Avoiding The Writing Crash and Burn

05 Jan

I Want to Be A Writer Series


There is a very significant difference between a “writing slump”, and a full blown “writing crash and burn”.  A slump is something that is easily overcome with a little effort.  It’s difficult to survive, let alone, come back from a crash.

Just as it is in a slump, there are many reasons why potential writers crash and burn before they finish their first book, or after only writing one book. No matter what the symptoms are, they all lead to one major problem – the will to write disappears. Just as you cannot force a horse to drink water, you cannot force yourself to write if the will to do is no longer there. So let’s look at a few ways to avoid this problem by implementing a few safety precautions.

Writing Fatigue – Too much of anything can easily become a hazardous obsession. As the old saying goes, “you should never put all of your eggs in one basket”. A good quality life in general comes from balance. When you spend every waking moment, and every moment you should be sleeping, writing, you will quickly burn out. What was once a dream coming true, will become a burden you must complete so that you can do all of the other things you have neglected. Soon, everything that you have been putting off, will interfere with your ability to write. Instead of writing being a positive in your life, it becomes a negative that takes you away from your family and other important, vital, aspects of your life. There is nothing more inspirational to a writer than living and observing their environment, but you must get away from your desk from time to time to do that.

Health –  A strong, healthy mind depends upon a strong, healthy body. Even something as simple as a common cold can interfere with your ability to write. Lack of sleep can lead to a foggy mind that cannot concentrate. Lack of a healthy diet can as well, not to mention how aggravating it is to stop in the middle of a thought process, just to get your stomach to quit screaming at you. I could go on and on about all of the various ailments that can wreak havoc on your writing ability, but I’m sure you get the idea. The best thing you can do is to balance your life by creating a daily sleep, eat, and exercise schedule that your writing depends on, rather than they depend on your writing. If you allow your writing to be something you get to enjoy only when those important tasks are taken care of, you will look forward to writing even more. But physical health is not the only important factor when it comes to your mental health.  Make sure that you do not neglect your family and friends. It is very easy for a writer to get caught up inside of their head, having imaginary conversations with amazing fictional characters. But they are not real and they go away when the book is done. Many writers suffer from depression, and studies have proven that many creative types are bi-polar, among other mental ailments.  Yes, I know it’s scary. But that is even more reason to make sure that you spend time living outside of your book, enjoying life just as much, or as closely as you possibly can, as the characters in your books.

Disappointment – There are many levels of disappointment you will find yourself dealing with throughout the writing, publishing, and marketing process. The best way to guard against this hazard is to educate yourself and be willing to face the truth, rather than fantasy. If you are writing with the soul purpose to get rich and famous, then you might as well give up now. I’m not saying it won’t happen. We have all seen the few who have made it to such heights. But for everyone that has, there are thousands that remain virtually unknown except for a few loyal and dedicated fans. Let’s look at some others you will face.

  • Doubt – Every writer faces moments when they doubt whether or not their writing is good enough. Personally, this often comes after reading a book from one of my favorite authors and I realize that my writing simply cannot compare to their’s. It is during these moments when I have to remind myself that I am not writing just to be another voice that blends in with all the others. A great artist is one that stands out and becomes the one that others want to be like.  Yes, I know that sounds vain. But unless you are writing fan fiction, this is how you have to think. This has to be something you strive for if you want your “voice” to be heard.
  • Rejection – We have all heard that virtually every author has gone through their own series of rejections. You have to understand that this is a part of the publishing game, especially if you are attempting to be accepted by one of the big publishing houses. If you are self-publishing, then rejection takes on a whole new, even more personal, element. You must armor yourself with a very thick skin, and always remember that not everyone is going to like your books. That is why there are so many different genre’s. Even more so, not everyone is going to be able to relate to your story. That doesn’t mean that your story is written badly or that your story is horrible. You will get a few negative comments no matter how good your story is. Think about this; people complained that the Harry Potter books were too long. Personally, I would have loved it if they never ended. That is just an example of how you simply cannot please everyone, and you should never try to. Focus on your target audience, and when reading reviews of your work, take what you can get from them and use that knowledge to make your next book even better.
  • Low Sales – Marketing can be a nightmare, especially for someone that is completely unknown. You have no choice but to begin by getting the word out to the people you know in hopes they will help you spread the word. That usually means friends and family. I hate to tell you this, but they are usually the first ones to expect you to give them a free book. That is fine, but don’t’ expect every person you know to buy a hundred copies of your book. It takes a lot of work and even more time to get your name out there and generating some buzz about your book. Most ebooks that are self-published never sell more than a hundred copies. Why? Simple, no one knows about the books. It usually has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, or if the story is interesting. This is why I always say that writing the book is the easy part. It is selling it that is agonizing. Take each sell you get, one at a time, and know that each one is a sign of success. If that person buys another book you have written, then that is an even greater success.

I have only touched on the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the multitude of obstacles that could destroy your writing career. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that your success is measured by your standards, not everyone else’s. Set realistic goals for yourself, and try to balance your life as much as you possibly can. Live your life doing the things that make you happy, for the sake of being happy, and you will find true contentment. That is something that no amount of money or fame could ever buy.

Previous Post in the Series “Slopping Through the Writing Slump”

Next Post in the Series “Beta Readers”

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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in IWTBAW Series


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