It happens to the best of us. You hit a slump. A bump in the road. A huge well of despair. You wonder if there's even any point trying to break into publishing. And I don't blame you. This is one hell of an industry and it is not for the faint of heart. You need to be pretty much a steel clad warrior in order to survive (okay, maybe not, but it sure does feel like it sometimes!).
This is when we ask ourselves the brutal question: "Should I give up writing?"
Now, I'm not going to condescend to you with a big cheery "oh no, you shouldn't". Because, to be quite frank, there are some cases that mean you should give up writing...or at least take a break. We tend to troop on despite the damage to ourselves and think asking whether we should write or not in an objective way is tantamount to defeat - mutiny against all other hopeful writers out there.
But it really isn't. And here's when I think you might need to take some time away:
1) Your mental health is suffering. If you think of writing and all you get is a whole lot of anxiety and stress, then perhaps you need a break. Perhaps it's not for you. Only you can know the answer. But be honest with yourself. Is it worth it? We all have moments of stress and despair, but if it's a lot more stress than it is enjoyment, then you have some soul searching to do.
2) You don't enjoy it. Quite simply, people write and don't actually like the process or what they end up with. Too many people say "I hate my book". You have to learn to love it. And you have to love parts of the process (note, I didn't say all of the process). For example, first drafts aren't really my favorite part, but editing...sign me up with a glitter stick, honey! If you don't enjoy any of the process or the book you finish with...consider whether you really want to do it or you're just trying to be published so you can call yourself a writer.
3) If it is badly affecting your everyday life. Now, I don't mean it's a bit of a nuisance and you have to shuffle things around. I mean if you're badly affecting your job (your only income), you're causing marital rifts through not being there for your family, your health is suffering, etc, etc. This may be cause to take a break until you are back on an even keel. Self care is SO important.
I know so many of you are troopers. You are determined, ambitious, positive, boots on ground survivors who will do anything to get your book onto the shelves. And I'm not trying to convince anyone to stop writing. Certainly not. All I'm saying is be careful with how you balance writing with your life. Writing shouldn't be your life. It should be a part of your life.
Again, let's say this one more time: SELF CARE IS IMPORTANT.
Friday, 11 November 2016
Should you give up writing?
Fiona McLaren is a displaced Scot living on the sunny island of Cyprus. She's an author, scriptwriter, and editor. She works alongside Cornerstones Literary Consultancy U.S., and also takes on freelance editorial work. The most important things in her life are her boys, her family, and her partner...and lots and lots of books! She's represented by the wonderful literary agent Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon Associates.