My writing has easily paid my bills since 2008, yet I still struggle with my identity as a writer. Here’s my struggle – plus 10 reasons I feel like I’m not succeeding as a writer. Methinks they might apply to you, too.
If you’re paying your bills – but not by writing – read The Productive Writer: Tips & Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less & Create Success by Sage Cohen.
Here’s a bit of writing advice from the sage Sage, from an interview on Writer’s Digest website:
“Welcome what comes. The poems choosing you are the ones that need to be written. Don’t judge them or worry if they’re ‘important’ enough. Your poems will teach you who you are as a poet and a person. Just follow the golden thread and let them write you.”
If you’re not succeeding as a writer, perhaps you’re being too judgmental of your ideas, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, or books. What do you think?
The Top 3 Reasons I Haven’t Succeeded as a Writer
The number one reason I feel like a failed writer is because I haven’t defined what it means to me to be a “successful writer.” Well, the truth is that I HAVE defined it but I haven’t achieved it. On What Does it Mean to be a REAL Writer, I share that, to me, a real writer is someone who has a traditionally published book. But this doesn’t make sense because if you have a hook, you have a book (eg, Arlene Dickinson on Dragons’ Den has written a book, but she’s not a writer). To succeed as a writer, I need to figure out what being successful means.
The other number one reason I’m not a “successful writer” is because I don’t have a routine for my blogging. When I lived on Bowen Island, BC, I had a structured schedule for my blogs. Here it is – I found it on my post about maintaining more than one blog: On Mondays, I blog for Quips & Tips for Achieving Your Goals and See Jane Soar. Tuesdays is Quips & Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility and Quips & Tips for Successful Writers. Wednesdays is Suite101 and Goals. Thursdays is Infertility and Writers. Fridays is Goals and See Jane Soar. Saturdays is The Adventurous Writer. On Sundays, I rest.
The third number one reason I’m not succeeding as a writer is because I moved off from Bowen Island to North Vancouver, BC. Freedom! I was restricted on the island, but when I came to North Vancouver I started volunteering as a Big Sister (a weekly commitment of 2 to 4 hours), got a couple of dogs (a daily commitment of 2 to 4 hours), went back to school to get my Master of Social Work (a 2 year program with a weekly commitment of 22 to 44 hours), started a book club or two (a monthly commitment of 2 to 4 hours), and so on.
Those are my top three reasons for feeling like I’m not succeeding as a writer. Really, it boils done to ONE reason: I haven’t made writing a priority.
Here are a few of the more common-to-all reasons we’re all not succeeding as writers…
7 Reasons Writers Fail
We’re lazy. Let’s face it: it’s easier to look at doggy photos (I particularly like DogShaming.com) and watch online kitten videos and watch mindless TV than write. If I’m not writing 1,000 words a day – or at least one blog post – then I am a lazy writer.
We’re unmotivated. Is lazy the same thing as unmotivated? Doesn’t matter. If you lack motivation, you’re not alone! “Having written” is much more fun than “writing.” I’ve written several blog posts to motivate writers to keep writing – in fact, I even researched and wrote an ebook to inspire writers to stay the course. We can’t succeed as writers if we lack motivation to persist despite the internal and external factors that hold us back.
We don’t approach writing as a business. This is one of the most important reasons writers don’t succeed! Many new writers seem to have this idea that writing is creative, vague, esoteric, indefinable, beautiful, airy. The truth is that good writing has structure, constructs, and rules. And, good writers are professional and businesslike. Writing about how to run a successful writing business is one of my favorite things to do – I should write about writing as a business more often. It’ll help me (and you!) succeed as a writer.
We get bored with what we’re writing. I love creating and re-creating my blogs because it gets boring to write the same old articles and offer the same old tips, day after day. Do you get bored with your blog, your novel, your article pitches? “The problem is we give up too soon because anything we do repetitively becomes boring,” writes Peter Berman in 18 Minutes.
We don’t enjoy the writing process. We don’t succeed as writers because we aren’t willing to persist even when it feels like we’re failing. We get discouraged by rejection, the success of other writers, and the thought of marketing and selling our writing. If we want to succeed as writers, we have to learn to enjoy the process of writing, of moving forward, of creating one blog post at a time.
We don’t have guts to persist. “Pretty good ideas are easy,” says Seth Godin. “The guts and persistence and talent to create, ship and stick it out are what’s hard.”
We jump from one project to another. O holy cow, I am the queen of starting blogs! The Dog Blog is my most recent. Within the past year I also created Short & Curlies, Bounce Back Babe, Counselor’s Corner, New Beginnings, and Really Good Ideas. This is another one of the biggest reasons I’m not succeeding as a writer: I keep bouncing from one thing to another. I am not sticking to anything – not even freelance writing. Good thing alive magazine sends me several assignments a year, else I’d never see my name in print.
What have I missed? I know there are other reasons writers don’t succeed…what are yours?