I am delighted to welcome Jennifer Wilck to my blog today!
The writer’s life is a solitary one. Yes, we have ways to network with people—in person at writer’s association meetings and conferences such as those sponsored by RWA, via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and even through critique groups, whether they are online or in person. But at the end of the day, in order to get anything done, and frankly, in order to be able to live up to our stated occupation as a writer, we have to actually write.
And for most of us, that means sitting down, alone, and jumping into our imaginary world, filled with our imaginary friends, and participating in imaginary conversations. In some ways, it’s probably better that we’re alone, since most people frown at us when they see us talking to ourselves.
For me, it’s shoving the kids out the door just in time for the bus, kissing my husband goodbye, checking off the umpteen million errands I have planned for the day and then carving out a specific time to write so that I can be at least semi-productive each day.
But it’s that very aloneness that makes this a difficult love/profession/calling to have.
If, like me, you have a set time each day to write, rather than the freedom to write whenever the muse strikes you, you have to ensure that the time you’ve set aside to write is also the time that creativity strikes. Sure, you can dictate your amazing thought to Siri as you’re driving in your car (and hope that what she mangles is somehow salvageable and that you’ll remember what you actually meant by the time you sit down to write), but really, your writing time is when that creative part of your brain has to be on and working well. And sometimes, well, that doesn’t always happen. When you’re by yourself, there’s no cheering section to spur you on; no water cooler to gather around and discuss what’s giving you trouble.
At some point, if you’re serious about writing, you have to be willing to let it go and send it out into the world. You have to show it to others and get their opinions. You have to be open to suggestions and make changes to your words. You have to submit it to agents and publishers in order to find out if what you’ve created is ready to fly on its own. And as much as that may be your ultimate goal, it can be really scary. Especially when, despite our best attempts, we get the dreaded rejection letter. That kind of news can send us into a tailspin of dejection and cause us to doubt our abilities and our purpose.
Writing is subjective. What works for one person doesn’t work for others. What’s believed to be a best seller by one agent is completely uninteresting to another one. So, how do we find our inspiration to write? How do we get past our writer’s block and keep plugging away at what we hope will be a wonderful story? How do we conquer our fears and submit our precious work to others? And how do we deal with rejection?
As a writer, we have to find a balance between our need to be alone and our need to interact with others. We have to make time for ourselves so we can stick to our goals, but we also have to branch out and interact with others. We have to attend those writer meetings, plan to pitch our stories at conferences, sign up to take an online course. We have to network on Facebook and Twitter—with readers and writers—to create that support system that is invaluable and to provide different perspectives and feedback. We have to support and nurture ourselves so we can help prop up others who need encouragement.
So, enjoy the alone time. Take advantage of the solitary times to really focus on what you want to accomplish. Read out loud and talk to your characters without fear of being mocked. But be willing to come out into the open and talk to others. Show them your work and ask to see theirs. Join critique groups and writer associations. You may find your inspiration hiding in the most public of places, in plain sight actually, just waiting for you to discover it.
And most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP!
When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Each character had a specific personality, a list of likes and dislikes, and sometimes, even a specific accent or dialect. Even as an adult, I think about the characters and stories at night before I fall asleep, or in the car on my way to or from one of my daughters’ numerous activities (hey, anything that will drown out their music is a good thing).
One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital—the computer was way less scary) and five years later, I’ve gotten two book contracts from Whiskey Creek Press. A Heart of Little Faith came out in June; Skin Deep is coming out in November.
In the real world, I’m the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, traveling and watching TV. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I serve on our Temple Board, train the dog we adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.
When all of that gets overwhelming, I retreat to my computer, where I write stories that let me escape from reality. In my made-up world, the heroines are always smart, sassy and independent. The heroes are handsome and strong with just a touch of vulnerability. If I don’t like a character, I can delete him or her; if something doesn’t work, I can rewrite it. It’s very satisfying to be in control of at least one part of my life. My inspiration comes from watching the people around me and fantasizing about how I’d do things differently.
I can be reached at:
My website: www.jenniferwilck.com
I tweet at: https://twitter.com/JWilck.
My blog (Fried Oreos): www.jenniferwilck.wordpress.com
I contribute to Heroines With Hearts at: www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com.
My books can be purchased through Whiskey Creek Press www.whiskeycreekpress.com or via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
A Heart of Little Faith
Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband’s death three years ago, she’s in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance.
With a wheelchair instead of a white horse, and a vow against falling in love again as his armor, Gideon Stone is the last person Lily expects to sweep her off her feet. But when a business agreement forces the two of them together, that is exactly what happens.
As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other’s arms? The answer is yes, but the bumps along the way demonstrate that neither of them can go it alone.
A Heart of Little Faith is available from:
Whiskey Creek Press: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=907
The last thing Valerie needs, after escaping an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and rebuilding her life, is a broody, secretive, standoffish man. But that’s exactly what she gets when she becomes a makeup artist on the set of a hit sitcom and draws the attention of the series’ star.
John Samuels hides a terrible past—a life of abuse and neglect. A successful acting career and the affection and support of cast, crew and friends, does nothing to convince him that he is anything other than an unlovable monster.
Will he learn that the life he’s been living has been built on a lie or will he be doomed to repeat the sins of his father?
Skin Deep is available from:
Whiskey Creek Press: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=942
19 thoughts on “Keeping Up Morale by Jennifer Wilck”
Thanks, Babette, for hosting me today. So happy to be here. Looking forward to chatting with your readers…
You nailed the aspiring writer life, Jennifer. I can’t seem to “reserve” a specific time each day for writing–and I need to. Fortunately, I am in the editing stage. that is easier than staring at a screen inhabited with only a blinking cursor.
Ana, thanks for stopping by. My “specific time” changes periodically and I’m trying to learn to be flexible. Not my best trait! 🙂
Great post, Jen! You’re right about writing being a solitary job. We can chat (either literally or online) with others about it, but in the end it’s our story and we’re the only ones who can write it!
Paula, I go through phases where I alternately love and then hate being alone. Luckily I’m able to play with my schedule a bit and find ways of dealing with it–and there’s always Facebook!
You cover it all so well. Best wishes to you.
Thanks so much, Billy Ray. I appreciate your stopping by.
Yes, you hit the nail on the head. Sometimes it’s difficult being in such a solitary profession, esp. if one is an introvert like myself. I have to force myself to make contact with the outside world, lest I become a troll who never sees the light of day! Congrats on your release!
Yeah, the forcing myself is the hard part, Tiffany. Although it does get easier the more you do it. Thanks for stopping by!
Well said, Jennifer! And each of us writers is so different–what we need to keep our morale up varies vastly. For me, its comforting just to hear we all struggle with this. Thanks for the reminder I am not alone!
No, Amber, you’re definitely not alone! Thanks for stopping by.
Jennifer, you are so right–people must MAKE the time to write. I work and for years have set up a schedule so I can work aorund work and volunteer committments. You really have to make writing a priority. I aim for a certain number of pages a weekninstead of daily, sicne that helps me be flexible in achieving my goals. Good luck with the new book!
Thanks, Roni. That schedule seems to work well for you. So glad you stopped by.
You don’t understand being alone until you start writing. Even after you join the rest of the world you’re still having that conversation in your head with your imaginary people. Like you’re the gate keeper between two worlds and neither side can hear the other.
Thanks Corablu. And how about when the voices are speaking so loudly, all you want to do is go back to writing, but you have to be friendly in the “real” world! 🙂
Too true. Looking interested is the worst when a scene is playing out in your head. 🙂
I know, right?! 🙂
Hi Jennifer and Babette,
There is an interesting balance to being alone and getting out there when you’re a writer. You need to be alone to write. You need to market yourself to sell what you’ve written. As writers, we need to find the time for both.
Hi Debra, thanks for dropping by. You’re right, balance is key. Still working on that one…