Overcoming Writer Frustration
Blogger: Mary Keeley
Recently, I’ve had conversations with several clients who are frustrated. Their circumstances are as different as their individual personalities, but there was a common thread: they were frustrated with themselves. It caused me to wonder if there is something about this time of year that provokes this angst.
The calendar has flipped to the last half of the year. Writers who dream of finishing their manuscript and getting it into the hands of editors this year may see their goal slipping out of reach because they’ve placed unrealistic demands on themselves. Client #1 fits into this category.
Her WIP has been on hold while she finishes her demanding Masters courses. But she also is anxious to finish her manuscript. I could hear the frustration in her voice at not being able to do it all. When I reminded her that the writing is only one half of the work involved in a successful publishing experience, she had the reality check she needed about her self-imposed expectations. Not only that, but she agreed that her young family also needs her quality and quantity time now. After talking it through together, she adjusted her manuscript goal to early next year.
Episodes of frustration aren’t limited to new writers. Veteran authors with years of experience in the industry can fall prey to impatience and frustrations with themselves when circumstances or writer’s block impedes progress. Client #2 fits into this category.
This client recently came out of a severely stressful, pressure filled working environment. Finally out from under it, the client is just now realizing how taxing it had been on mind, body, and spirit over an extended period of time. The client is frustrated because a proposal, which has been requested by several editors, is progressing slowly. This person asked me to provide a proverbial kick in the pants, which I did…gently and with a boatload of affirmation and understanding.
Rejections and discouraging critiques received at summer writers conferences have dashed hopes that a proposal would be ready to present in past years. Client #3 fits into this category. Her response offers a road map for getting through.
Her dreams are high, which is good. Authors need to dream big. Her concept for a series is what first caused me to believe in her. But her journey has been frustrating and discouraging as she came to terms with the need for growth in her craft before her work can compete in today’s market. After continual prayer, seeking daily inspiration from God’s Word, and three or four manuscript re-writes, her fortitude is paying off. She recently sent me her latest re-write, and the portion I’ve read so far is immeasurably improved. Encouragement and praise replaced frustration.
I mention this client’s journey last because it expresses the key for all three of these clients, and for you as well. If you believe God has gifted you with the passion and ability to write for his glory, stay close to him and he will direct your path through seasons of frustration. Your agent or close writer friends can be his hands and feet to support you.
Make your agent aware sooner than later if you are in a similar predicament. One facet of an agent’s role is to be a good listener. He or she will appreciate the early heads-up to help you adjust to a workable strategy and negotiate with your publisher when it appears an extension on a due date may be necessary. Delaying this conversation in hopes you’ll either have a burst of productivity or circumstances will suddenly improve may cause serious problems regarding the release date of your book and certain frustration for your agent.
When was the last time you experienced an episode of frustration about your writing progress? How long did it last, and how did you get past it? Veteran authors, how do you break through your frustrating seasons to get back on the right track? Newer writers would love to hear your words of wisdom.
A key to getting through a frustrating season in your writing. Click to Tweet.
Insights on how to overcome an author’s season of frustration. Click to Tweet.
Frustration tends to increase for writers at this time of year. Click to Tweet.