Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Counting the Costs of Writing

By Rachel Hauck


We spend a lot of time here at Novel Rocket and in the writing industry talking about craft, networking, marketing, promoting, and the general way to write a book.

And lately, a lot of people talk about the cost of giving your life to writing. Especially to writing fiction.

There’s a price tag, and while I love what I do, there are days I “feel” the price I’ve paid.

I have no co-workers. I sit in my lovely "tower," which I adore, alone every single day.

Sometimes the phone never rings for me. 

I may not get a personal email or friend phone call for days. Thought Facebook has changed friend interaction over the past few years.

Isn't that the crux of social media? There's like, ten different ways for people to contact you now! 

Back to writing...

My family lives out of my state. I don’t have children. My life is created perfectly to crank out two, maybe three books a year. But I gotta tell ya, it can get lonely.

I’m so grateful for the friends the Lord has given me because there IS community in writing.

I can’t write a book without calling my craft partner, Susie Warren, though I am getting better and figuring things out for myself!

But practically speaking, she lives in Minnesota. I live in Florida. We can't just "meet for lunch." 

One of my favorite things from days-gone-by was my corporate job relationships. We had some sure laughs and some grand lunches, and great success on the job. 

I loved solving a problem and celebrating with my co-workers. The day-job provided immediate feedback.

Sure, there were the tough, drag-my-butt-into-the-office days. And I had a very interesting boss. But overall, I enjoyed my office job.

I read about writing being a solitary life. I’m good with solitary. But to be successful, it is a really solitary life.

Writers have to say, “No,” to extra curricular activities. We can’t be running around town shopping, or lunching, or sadly, volunteering.

We have to shut off the TV, the radio, the internet and just “be” with our stories and characters. 

We must face the pain of making people who only live in our heads and hearts come to life on the page. All the while saying "No," to our living family and friends. 

Good writing days are followed by hard writing days. We wrestle with our insecurities and doubt. 

There might be days or weeks where we hear from no one in our profession: not a reader, an editor or agent.

The only way we go forward with any confidence is by sheer discipline and will. And it’s a fight!

The other day I was driving to morning prayer at church, wrestling with my lack of close, local friendships. 

No don’t go feeling sorry for me, I do have friends. I do! I’m not a hermit or miser. But, the friendships I used to have at work, or when in college, are gone. At my age, many of my friends are busy with children or even grandchildren! (Yikes!)

As I mused over this, I finally thought, “Maybe it’s not that I lack friends but I lack the right perspective.”

I’ve chosen the writer life and with it comes certain handicaps. It’s not 9-5. I’m not surrounded by people all day. To do the job, I have to retreat sometimes.

The challenge for us is to be content exactly where God has us. As I mused over my situation, I heard Jesus say, “I’m Your friend.”

I teared up. If anyone knew the loneliness of His calling, of being alone in the hour He needed friends the most, it was Jesus.

See, it’s about perspective. What a true and dear friend we have in Jesus. And the friends I do have in my town, are lovely and always ready for a lunch when I can break free!

But, back to the writer’s life. Are you ready to pay the cost? I’m not the only writer who struggles with friendship time and heart-connections within the local community.

I’ve heard other writers share similar things. 

Take stock of yourself. Are you too busy being a friend to write? 

Do you let family get in the way? I'm not talking neglecting your spouse or children, but when you set aside writing time, they can't come barging in! 

Especially for writing moms, at some point, you have to close out the hubbub and noise of the family and write. 

Are there things in your life cluttering out writing?

Count. The. Cost.

The life of a novelist will cost you precious things. But it is worth it. So very worth it.

Here's a few tips:

1. Get with the Lord. Spend time with Him, praying over your schedule, asking Him to release your heart as an author.

2. Counsel with your spouse or close friends, parents or other family. Is this the time to devote to writing and say no to other things? Or will that season come later. It is RIGHT and PERFECT to wait until the “write” season.

3. Find a place that’s yours to write. Make sure no one else invades. It’s yours. Even if it’s a table at Panera or Starbucks, make it your writing spot.

4. Schedule time to be with friends and family. Be purposeful. If you do ministry at your church or volunteer in the community, keep to a schedule. Don’t pick up extra jobs just because you feel bad for someone. Do ONLY what the Lord has called YOU to do.

5. Write on the hard days. Sometimes those words are better than the ones who come on the good days. If you only have an hour to write on busy days, take it!

Writing is purposeful. So is the writer’s life. Be purposeful. Tune out the noise. Still your heart and mind.

If you feel writing is something God has called you to do, why put it off with distractions and the noise of others, for entertainment. Don't let the "good" be the enemy of "the best."

Happy writing!

**** 
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince.
She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.
Rachel Hauck - Bestselling Christian Author
A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004.
She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. In 2013, she was named Mentor of the Year.
She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

9 comments:

Ane Mulligan said...

As a people person, I'm really feeling this. With the publication of my first book came another contract, and a deadline. I've never had a deadline before. I discovered I CAN write a book in 3 months. But it was hard, as you say.

I've had to sit alone and work hard. Not only that, suddenly I was writing so fast, my crit partners didn't have a chance to input until the first draft was complete. I struggled with wondering if I had made everything I needed in the story.

But would I change it? No. I love it!

Rachel Hauck said...

Ane, exactly, we love it but there is a cost! I think writers just need to know what to expect. ;)

Rachel

Carrie Lynn Lewis said...

Rachel,

A great post and very timely for me. I've recently been thinking about going back into the workplace because of the lack of day-to-day "people contact".

Instead, I'm rethinking that and will put your tips to use in learning to be content where I am.

Thanks!

Rachel Hauck said...

Carrie Lynn, I hear you! it's tough. Even the day-to-day "attaboys" where you accomplish something and feel good, get pat on the back from the boss, or the surprise look of a co-worker when you fixed a problem or finished something.

We don't get that as writers but we have to be strong and confident within ourselves!

You can do it!

Rachel

Rachel Hauck said...

Carrie Lynn, I hear you! it's tough. Even the day-to-day "attaboys" where you accomplish something and feel good, get pat on the back from the boss, or the surprise look of a co-worker when you fixed a problem or finished something.

We don't get that as writers but we have to be strong and confident within ourselves!

You can do it!

Rachel

Rachel Hauck said...

Carrie Lynn, I hear you! it's tough. Even the day-to-day "attaboys" where you accomplish something and feel good, get pat on the back from the boss, or the surprise look of a co-worker when you fixed a problem or finished something.

We don't get that as writers but we have to be strong and confident within ourselves!

You can do it!

Rachel

Leah Morgan said...

So very interesting to hear this side of things, Rachel. I'm such an extrovert, a people lover, and a phone abuser, but I began to question all of that recently. I went to work outside of the home for the first time, taking on a full time job in sales. I'm nearly three years in, and am so exhausted with people. They need, need, need you! They call all day long interrupting your present work. Sometimes they're lonely and just want to get you on the phone so they can go on and on forever, unmindful of your obligations. And yes, there are the accolades, but the trade off is the innumerable rude, demanding, complaining customers who carelessly toss their harsh words about, cutting you in the process.

I mourn my solitude, the liberty to stare out the window, walk outside at whim, think quietly my own thoughts, and write with hours stretching out in front of me.

I'm glad you shared this even though it makes me miss home a little more. Imagine...no phone calls, no pressure to jump and hurry to calm the angry man with a hole in his sofa and a late delivery.

You remind me to appreciate what I should and what someone else would.

Thank you!

Brock Stephen Henning said...

Rachel, this is a great read. I've always wished the non-writers in my life would understand this, but I gave up trying to explain it years ago. I still get looks when I say "no" to volunteer for more than I already have on my plate (and I volunteer a lot through my church...probably too much). I can explain the whole writing thing, but it doesn't matter. Nobody gets it—except for other writers. :) Thanks for the encouragement and to know we're not alone!

Doug Spurling said...

Brock, thanks for sharing this on facebook. Rachel,"...she lives in Minnesota. I live in Florida" Interesting, we winter in Florida and summer in Minnesota. So, if you need me to deliver anything...
Thank you for sharing your heart. I don't mind alone time, either. It's best for hearing and praying and being, what God's called us to. But,it sure is nice to hear someone else is in the same boat too. Thank you.