How To Face Down Your Spookiest Writing Fears — Áine Greaney
Vampires? Witches? Ghouls? Politicians? Yes, they’re Halloween scary (maybe), but on our worst writing days, they’ve got nothing on our spookiest writer moments. Right?
Here are the three aspects of the writing life that can send us screeching and cowering under our bed covers. I’m also including some suggested fixes.
1. How to Overcome Writers Block (Eeek! The Blank Screen!)
You wake up with this idea that’s so clever that you skip breakfast and grab a quick coffee on your way to your writing desk. Then you type furiously while visions of that Pulitzer dance in your head. You stop. You re-read. You want to puke. You delete it all and now you’re plain stumped for what — if anything — to write.
Or you’re under a big, hairy deadline, but then, 12 hours before submission time, your brain circuits all fizzle and blow. Now you can’t speak, let alone write. Oh. Hell.
How to fix writers block: Get outside and take a walk or a run. Don’t worry. The writer’s pity party will still be in full swing when you return. When you get back, pick up your hand-writing journal to tease out what’s stalling you in this project. Or, if you’re not under deadline, take a break from this freakish project to work on a different one-preferably in a different genre.
2. What to Do With That Rejection Letter
You drafted, re-drafted, edited, polished (and polished). Then, you submitted that short story or essay to that well researched and apparently perfect market. You followed their submission guidelines. Your piece is within the required word count. And now, here in your email in-box is one of those, “This-didn’t-work-for-us” notes.
How to react to writers rejection: First, exorcise (as in, “cast out thy demons”) all self-blame or -flagellation. If you truly worked hard on your submitted piece, then remember that all writing and reading is subjective. I mean, how many New York Times bestsellers have you read that you honestly, truly loved (in my case, not many)? Also: This rejection may have little or nothing to do with the quality of this piece. It’s certainly not an indictment of you as a writer. Or as a person. If the editor was kind enough to offer suggestions, use them to create a better draft.
The best cure for writer’s rejection? Review your piece, fix any boo-boos and, within 24 hours, submit it to a new and more selective market.
3. When Are You Too Old to Write That Book or Essay or Memoir?
Next scary question, please?
No, seriously. Today’s workplaces demand more and more of us, and our 24/7, hyper-connected lifestyle doesn’t help. In or beyond the workplace, it seems like there’s always someone who needs you. Now, you’re facing down a milestone birthday and here’s that inner voice telling you that life has whizzed by, and so has your dream of being a writer.
How to combat your own writer’s ageism: First, you deserve to write. And taking time out to write does not mean that you are reneging on your work or family responsibilities or caregiving. Instead, writing means taking care of your own wellness to make you a better employee, a better parent, a better caregiver. Look at your entire week. Find some spots in there for quick, incidental writing opportunities. Insert those days and times into your appointment calendar. Early mornings? Lunch hours? Café on the way home from work? Turn off the T.V. at night. If it really matters to you, make a plan and start tomorrow.