Author: Sandy Vaile
Previously published on the Writing and Wellness blog 03/08/22.
After more than a decade of writing and teaching fiction, I have the luxury of looking back on my journey (thus far) to see where I could have done things differently, to heighten enjoyment and expedite my arrival at the place I am now.
And I’m going to share those insights with you today.
I’m Sandy Vaile, an author of fast-paced romantic suspense for Simon and Schuster US and a fiction coach who is empowering modern writers around the globe to write stories they're proud to share with the world (one author at a time).
If only I'd known the truth
There is limitless information on the internet about how to write and publish a book and yet thousands of authors struggle to find their place in the industry. I believe this is because the creative process isn’t something that can be pigeon-holed and contrived. Original ideas flow from our imaginations and no two minds or lives are alike.
If only I’d known a few truths when I started this journey, it might have made it easier and saved me a heap of anxiety.
If only I'd known things like:
Enjoy the journey
A writing career is long, and creativity is affected by what’s happening in our lives and the world around us. When we are plagued by self-doubt, rejections or story problems we can’t fix, it can be a struggle to maintain our motivation to write. When we suffer illness, trauma or loss, we may even need to take an extended break from writing.
Storytelling is a privilege and a calling.
Something that lifts our soul and challenges our beliefs. A way to share ideas with people we’ve never even met and potentially influence the way they see the world.
That’s why it’s vital to keep the joy of writing alive.
When we get so caught up in ‘the right way’ and what we want to achieve, we tend to lose sight of what we love about creating prose. This is when we feel overwhelmed, even resentful of our stories.
Whether you love creating eloquent sentences, the excitement of bringing an imaginary character to life, or the satisfaction of fitting all the puzzle-pieces of a plot together, you will need to hold onto this joy throughout your career. Sometimes you will need to breathe new life into that joy. To polish the lacklustre surface to a shine. To sprinkle some fairy dust between the layers of a dusty tome.
I was 40 y.o. when I finally decided to take my writing seriously and wouldn’t give it up for the world, but what I thought this life would be and what it has turned out to be are quite different. The road here meandered and took unexpected detours.
It’s not the way everyone would have done it, but it was the right way for me.
The only way it could have been considering how everything else going on in my life influenced the choices and extent of my writing career, which brings me to the next truth, the pointlessness of comparing your journey to that of other authors.
Why you are incomparable
Comparisonitis is a real and debilitating issue facing all authors. We naturally compare what we’re doing to our peers and heroes. It’s how we make sense of the world and understand our place in it. The problem comes when we use comparisons to gauge satisfaction with our own life.
Creativity is, by its very definition, bringing original ideas to life.
No-one has ever written the same story the same way, made exactly the same decisions as you or lived an identical life, so they really are incomparable. Therefore, it’s pointless to compare your work or author career to other authors.
Draw on the joy of writing and believe in your unique creative process.
The sham of chasing ultimate success
The fallacy that keeps so many authors dissatisfied is, believing that achieving a certain pinnacle means they have arrived at success. Not true because there is no such thing as ultimate success.
“… life is a journey and not a destination.” Theologian Lynn H Hough
Take care of you (you're the only one we have)
Prioritising your health (physical, mental and emotional) builds a solid foundation upon which to build your career.
Taking care of our health provides the best chance of having the energy and emotional elasticity to endure a long and happy author career.
Sitting in front of a computer for hours each day, is not a recipe for physical health. It can lead to shoulder, neck and back pain, as well as isolation and self-doubt. But there are things we can do to take care of ourselves, so we can continue to enjoy writing for many years to come.
Authors are all about the words, but as I’ve discovered, there is so much more to having an enduring career in the fiction industry. It takes resilience and persistence to keeping the joy of writing alive, have confidence in your choices and spend time taking care of yourself so your uniqueness can shine.
Take care of your physical and mental health, enjoy the writing process every day, and the rest will come.
Are you tired of struggling through your novel alone?
If you have an unfinished manuscript or first draft, and are looking for support to make it shine and get it published, find out how you can work with an experienced fiction coach and take your writing to the next level.
Book a complimentary chat with Sandy Vaile to get clarity about your next best steps.
Empowering modern fiction authors to confidently write novels worthy of publication