A steaming cup of coffee sits within arm’s reach, and her calico cat sleeps on her lap.
She languidly types on, the story flowing from her mind onto the screen. She smiles to herself.
Her masterpiece is almost complete, and she cannot wait for the world to see it.
The Writer’s Life of Luxurious Ease—Yeah, Right!
To many, the writer’s life is exemplified by the scene above. It’s a life of luxurious ease, of flowing creativity, and of fame.
As a new writer, I can say with certainty there are wonderful moments and perks to being an author. To see your words in print, to hear others talk about your characters, to realize the immortality of your ideas—these are the things dreams are made of.
However, writing is also accompanied by myriad challenges, frustrations, and difficulties. Wellness and writing don’t always seem to go hand in hand. Over the past year, entering the publishing world has taught me many things about emotional well being and physical well being, and how they contribute to a more sound, successful writing career.
Balancing Two Careers—A Recipe for Waistline Disaster
Weight gain—two words that can make any woman cringe. However, the sedentary lifestyle accompanying the writer’s life can easily contribute to this harsh reality.
As a full-time English teacher and part-time writer, it is excruciatingly difficult to balance both careers while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
During the editing process especially, I’ve found myself coming home from my day job only to spend the entire evening on my couch working on my laptop.
During these times, exercising goes out the window.
Couple that with exhaustion and a desire to consume chocolate to alleviate stress, and you’ve got a recipe for a waistline disaster.
A Writer’s Work is Never Done
During my busy writing months, I tell myself it’s okay to slack on my exercising. I tell myself I’ll work extra hard once the stage of the publishing process is complete.
The problem, however, is a writer’s work is never done.
Most people think the actual writing of the book is the hard part. However, the process from contract to post-publication consumes more of my time and energy than the first draft.
Even after a book is released, marketing and promotion necessitate hours on social media. Thus, my life is a constant battle of trying to balance both of my careers and my physical well being.
The battle rages on; it’s one I’m not sure I’ll ever overcome with ease. I simply try my best to stay fit, to stay active, and to eat healthy when I can. Even if things are hectic, I try to take twenty minutes to walk my mastiff Henry or to just get up and get out of the house.
When I can’t, I remind myself it’s okay because I’m juggling a lot.
Struggling to Find Your Place in a Sea of Writers
The mental and emotional demands of the writer’s life are the most challenging to overcome. As a new author, I’ve struggled with rejection and self-doubt. I’ve struggled with the “what ifs” every writer faces:
- What if no one ever reads my work?
- What if no one likes my work?
- What if I can’t do this?
I’ve had more rejections than acceptances. I’ve struggled to find my voice, my place in a sea of writers.
Even after the contract is signed and your published book becomes a reality, there’s the “nobody” syndrome authors face—it’s hard to get your work out there as a new author, and it’s easy to feel like a nobody in a crowd of famous authors.
I’ve watched my sales plummet, I’ve felt like the dream of being an author was an illusion.
Nonetheless, I keep writing. I keep writing partially because I can’t imagine doing anything else. These characters come into my mind and they haunt me. They beg for their stories to be told. Even when I feel like no one will read their stories, I feel like I can’t stop writing them.
Thus, I write to tell the stories swirling in my mind. I write to tell the stories women can relate to. I write to tell about real life, not the sugar-coated, glossy view so many cling to.
I write to expose the realities, no matter how harsh, of love and everyday living.
The Time I Thought I Was Done with Writing
There was a time, however, when I thought I was done with writing.
The most difficult moment in my career to date came before it even started. After drafting my first novel, Voice of Innocence, I thought being a published author was a pipe dream.
After months of querying, though, a publisher accepted the manuscript to my sheer shock and exuberance. Right before editing began with this company, however, the publisher went bankrupt.
I was devastated. My dream was destroyed with one harsh word.
My husband came home to find me in tears. I vowed I was finished. Who was I kidding? I could never be a published author. This was a sign.
He, however, didn’t think so. He told me to keep trying. He told me to keep querying. So I did.
I found the publisher, Melange Books, who would publish Voice of Innocence and, thus, bring my dream to life in February of 2015.
Writing is an Emotional Roller Coaster
Writing is an emotional roller coaster. There are moments of tears, of giving up, of wanting to throw away your manuscript. Then, just when you’ve given up hope, there are moments of sheer ecstasy.
There are the moments when you hear strangers talking about your characters. There are reviews where readers talk about the impact your writing had on them. There are moments when someone in another country asks to read your book. There are all sorts of magical moments that remind you why you kept the dream alive.
Family Support is a Writer’s Gold Mine
As I prepare for the release of my second novel, Without You, on December 1st through Limitless Publishing, I’m able to appreciate the journey. There have been hard moments, impossible moments. There have been moments of stress and moments of doubt. Through it all, though, the one thing that has kept me going is my family.
Family support is a writer’s gold mine. It can be the difference between being a writer and writing yourself off. Whenever I’m feeling like a “nobody author” or feeling the “what ifs” creeping in, my husband is there to remind me of my successes so far. My parents are there to tell me they believe in me.
I’ve learned through it all that a support system is the best defense you can have against the physical and mental challenges of the writer’s life. Surround yourself with people who will celebrate your victories and boost you up during your downfalls. Surround yourself with people who will remind you why you are a writer.
If You Have a Writer’s Heart, It Will All Be Worth It
As a high school English teacher, I work with students who dream of being writers.
I tell them to go for it.
There will be hardships and tears. There may be a few gained pounds and a few moments where you lose your motivation.
However, if you truly have a writer’s heart, if you truly feel a passion for words, it’ll all be worth it. To see ideas and characters you invented in your mind come to life in the minds of others it the most magical gift in life.
The biggest piece of advice I have for those looking to live the writer’s life is perhaps best summed up by a quote from Thoreau’s Walden:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”
* * *
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and a contemporary romance author. Her first novel, Voice of Innocence, was published in February of 2015. Her second novel, a new adult contemporary romance, is set to release on December 1, 2015, by Limitless Publishing. She currently lives in her hometown with her junior high sweetheart Chad, their five cats, and their mastiff named Henry.
Without You: On the surface, Jenna Landsen has it all… She’s smart, beautiful, confident, and married to Camden Landsen, who happens to be drop dead sexy and just as successful. But after five long years, all the success in the world hasn’t brought the romantic spark back into her marriage.
Violet Streiff fell in love with Liam Coffman, a charming finance major. When he left her heartbroken to further his career, Violet drowned her sorrows by opening a bakery, and now relies on Bob, her eighteen-pound cat, for warmth at night.
When Jenna’s job offers an extended trip to New York, she packs her bags and takes a two-month vacation from life. The chance of her marriage surviving looks grim, until the surprise of a lifetime throws a wrench in her plans to stay in the Big Apple for good.
When Violet meets a gloomy but totally drool-worthy guy named Camden in her shop, she’s sure her luck has changed, but he’s married, and that’s a major problem. Still, staying away from Camden proves nearly impossible. That is, until his wife comes home. Available at Amazon.
When Corbin is convicted of a murder he didn’t commit and faces years in prison, though, their love is severed. Decades later, Corbin is finally proven innocent and both are haunted by a relationship neither has forgotten.
Lives irrevocably altered and time passed, Emma and Corbin must face a difficult decision: should they settle for the separate lives that have become their reality, or can they take the risk that the passion of a first love doesn’t fade with time? Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.