Five Tips to Feel Better About Writing Angst

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Hi, SEers.  John, with you today. I was reading a few Facebook and Twitter feeds the other day and was quite surprised to find several writers talking about how discouraged they are with their writing. It almost seemed that I was wading through a locust storm of dissatisfied folks. Maybe it was just that since they seem to be everywhere, they came to my attention. It was clear that these folks were somewhat new at writing.

There were some consistencies that jumped out of the postings that I had read. Here they are separated into five general areas. 

The primary complaint was about time. Since most writers also have full-time jobs, this complaint is pretty real.

The second item was about productivity. Many of the people talked about missing word or page targets.

The third area was what I call extrinsic annoyances. Husbands, wives, kids, cats, dogs, temperature, the chair’s hardness, crappy internet all fit into this category.  It is these extrinsic items that we tend to concentrate on rather than face the intrinsic dissatisfaction that we may feel. (The old ‘blame others’ ploy.)

The fourth complaint is in the area of quality of work.  The expressions of frustration were over the actual construct of the story. Most of the time, the complaints resulted from some editing duties in which the writer was engaged.

The fifth were statements about dreading the idea of marketing a book. The emotion seemed to be pretty intense with negative feelings about marketing in general

Reading this outward expression of angst got me thinking about the writing process from the perspective of someone just starting. The idea came to me to provide some advice. Of course, I have to confess that I have complained about the same things at one time or another. So maybe this gives me the right to try and help. So here it is the “Old Writer’s Tips to More Writing Satisfaction.”

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Tip one – If time is an issue, stop evaluating time spent writing. Time is all relative. No one cares about, nor does anyone give credit for how fast a book appears. A few hours a week can be rewarding if that is all the time available.

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Tip Two – If targets are missed, set reasonable targets for productivity. If writing time is limited, then it makes sense to set achievable targets. Only a masochist would continue to try and reach for goals always missed.

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Tip Three – If those around you are annoying, try to find the real reason. Ask the question, “What is going on here. It may not be what you think. Trying to find the real reason may be better than blaming those close to you.

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Tip Four – If the story does not please the person doing the writing, it most likely will not satisfy a reader. The manuscript needs revision until the writer is fully satisfied. Yes, this will delay the launch of a book but could lead to more writer satisfaction in the end.

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Tip Five – If the idea of marketing a book leaves you cold, try simple things that could help sales. Asking a few bloggers for help in spreading the word can be a beginning step. Your blog is also a perfect place to announce news about your publishing efforts. You could even start a mailing list with friends that you know. They would be very interested in learning you have published a book. There is a lot of information available on how to sell books. The more a writer wants to sell, the more the writer needs to find out how.

If you have any angst regarding your writing, and your concern falls in one of the five areas above, these tips will help. I would welcome hearing of any other circumstances and whether or not you found these tips useful

60 thoughts on “Five Tips to Feel Better About Writing Angst

  1. I always feel that my written work doesn’t match the perfection I created on my mind.
    It really hardens me in a way.
    But that is who a writer is.
    I’ve been to all these excuses. But I don’t want to stop writing. I don’t want to let my stories or fantasies die pre-matured with the transit of span.

    Brilliant points you’ve made.
    I’m gonna save this Post.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent tips John – especially for young writers. We’ve all been there more than once. All points valid and I will add, you must have the passion want to keep writing, and knowing there’s always something new for everyone to learn. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I can’t believe I missed this post, John, but apparently the entire end of last week was spent in a haze, trying to get ready for my first public presentation in almost 8 months, because I missed Joan’s Friday post, as well. 😯 And there you have my biggest Writer’s Angst: time management, your #1 point. Every day, it seems like my ToDo list is longer and my Available Time is shorter. Consequently, I haven’t written a word on my current WIP, beyond “Riverbend 4” at the top of the draft. But sometimes, other writing related things get in the way (like blogging, hosting others, prep work for local things, and research.) I think you’re right on point in that you can’t set impossible writing goals for yourself, unless you enjoy the feeling of not meeting them. There’s a lot more to writing than the words on the page, especially today, with self-publishing and marketing.

    Excellent post, my friend, and I’m taking note of all your suggestions! Sharing, too. Sorry I’m late, but still very glad I got here!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is wonderful. You itemise the common complaints and then you shoot them down so neatly. Sometimes it takes someone with a cool head and a way with words to put things in perspective. (Though I’ll be hiding in Gwen’s cave when my next book’s finished…)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great article, John. Like so many others who have gone on this amazing journey into writing, I too have felt the angst of uncertainty, and have at times allowed it too much time to fester. Every day is a learning curve, every step moves me forward. We are all human and therefore fallible. We don’t need to doubt ourselves, for there will always be others out there willing to do that for us. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sorry I’m late to the party! I ended up taking a few vacation days and have been away from the computer.
    This is a great post, John, which I’m sure all writers can relate to. I’ve whined about each and every one of these things at one time or another. I believe that writing is not for the faint of heart, and overcoming (or dealing with) these problems are part of the game plan. Sometimes I feel like I’m wining, and then other times…well…I need to develop a new game strategy 🙂

    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I like your advice, John. I had many occasions to tell programmers who were consistently missing their target dates to “set reasonable targets.” Doing so is very powerful, because, when you do hit a target, you feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am nowhere near being a published writer and yet, while I don’t spend that much time on Twitter, I have noticed the bitching and whining going on. Totally unproductive. This is very sound advice for when (if) I ever dare go there…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. All good advice, John. I think I’ve been there with these complaints at one time or another. I try not to put artificial or someone else’s requirements on myself, unless its necessary. Marketing will always be my least favorite thing but won’t detour me from writing. I jumped into writing full of joy and hope. I lost a bit of that in the learning process, and other areas, but decided it was time to go back to what I love doing with writing, which is creating and going to that special place only writing takes me:)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m lucky. Now that I’m retired, I have more time to write. But before that, when sometimes I had writing time and sometimes I didn’t, I focused on anything that went right. When I got tons of rejections, I celebrated when I got a note from an editor telling me WHY he/she turned down my book. When I finished another book that didn’t sell, I looked at what I did better in that book than the last one. But it’s impossible not to get discouraged sometimes. We put so much passion and effort into each story, it takes a minute to buoy ourselves back up again when disappointment strikes. If you’re truly hooked on writing, though, you just pick yourself up, learn from mistakes you’ve made, and start the next project. Writing isn’t easy.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Writing is not easy. That’s a given. Creating stories in our heads is totally different than solidifying them in print. I don’t worry too much about goals or targets. I worry more about time. That’s my biggest constraint. Even though I will be 70 next year, I still work outside the home to make ends meet. This limits my time. Your tip about blogging is spot-on! Our blogs are really our biggest marketing tool. Great post, John!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Excellent tips, John. I hear the same complaints on Twitter. Which is NOT the place to voice grievances. Anyone could be reading those tweets. Why risk sounding bitter to a potential reader/reviewer/editor/agent?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes I’m shocked what folks put out there. I read a rant where a person gave themselves an F in creativity. I guess they are looking for someone to say, “Oh no. You are the most creative writer I know.” Good luck with that. Thanks for the comment, Sue.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Very good points, John. I think each writer needs to find their own path towards authorship. I envy the structured folks who dedicate certain times of the day to writing and set a word count goal. I’ve tried that route and it’s not for me. Since my WIP requires notable research, much of my day is focused on obscure subject matter that I know nothing about. Don’t get me wrong, I love research, but I can get lost in it. What works for me is to write as I feel compelled to write. That might mean a couple of paragraphs or that can be several thousand words in one sitting. As for marketing, I’d rather hide in a cave than stand on a platform and announce my latest. The introverts of the world (and I am one) know it is very hard to step into the spotlight–for any reason. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  14. You make some great points, John. With a full-time day job and family responsibilities, writing is a hobby that pays well…but not enough to quit my job. That said, I’ve learned to manage my time and try not to stress too much because in the end, I always get it done. Great post today, John!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I’ve only just given myself permission not to feel guilt or angst if I don’t get writing done today/this week etc. I fall into the category of having a full time job and busy life, so writing is not always something I get to do regularly. And I used to beat myself up about it. But just recently, in the last few weeks, I’ve started thinking ‘that’s not fair’, and have started to be easier on myself. It’ll probably only last till my next writing spurt when I imagine I’ll go straight back into obsessive angst again 😉

    Liked by 6 people

  16. This is your best article yet, John.
    I especially endorse the suggestion about setting realistic targets, though I never set myself a wordcount per day, or a deadline to complete a book. It’s finished when it’s the very best work you can produce.

    Liked by 5 people

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