Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wildcard Weekend:The Worst Thing about Being A Writer

What is the worst thing about being a writer? Presents and Medical Romance Author Melanie Milburne has an answer!
I get asked all the time to speak to various groups about what it is to be a multi-published best-selling romance author. These talks are meant to be entertaining and informative and I make sure everyone leaves with a smile on their face. But sometimes I feel like telling the truth about what it is really like being an author under deadline. I want to tell the audience about the pressure of producing book after book. I want to tell them about the days when writing is a chore, not a joy.
The fact is writing is one of the hardest jobs in the world. No, not physically, and certainly not as emotionally challenging as being a cop, medico or brain surgeon, but it is still extraordinarily difficult all the same.

Because it is not a job you can walk away from. It comes with you. No matter what you do your characters come with you, haunting you, taunting you, or reminding you that you have to do something with them before a certain date or else! You can be lying on a beach trying to relax and those pesky characters will be with you. Or you could be having dinner with your partner when a wayward thought takes your attention away from the romantic things he is saying. Or you can be doing the most mundane things like grocery shopping and your mind will suddenly drift off because of the picture in one of the magazines near the checkout.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not behind in my deadlines and never have been. I make a point of being super organised and usually stay two books ahead so I have time to rewrite and edit. But it is still hard to write when you have other things going on in your life. Illness, family/friend dramas (where else would we get our ideas if not for family and friends!) and the vicissitudes of each day living as a working woman. Trying to find the balance between family, work and play has never been more difficult. There are so many competing demands on our time with this cyber age.
As a writer it is frightening how time consuming the business side of things is. I had no idea when I was first published that I would spend the amount of time I do on other tasks that do not get a single word down on my current WIP. This is why so many newly published writers find the pressure too much a few books in. The rubber starts to hit the road. The reality of being a published author in demand is nothing like playing at writing as a hobby. It is demanding, relentless, heart-wrenching and lonely. Writing when you feel in the mood is wonderful, but what if you don’t feel like it but have to anyway? That is when really dedicated writers show their mettle. You have to dig so deeply and put other things aside to get the job done. It is enormously satisfying when you do it in spite of your feelings/mood or circumstances. In fact, I have found that writing when things are going haywire in other areas of my life can be a very cathartic experience. I channel those emotions, converting them if I have to into something more appropriate and then put them in a novel.
For those who are keen to get published start working now on disciplining yourself to focus, focus, focus. Set goals and meet them no matter how small. If you aim for nothing you will hit it every time, as the saying goes.
Stay positive but realistic. Don’t over commit yourself as you just don’t know what is around the corner. On the other hand, don’t under estimate yourself. Sometimes raising the bar a little bit is a way of stretching yourself to achieve things you had no idea you could achieve.
Happy reading and writing!

You can learn more about Melanie on her website. Her latest North American Presents is Her Mediterranean Playboy


  1. Hi Melanie

    What an inspiring post. I have to say I am in need of a bit of inspiration at the moment cos I am in the middle of revisions which I thought would be easy on the surface but have turned into a bit of a nightmare... Your post hit the spot. So thanks.

    Heidi x

  2. So glad you found it helpful,Heidi. It is so easy to think you are the only one struggling with the writing process but I think writing in any genre is difficult. Even academics tear their hair out over preparing a paper!
    Hope the revisions go well.

  3. Thanks for the insight. I guess some might think it will get easier once you're published, but it seems to get harder.
    Thanks for the honesty and openness on what to expect after you sell. It's always nice to know what's on the other side so one can prepare themselves.
    thanks again.

  4. Melanie, thank you for saying it as it is. I love writing as a career and wouldn't want to do anything else but sometimes it is tough and tiring and we need to acknowledge that. Your post acknowledges the problems but is positive and encouraging at the same time.