Writing Life: the Reality

“Life is difficult,” wrote M. Scott Peck in his famous book The Road Less Traveled. “This … is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it… Once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

I’d like to amend Peck’s quote to say that “the writing life is difficult.” And once that truth is accepted, “the fact that it is difficult no longer matters.”

The Fantasy

I imagine we all start out on the writing journey with a fantasy of what the writing life will be like. I know I did thirty-five years ago–and it was a fantasy that I clung to tenaciously for far too many years.

My own fantasy involved uninterrupted hours every day to write (after first journaling and then doing some creative writing exercises to ensure the writing would simply “flow”.) My fantasy included the books selling themselves without my help. I expected to reach a time when I’d never have to write anything without having a (lucrative) contract in hand. I also dreamed of writing by longhand in the fragrant garden of a thatched-roof English cottage. Sad to say, the cottage part was the only thing I recognized as pure fantasy. I figured everything else was just a matter of time.

Fast forward thirty-five years and forty-seven published books later…

I love my office in Texas, but it’s a far cry from a thatched-roof cottage. And unless you write from Walden’s Pond, I don’t see how anyone manages to have uninterrupted hours every day to write. Juggling my roles as wife, mother, Nana, daughter, sister, friend, writer and ministry leader means fighting for writing time daily. Each role, at one time or another, has meant dealing with loss, conflict, disappointment, and/or illness–all big time and energy eaters. And because of the changes within the publishing industry–in large part due to the economy and online social marketing demands–there’s no such thing anymore as an author who doesn’t help market his work.

It No Longer Matters

So where’s the silver lining around this black cloud? Simply this. Clinging to my fantasy life of a writer meant that every time reality intruded, I was disappointed or shocked or disillusioned. Lots of angst and wasted energy. As long as I was convinced that the writing life could be simple and more fun than work, I was irritated with reality. I made silent demands that this imperfect writing life go away!

  • Truth #1: The writing life will always be difficult.
  • Truth #2: It doesn’t really matter.
  • Truth #3: All things worth having (family, good health, writing life) are difficult sometimes.
  • Truth #4: We can do difficult things!

Accept Reality

Don’t miss the key point of the blog today. This is not a “downer” message. It’s a truth message–which will set you free. For me, it’s like having kids. Raising a family was the most difficult, time-consuming, challenging thing I’ve done in the last thirty-five years. It has also been the most rewarding, most fun, most gratifying thing I’ve ever done. It’s the same with the writing life. It’s been difficult, but I can’t imagine a career more rewarding than this. After many years, it does get easier--but I would never say it’s easy.

It’s okay to give up the fantasy that someday your writing life will be easy and smooth and not require you to grow or struggle anymore. You really don’t need the fantasy to keep you moving forward. “The fact that it is difficult no longer matters.”

That being the case, what fantasy about the writing life do you suspect you need to let go of?

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6 Responses to Writing Life: the Reality

  1. That someday I will have “enough” time. Ha! Ok, poof–that notion is gone!

    • kwpadmin says:

      Good one, Jane! I came to grips with that one a few years ago. I listed all the hours I could write, the babysitting hours with grandkids, the things for church and community, the few things I did with friends, and asked myself, “Which shall you give up to write even more?” I cut a couple things down a bit, but for a balanced life at all, I wanted it all! But once I had CHOSEN, then I understood that my “lack of enough writing time” was a choice. People weren’t stealing it from me. I could also choose to live like a hermit if I wanted to and never see my family… Nope! :-)

  2. Joy Louters says:

    Thank you, Kristi! Your blog is encouraging and soothing to my soul!

  3. Donna says:

    This writing reality is a tough one and I question if writing is even my path in life. I am single, but recently moved in with my daughter, son-in-law and new grandbaby with a second one on the way in a two bedroom condo. My desk is set up, my laptop plugged in, and books about writing frame my desk. Yet, in a conversation with my daughter, she is worried about me and my retirement. I’m pre-retirement age, about 7 more years. I need to find full-time work, plus I have continuous back and neck health issues to deal with on a daily basis. It isn’t getting easier, I’m overwhelmed and directionless at times. I know I have to deal with my health and I do need a consistent income, that’s a reality. Writing seems to be a distant dream, an illusion. Any advise would be appreciated, thanks Kristi.
    Donna

    • kwpadmin says:

      Donna, I feel for your challenges right now. I have the headache/neck issues, and probably like you, have had for years. It does making writing harder, yet on the other hand the writing life is a flexible one. I used to do a good deal of my writing in the night when I couldn’t sleep, and I knew a regular 9-to-5 job wouldn’t allow that. If I were living with grandkids, I would have a hard time leaving them alone and writing. Even when my kids were little, I only wrote during their nap times or after they went to bed at night. I don’t know if it helps you to know this or not, but you’re not alone. Nearly everyone who writes is also dealing with health or money or relationship or procrastination issues. (Dealing with them is where my two writing books and this blog came from.) There is a lot of good free writing help online, and I hope you’ll take advantage of it. And read, read, read in the areas you want to be published in. I also taught for 27 years. Many of us have had to have full-time employment to support us while we got established as full-time writers alone. You can do it too. :-)

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