Writing Is Hard Work

Writing is an endeavor of high highs and low lows that can be maddeningly frustrating one moment and intensely rewarding the next. Writing requires perseverance and the stamina to endure the long journey from idea germination to successful publication. Writers need to have thick skin, able to maintain a healthy life perspective while being pummeled emotionally by rejection and criticism.

Finish what you start. I can’t guarantee you that if you finish your story that you’ll be published. What I can guarantee is that if you never finish you will never be published. If you’re like me, you’ve got story ideas spewing out of your brain faster than you can jot them down on your iPad. The problem with that is if you don’t have the fortitude to focus and see one thing through from beginning to end, you’ll never finish it. You’ll have a box full of unfinished, uncommunicated ideas. When you die, those that you leave behind will curse you as they burn your leftover junk in effigy.

Delve Deeper. So you’ve finished draft number gazillion and one. You’ve got a good story. Solid characters. Fast-paced prose. Descriptive detail. Set your story aside for a few days or weeks. When you return, strive to delve deeper. Spice up the humor; stretch your boundaries. Rewrite the punchlines so they aren’t just mimicking what’s already been done a billion times before. Get grittier by darkening the edges to increase the tension. Twist the characters by adding a nuance to heighten the angst. Raise the stakes by increasing the risk so that readers get the highest return on their precious investment of time.

Join a Critique Group. Part of why 12-step programs are so successful is because they are made up of people helping people just like themselves. It is addicts helping addicts. A critique group works in a similar way. It is writers helping other writers. Writing can be frustrating and discouraging. Joining a group of like-minded individuals will reenergize and refresh your muse. Yes, they will be telling you what worked and what didn’t work for them. This helps thicken your skin in a nurturing environment. They aren’t just wounding you without forethought or trying to decimate you for sheer wanton malice; instead they are investing in you, and your story, by walking along the journey from idea to publication with you.

Above all, keep writing. You can do it; I believe in you.

Rainer Bantau Thanksgiving 2014

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