Hurdles and Pitfalls Along the Writer's Path
As glamorous as the life of a romance novelist may appear, it's partially a mirage. Yes, writing remains a dream job with tons of advantages — no one will deny that — but this doesn't mean you won't discover hurdles or face difficulties along the way.
Like roses that come with thorns, the writing career comes with its own downside. What's hard to believe is those pitfalls don't disappear when you sell your first book. It is wise to be prepared for the possible challenges your chosen career path may present.
You can't measure yourself against other writers. Just because someone writes twenty pages a day, or sells their first manuscript, doesn't mean you can or ever will be able to write that fast or sell that soon. Every writer has to follow her own path to success. Instead of spending your time and energy measuring and comparing yourself to other writers, focus on what you can do to help yourself meet your own goals.
Jealousy is an ugly emotion. Yes, it's human nature to feel envy, but a full-blown case of jealousy is simply bad for the soul. In other words, it's okay to wish you could arrive at the same place as your more successful peers, but it's not okay to wish they hadn't gotten there.
Don't let the green-eyed beast eat at your sanity. Celebrate the success of others and find motivation in their accomplishments. They very well may be blazing the trail that you will soon follow.
This is when you stop reading, stop attending writers' meetings, stop learning, and stop living because you feel the only thing you must do is write the book. And yes, writing the book is the number-one goal, but when you shut yourself down in all the other areas, you are unable to be objective about your own work. Balance is always the key.
Rewrite-itis can be a severe condition that affects both published and unpublished writers. Basically, it means you are unable to ever call a book, a chapter, or even a scene finished. Behind the fancy name of rewrite-itis lies one of two fears: fear of failure or fear of success. The signs of this condition include:
Rewriting the same scene, chapter, or book more than ten times
Never finishing a book because you keep going back to polish the first chapters
Constantly having someone read your work, hoping they'll give you some revisions to do
Taking your packaged manuscript to the post office to mail to the editor or agent, only to decide the book isn't ready and then rushing home to revise again (Yes, it has happened.)
The best way to treat rewrite-itis is to set goals and deadlines and stick to them. This isn't to say you should ever send a manuscript out before it's polished, but your manuscripts are like your children. Sooner or later, you have to turn them loose on the world.
Some people love to do the research; some people loathe it. But some of the people who claim to love it are just doing it to avoid writing. True, research is crucial to all manuscripts, especially to historicals where facts and details will be scrutinized by your history-buff readers. However, every writer must be aware of research-itis and know when it's time to say, “Enough is enough.”
Even the most committed author is susceptible to this condition. Signs of the faux writer syndrome are easily recognized. You get so involved in the writing life that you suddenly realize that you're doing it all: talking writing, attending writer's meetings and workshops, volunteering for writing organizations, e-mailing writing buddies, and reading books about writing. You're doing it all. Well, all, that is, except actually writing.
Don't get so caught up in the writer's life that you forget the one thing that really makes you a writer: You write.