Keeping Frustration in Check

Are you a writer? If so, chances are, you’re frustrated about some aspect of your writing life. If you’re new, you’re worrying about all those rejection letters, or wishing you could scale the steep learning curve much faster. If you’re seasoned with lots of books to your credit, maybe you’re frustrated because of tight deadlines, marketing, that elusive next contract or all of these. How can we keep frustration from stealing our fire to write?

Writing Tip for Today: I think it helps to realize that writers at all levels get frustrated, cope with self-doubt and hit challenges in their writing lives. Yes, even Stephen King sometimes wonders why he does all this. No matter whether you’re chasing a first byline or your fiftieth series contract, there are going to be times when you ask yourself if self-flagellation might hurt less than the woes of a writer’s life.

  • Seek out a writer friend (family and/or regular friends don’t understand why we torture ourselves) to commiserate with when you’re frustrated. Religious writers might pray more.
  • Read a really good book to inspire you, not put yourself down.
  • Organize your office. (*This one is only good once a year!)
  • Read biographies of famous writers–most have frustrations to report. For instance, Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) once was so frustrated that she threw her manuscript out the editor’s window. He made her go out and pick up every page.
  • Exercise, do yoga or some other physical activity. Mood-boosting endorphins will flow and your back and neck might quit hurting.
  • Get out contest awards, old clips or past accolades from your fifth grade teacher, who believed in you and said you’d make a great writer.
  • Remember the particular thrill of creating. This is why you write. The frustrations are part of the package but don’t have to dominate. Don’t allow frustration to overcome your original passion to write.

Try This! For one hour, write whatever you want. Don’t work on that novel, article that was due yesterday. Just for an hour, put down what you’d write if you weren’t trying to fulfill an obligation or write to a market. Stream-of-consciousness writing is fine. Have fun and shut up the inner critic for now.

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3 comments on “Keeping Frustration in Check

  1. Im one of those writers who loves writing once I get going, but it’s the getting started that I have trouble with. Then I get frustrated at myself for wasting time. I need an internal kick in the behind several times a day!

  2. Thanks so much for the advice…I’m experiencing this today – woke up at 6:30 to do some writing before my 4 month old woke up…and here I am, still with nothing! grrr

  3. Linda here. Hope, It sounds trite, but this too shall pass. I’m the mom of 4 and when my twins were little, I also ran a daycare. I’d type standing up in the kitchen during afternoon rest time–in case a toddler was running naked in the living room.
    Be nice to yourself! You made the effort, which is awesome. I’m giving you a gold star. Do you have someone to keep you producing words?

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