Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Riding the Writing Roller Coaster


On the third Wednesday of every month, Barbara Wallace will lay out strategies for surviving the ups and downs of a writing career.  Today, she introduces the course.

Ever been to Hershey Park?  In addition to being a chocolate-lover’s heaven,  Hershey features one of the largest collections of roller coasters in the country.  There’s one that goes from zero to seventy two mph, one that boasts a 97 degree vertical drop, and my favorite (she says with sarcasm)– one that gives the illusion that you’re about to fall off the edge.  Then, of course, there’s the good old fashion wooden coaster.  You know, the rickety sounding one that always feels like it’s about to fall down under you even though it’s brand new? 

Being a writer is a lot like combining all of them.

In fact, during my writing career, I can safely say that I’ve had enough ups and downs to build six or seven roller coasters.  There were highs, lows, and more loop-de-loops than you could imagine.  And like that old fashioned wooden coaster, I never stopped thinking the whole shebang would collapse out from under me.  I’m going to wager a guess that you all, while perhaps not riding as long, have navigated similar rides.  Everyone who enters this crazy industry does.  It can’t be helped.

If we were at a writer’s conference right now, I would ask you to look to the people sitting on either side of you.  Instead, since we’re all cozily tucked in front of our computers, I’m going to ask you to think back to the conferences you’ve attended over the years.  How many aspiring writers did you meet?  How many are still writing?  More importantly, do you think they’ll still be writing a year from now?  Five years from now?

Writers today have a buffet of choices before them.  Self-publishing, traditional publishing, hybrid publishing.   But having these choices doesn’t make surviving in our industry any easier.  A good number of those faces you’ve seen at conference lunch tables won’t be sitting there five or ten years from now.   Life issues will pull some away; others will simply lose interest.  But a great may will leave because they simply got tired of riding the damn roller coaster.

What I hope to do over the next twelve months is to help your ride on the roller coaster a little bit easier.   Over the next year we’ll talk about such topics as:
  • Motivation
  • Finding Support
  • Professional Jealousy
  • Self Doubt
  • Rejection
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Choices


However, since this is an interactive column, I’d like to address issues that matter to you all as well.  Therefore, I’ll start by asking those of you struggling with a manuscript right now: What is the biggest obstacle standing in your way of enjoying your writing roller coaster ride?

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Barbara Wallace knows the writing roller coaster well.  Her career began in the days before self-publishing and took almost 15 years to get going.  She currently writes for both Harlequin Romance and Entangled Publishing.  Her latest book, THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK, is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as through Harlequin's and Mills & Boon's online sites.  To read an excerpt, click here.

10 comments:

  1. Great post Barbara. If you love writing you are going to do it, no matter what, but sometimes don't we all wonder "what's the point?". Kate Walker makes a good point in her blog of Jan 3rd - keep the joy in your writing. I think it's mental attitude and losing the joy of writing that can be the biggest obstacle. Life can be tough and throw things at you, but writing can help you through it - don't look at it as a chore - it might be a challenge but its also a release, an escape - I try to bear this in mind during the tough times. What I write then might not be what I expected, but at leat I am writing!

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    1. There's a reason why Kate Walker is one of the genres' greatest. She's right. We'll talk about joy and motivation and obstacles later this year. Keep the faith though. And yes, bonus points for getting words on the page.

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  2. Thanks for the post, Barbara! While I'm a newbie to the published side, with my debut just released, I've sure ridden that roller coaster up and down and all around in the years I worked at trying to get there. Now I'm riding it again in a different way, feeling an awful tummy roll as I try to wrestle my current wip to the ground while feeling like I've forgotten how. Not a good feeling! But reading posts like yours, and having writer friends, helps, knowing I'm not alone. That everyone has doubts and struggles and insecurities and talking about them to people who understand goes a long way to coping with it all.

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    1. Hi Robin! Second book syndrome stinks. We always think the last book we wrote was our best work. Just remember, we're all in the same boat, recreating the magic of the first book every single time we sit down. It never goes away - we just get better at dealing with it. And congrats on the debut!

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  3. From MarcieR

    Biggest obstacle at the moment? Wondering if I have conflict that can sustain the whole story.

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    1. Ahh, conflict. We're always worried if there's enough. Just remember this rule: In it's core, the conflict must relate to why the person can't commit to a relationship with the hero/heroine. If the problems can be settled in a conversation, they probably need to be deeper. Also remember, the more deeply rooted a person's internal conflict is, the harder they will be about budging. Good luck!

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  4. Making time. Sometimes putting my writing & myself first - ahead of other things that clamour to be thought of as more important.
    This is going to be a great series - thank you!

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    1. Finding time and keeping our promises to ourselves is going to be something we'll definitely talk about. It might be the biggest obstacle of all!

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  5. sorry to be a day late on the comments, everyone. I am so glad people are excited for this series. See you next month!

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  6. Thanks for a great blog, Barbara. I'm looking forward to reading your wise words over the next year (and I bet those months will just fly by too!) As a soon-to-be published author, the one thing I really struggle with is revisions. Editing can take me longer to do than the actual writing. But I'm sure that's the way it should be, right? It's just so #wadingthroughtreacle Caroline x

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