Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Emotional Roller Coaster of a Writer’s Life

I don’t like roller coasters. I like the predictable, steady, tried and true. Yet writing is one of the most significant emotional roller coasters you can put yourself on in life. So as writers, why do we do it? Why do we get up every morning and strap ourselves into that seat?

For me, it’s all because of the high moments. The moment where you feel like you can accomplish anything. The view from atop that roller coaster is panoramic! I had two high moments this week in the writing life: I wrote the two most important words in the English language—THE END. Another book done, and before my deadline. Feels pretty great.

Until you open that first file and re-read what is was you wrote. Suddenly the fear creeps in. It’s a feeling of utter incompetence; of asking yourself why on earth you thought you could do something so complex as writing a novel.

That is sometimes where the writing roller coaster gets stuck, in the most precarious of places. Where you want to just jump out and let it go on without you. For me, that is also were I find myself avoiding the thing I know I need to do most—get back to work. Instead, I’ll get lost in the laundry, sorting through the papers that seem to stack on the counter of their own free will, or cleaning the bathrooms—anything I can think of to avoid what makes me fearful—writing.

Most of the time, I can be fairly disciplined with my writing. Setting daily page goals, weekly benchmarks, and deadlines. But sometimes the fear is so overwhelming that it is almost a tangible thing. I know a large part of that fear is because I love my story concept and I’m afraid of executing it poorly. In my head the story is rich and meaningful, an epic! It is powerful and sweeping and emotional and makes people think about themselves and the ways they relate to one another. It changes people’s lives for the better.

So how do you overcome that fear? One sentence at a time, one page at a time. Also by realizing that the desire to write would not be inside you if you weren’t capable of the task. And most important of all, is to remember that nothing can happen if you don’t at least try.

Any creative field has its highs and lows. Maybe for writers, those highs are especially high because of all the lows. We set this same path for our characters. We give them struggles, self-doubt, and so many obstacles. And yet they, along with a little authorial help, get through it all for that ultimate reward.

So what are the highs of a writer’s life? Finishing each and every manuscript. Selling that first book, and all the others that follow. Trying something in your writing you’ve never tried before. A great review, or fabulous feedback from critique group. A note from a reader. Hitting your page count for the day. Seeing your new cover for the first time. Holding that printed book in your hands. Your first writing paycheck. Your book on Amazon’s website. And so many more other fantastic moments.

Do all those highs make the lows worthwhile? I’d like to think so.

That second high for me this week was my new cover. I think it is gorgeous and captures the essence of the book perfectly.



Share a special moment you’ve had that has taken your emotions to the top of that roller coaster.

9 comments:

Cindy Holby January 31, 2009 at 6:00 AM  

Yay Gerri on finishing the book. And also for capturing the highs and lows so well.

Unfortunately for me its been a low week. But another high is having great writer friends who understand the lows.

Gerri Russell January 31, 2009 at 2:47 PM  

Cindy,

I am so sorry about the lows . . . and yes, it is great to have other writer friends who "get it" and cna help you get back inside the roller coaster, no matter what.

Hugs to you, my dear.

Metonia January 31, 2009 at 4:16 PM  

You wrote: "So how do you overcome that fear? One sentence at a time, one page at a time. Also by realizing that the desire to write would not be inside me if I weren’t capable of the task. And most important of all, is to remember that nothing can happen if you don’t at least try."

God I am trying but I AM so scared. I recently joined facebook (7days ago) and already have over 100 friends, started Metonia's Bookclub with over 40 friends and ... those were WAY highs, then I visited RNTV and participated in the vignettes by the Romance Bandits... way low when I saw the talant posting...then started a Fanclub for C.L.Wilson on facebook High again. Sorry so long.

Metonia January 31, 2009 at 4:19 PM  

lol sorry being addicted to the computer doesn't help either... way low when I should be doing other things like trying to finish my first book. Even just saying that is scarry

Gerri Russell January 31, 2009 at 5:48 PM  

Metonia,

Thanks for coming to visit! We're so happy to have you here.

How brave you were to post with the Banditas. They are a talented lot, and their readers are very clever, but ~please~ don't discredit your own talent. Be so proud that you put yourself out there on Romance Novel TV's blog and in Facebook!

You are taking risks, doing the things that scare you. That is amazing! Most people don't do that. So again, be proud.

With risk comes reward. May you have many rewards coming your way in the near future.

--Gerri

EmilyBryan February 1, 2009 at 8:58 AM  

I think we as writers tend to be harsher on our work than anyone else. And as a group, I've never met a more insecure bunch (myself included).

But we keep throwing our hearts on the page, and that counts as courage in my book.

Hold your head high, Gerri. I'll bet your story is wonderful!

Bonnie Vanak February 1, 2009 at 7:20 PM  

Great cover Gerri!

Caroline February 2, 2009 at 12:34 PM  

Hi Gerri,
I’m on the thrilling ride of the first sale. It happened in October of last year but it feels like yesterday. Now, onward and into scary territory, editing, marketing, releases and such. Each day feels like starting in a whole new business. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it. And I feel very blessed. It’s just one of those, feel-along-in-the-dark-as-you-go, things.

Thanks for the post. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. LOL And, BEAUTIFUL cover!!

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner February 4, 2009 at 6:51 AM  

I too am hoping to write those beautiful words THE END... today! (though I'm allowing myself until early tomorrow as a fudge factor).

I totally hear you about the fear creeping in on the re-read! The first draft is an incredible high, where I adore my characters and love my story. It's the best thing I've *ever* written! Then I read it back. LOL. Thus starts the swearing, cursing, wall-kicking, hair pulling.

I'd like to add that I've heard some people say that after you've written X number of books, it becomes a grind, there is no high any more, etc.

I'm about to finish story number... 33? Have lost count. I still looooove writing the stories and getting lost in the characters, hovering on top of that roller coaster.

And seeing a new, beautiful cover never gets old! Yours is particularly gorgeous, Gerri. Congratulations!!

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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