for me, the pros outweigh the cons and glitches notwithstanding, I can’t wait to see what happens next.