My greatest difficulty as a writer?
Perhaps the whole fickle publishing industry, using authors as content machines and paying nothing to live on.
Or the changing author-agent-publisher relationship, backlash and bitterness, a traditional route and a new route and neither of the routes seemingly open to anyone.
Maybe Amazon offering an elitist “library” for those who have the money, keeping titles from every other platform, giving such an easy option writers fall for it even if it hurts them in the long run.
No, my greatest difficulty isn’t any of these things. It’s all of these things. Add to this the daily HOW TO WRITE, YOU MUST READ THIS TO WRITE, and 10 THINGS THAT WILL MAKE YOU WRITE AGAINST YOUR PUNY WILL articles tweeted from midnight to midnight. Authors I know losing faith in their work, in their process, thinking they need someone else’s process, lamenting the new process, becoming utterly processed and never writing a word. Arguments about self-publication, free books, the debate about the value of books. “Libraries are irrelevant in the new world order.” Whose new world order? And on. And on. And—
Not one of these things has the power to stop me from writing. But together they all do. The overwhelming writer-related negativity daily beaming into my brain from every corner of the world is enough to make me a little angry, and it’s hard to write while angry. Anger is not productive.
This is my greatest difficulty as a writer: staying calm and remembering that all these things are not writing. Only writing is writing.
To overcome this obstacle I’ve recognized that my access to this difficulty comes most often from the internet. This is how I read news, blog posts, twitter, and so forth. I regulate this access so I’m not bombarded with negativity before I get a chance to write each day. When the negativity arrives, breaking through my carefully laid plans, I see it for what it is and keep it separate from my work. Just because I’m writing a short story doesn’t mean the Kindle Select program will snap it up without my consent. Just because I’m writing a book doesn’t mean I must argue about whether I will eventually submit it to agents or editors or publishers or… Kindle Select. While I’m writing, the most important thing is the story. I breathe, I step back from the world, and make myself small and quiet—including any worries or judgements I have about the publishing world—so the story can speak up.
Basically I’m the writing equivalent of Bruce Banner. Most of the time I’m brilliant and productive, but I don’t like me when I’m angry.
I just… have to breathe.