One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever seen for writers was, “If you can quit, then do it.” The theory is that a writer has to write, it’s a compulsion that has to be sated. And if you’re one of those people who could write, but won’t, then quitting is far better than putting yourself through the life of the average writer.
Because it’s hard to write a novel. It’s hard to revise a novel. It’s hard to read a bad critique, and to give a bad critique. It’s hard to find an agent, and harder still to find a book deal. It’s hard to read negative reviews, it’s hard to keep your professional mask in place all the time. It’s hard to learn patience, and adapt to the publishing timeframe.
And one of the hardest parts about being a writer is that no one can ever fully prepare you for what you’re going to go through. Because everyone’s journey is different, and everyone hits different stops along the way. And no one really prepares you when your critique partner sails through the process while you struggle, or vice versa.
No one can teach you how to let go of bad reviews, or how to deal with the negative things you hear about yourself. No one can tell you what, exactly, you want/need in an Agent (assuming you are looking for one). No one can tell you, with any certainty, how much promotion is too much, or what promotion works (and what doesn’t). These are all things that are different for every single person, and what may work for your friends may not work for you.
It’s hard to be a writer, because there’s something of a steep learning curve. Sometimes, you make mistakes and you have to learn from them so you don’t do it again. A lot of the time, the only way to prepare yourself for something is by going through it. You may think you can handle something, but when it’s right in front of you, sometimes you’re surprised.
And it’s a give and take, too. The things that get under your skin may not bother your friends. I know there’s definitely situations where I get upset about things that don’t bother my writer friends in the slightest. And they get upset about things that I brush off easily.
It’s hard to be a writer, because you never know what to expect. And even when you do expect things, the end result is almost never what you started out thinking it would be.
A positive attitude helps more than anything else, as does a life and hobbies outside of the computer screen. The more you can fill your life with things that aren’t Writing and All the Myriad Ways You Can Be Disappointed (which might be my autobiography title someday) ;), the less of a hold the dark side of writing can get on you.
The best that any of us can hope for is to keep our head up. Because there’s nothing we’d rather do than write. And writing is the easy part.