(Merry Christmas, Happy New Year! You Are Reading A Throwback blog from 2011)
We spend a lot of time here at My Book Therapy and in the writing industry talking about craft, networking, marketing, promoting, and the general way to write a book. Panster, plotter, planster (plotter and panster combination.)
But what we don’t discuss much is the cost of giving your life to writing. Especially to writing fiction.
There’s a price tag, and while I love what I do, there are days I “feel” the price I’ve paid.
I have no co-workers. I sit in my lovely tower, which I adore, alone every single day. Sometimes the phone never rings for me. I may not get a personal email or friendly phone call for days.
My family lives out of my state. I don’t have children. My life is carved out perfectly to crank out two, maybe three books a year. But I gotta tell ya, it can get lonely.
I’m so grateful for the friends the Lord has given me. Susie Warren, Beth Vogt, Lisa Jordan and others here in the My Book Therapy community.
I can’t write a book without calling Susie several times a week. Nearer to my deadline, I might call her several times a day. I value her friendship and input! What a gift.
But practically speaking, she lives in Minnesota. I live in Florida.
One of my favorite things from days-gone-by was my corporate job relationships. We had some sure laughs and some grand lunches, and great success on the job. I loved solving a problem and celebrating with my co-workers. The day-job provided immediate feedback.
Sure, there were the tough days, the drag-my-butt-into-the-office days. And I had a very interesting boss. But overall, I enjoyed my office job.
I read about writing being a solitary life. I’m good with solitary. But friends, it is a really solitary life.
Writers have to say, “No,” to extra curricular activities. We can’t be running around town shopping, or lunching, or sadly, volunteering.
We have to shut off the TV, the radio, the internet and just “be” with our stories and characters. We must face the pain of making people that only live in our heads and hearts come to life on the page.
Good writing days are followed by hard writing days. We wrestle with our insecurities and doubt. There might be days or weeks where we hear from no one in our profession: not a reader, an editor or agent.
The only way we go forward with any confidence is by sheer discipline and will. And it’s a fight!
The other day I was driving to morning prayer at church, wrestling with my lack of close, local friendships. No don’t go feeling sorry for me, I do have friends. I do! I’m not a hermit or miser. But, the friendships I used to have at work, or when in college, are gone. At my age, many of my friends are busy with children or even grandchildren!
As I mused over this, I finally thought, “Maybe it’s not that I lack friends but I lack the right perspective.”
I’ve chosen the writer life and with it comes certain handicaps. It’s not 9-5. I’m not surrounded by people all day. To do the job, I have to retreat sometimes.
The challenge for us is to be content exactly where God has us. As I mused over my situation, I heard Jesus say, “I’m Your friend.”
I teared up. “Will you come to my house for Christmas dinner?”
See, it’s about perspective. What a true and dear friend we have in Jesus. And the friends I do have in my town, are lovely and always ready for a lunch when I can break free!
But, back to the writer’s life. Are you ready to pay the cost? I’m not the only writer who struggles with friendship time and heart-connections within the local community.
I’ve heard other writers share similar things. It’s why we’ve created the My Book Therapy Community. It’s why there are writing organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers.
Take stock of yourself. Are you too busy being a friend and doing other things to write? Even for writing moms, at some point, you have to close out the hubbub and noise of the family and write. I’m awed by my mom writing friends like Susan Warren, Cara Putman, Kristin Billerbeck and Tracey Bateman.
Are there things in your life cluttering out writing?
Count. The. Cost.
The life of a novelist will cost you precious things. But it is worth it. So very worth it.
1. Get with the Lord. Spend time with Him, praying over your schedule, asking Him to release your heart as an author.
2. Counsel with your spouse or close friends, parents or other family. Is this the time to devote to writing and say no to other things? Or will that season come later. It is RIGHT and PERFECT to wait until the “write” season.
3. Find a place that’s yours to write. Make sure no one else invades. It’s yours. Even if it’s a table at Panera or Starbucks, make it your writing spot.
4. Schedule time to be with friends and family. Be purposeful. If you do ministry at your church or volunteer in the community, keep to a schedule. Don’t pick up extra jobs just because you feel bad for someone. Do ONLY what the Lord has called YOU to do.
5. Write on the hard days. Sometimes those words are better than the ones who come on the good days. If you only have an hour to write on busy days, take it!
Writing is purposeful. So is the writer’s life. Be purposeful. Tune out the noise. Still your heart and mind.
Write, counting the cost.