The Writer’s Box

© 2012 by Heather Palmer

Writing is hard.

Whoever thought writing is easy has never written. Writing is such a solitary venture and a personal journey sometimes I find myself lost as I sit alone again behind my desk creating the characters and worlds living inside my heart. I often wonder if this is true for other writers. Will I ever find the equilibrium between writing and family? Am I alone on this zigzag trek to publication and beyond?

I am not.

Though at times, I feel this way, as I imagine a lot of writers do. People ask me, how do you do it? How do you sit down with all that you have to do and write? There is no easy answer to this question, as I, like you have the same twenty-four hours, the same housework and grocery shopping to accomplish and family who rely on me.

My answer…

By knowing the hard work will pay off. By loving what I do (and I admit, I don’t always love writing) and building boundaries to protect my passion. I have on days and off days like everyone else. I delete more than I write on my off days. Some days I don’t even make it to the keyboard. These days happen, but you have to persist. No war is won in a day and each day is a battle so keep fighting and know you are not alone.

I sat talking with my husband the other day on this very topic and I said to him, “My writing is this box and in order for me to protect it, I have to fight every day. If I let you or anything else inside this box, I won’t do what I need to do for me or my writing.”

Treat your writing like a box.

Make boundaries for the time that you need to create and live within those boundaries for the time that you can each day. Every writer has to make their own set of rules to protect that box, so make your own and protect the time you can carve out of your day. You will write. And the more you write the closer you are to achieving your goals.

I like to set aside at least an hour for my writing. I write when I’m tired. I write when I’m sick. I write and I write and I write. But when I am in my box, I know that when I leave the box and return to all the distractions daily life is filled with, I will feel accomplished. There is nothing better than this sense of achievement.

Reward your hard work.

When you’re ready to emerge from your box (or maybe you’re being drug from your box by your hair), back into reality, give yourself the credit you deserve. You have won. Tomorrow will be another challenge, but for now have a glass of wine or the chocolate bar you were thinking about before you sat down at the computer. Open the door of your office and let the world inside, because in order to write—you must also experience life.

They say it takes twenty-one days to make a good habit, but don’t give up. Know you are not alone and know that others out there struggle with the same battle you do. The balance between life and writing is not easy to master. The weight you carry will shift from one side of the seesaw to the other and re-adjustments will be required.

But, I promise you, persistence WILL pay off. So, keep writing and build your box!

Until the next bite…Heather

Living in Almost, but Not Quite

© 2012 by Heather Palmer

 

Almost, but Not Quite is a place where every writer will find themselves at one point or another in their career. Right now, I am SO queen of this land. It’s not a fun place to be, but for now it’s where I need to be.

As writers, we have a craft to learn. There are so many facets of this craft and learning them takes time. Most days I find myself impatient, hungry, and chomping madly at the air around me trying to force something to happen in my writing career. I’ve discovered this does nothing other than make me more frustrated and discouraged with my current state.

Now, I’m not some self-pitying, wallowing kind of person. I’ve been writing since I can remember, penning my first stories with one of those fat pencils children use to learn to write with. Writing is in my blood. The essence of stories slides through my veins with every beat of my heart.

This week I didn’t final in yet another contest, but what I have learned is far more powerful than a certificate I can hang on the wall of my office. I got feedback.

And…with feedback comes rejection.

Rejection is part of being a writer and regardless of how long you’ve been honing your craft and plying your words we all must find ways to deal with rejection. For me, I give myself a short amount of time to wallow, to scream, to cry and wail at the world in general and then…I suck it up. Having tough skin in the writing world is a MUST.

Being a writer, you know everyone is not going to drop to their knees and kiss the pages of whatever awesome story you’ve churned out in a raging fit of inspiration. Writing takes work–A LOT of work. Part of our jobs is to ensure our work is ready. And for me, I know because of this recent feedback, it’s not quite ready.

Almost.

But not quite.

So, what do you do? I ask myself often…how bad do I want this? How bad can I taste a publishing contract on my tongue? Many of you will have the same answer: so bad you can feel the sharp, thin edge of the paper slicing into your flesh and drawing blood. This blood is rich with every ounce of effort you have expended into creating the best work you can offer.

But again, you could still reside in Almost.

Follow your ritual. Work through whatever you need to pick yourself up and get back into your chair and at your keyboard. Drink your wine and eat your chocolate. Hide in bed for a day. Pick up your favorite author’s book and read it again for the millionth time to solidify WHY you do what you do. Then…get back to work.

Fix what you know needs fixed. Revise like the hounds of hell are nipping at your tired feet. Now for me, I hate revision. I would rather have every hair plucked out of my scalp one strand at a time than sit down and pour through the same manuscript I have written four times.

Four times.

Today, I start round five.

You are not alone in this. Writing is a journey and we must embrace that part of us which makes us whole–the part of us that calls to our souls every waking and sleeping moment of our lives. The part we cannot and will not abandon. No matter how many times we have to polish and cleanse.

When we accomplish this…we WILL move beyond Not Quite into the land of I Have Finally Made It.

Oh, but here’s the painful part…then we start all over again.

Love what you do. Live for it, eat it, breathe it and sleep it.

And one day you will make it out into the world of being published and so will I.

 

Until the next bite…Heather