Friday, June 4, 2010

A Writer’s Life

A Writer’s Life

I’ve had some interesting emails about perfectionism, and it was a topic of conversation at lunch at Writing Friday today—wanting our writing, our creative work, our lives to be just so. That usually involves much bigger schemes and ambitions than most of us can manage, of course setting us up for failure.

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of the writing life. If the media and blogs are to be believed, today’s aspiring writer needs to have a website, a blog or two, being tweeting and facebooking daily, be commenting on other people’s blogs to build readership for her own, be active in local writers’ groups and organizations, be entering contests, submitting queries, marketing her work (whether published or not), and be writing tons of new material. All of this in addition to her day job, family, relationships, and health. This is more of the crazy busy-ness I wrote about last week at This is a sure set-up for feelings of inadequacy, even for a chronic high achiever like me.

So what’s a sane writer to do? I think the answer is simple. Keep writing. Spend as much time as possible reading and writing. At a certain point, there comes an energy lull in the creative process and it will feel right to market and pitch and query. We can easily make ourselves crazy trying to do all this. A full-time writer with assistants might make it happen, but most of us need more calm and reflection to do our best work, and that kind of frantic pandering to what experts tell us we should be doing is a recipe for disaster. Listen to the quiet voice inside and go about doing what’s best for you. That works well almost all the time.

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