Push Your Boulder Up that Hill

In Greek mythology, the king Sisyphus was punished by having to eternally push a boulder up a hill. When he reached the top, the boulder rolled to the bottom and he had to push it up once again. Over and over and over again.

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Sometimes writing feels like that. We start our book rolling, struggling through those first couple of chapters to overcome inertia, the forces (whether they are doubt or our struggles with beginnings) that hold us back. We build momentum, rolling along at a good clip, until we get stuck. We’ve pushed our boulder into a dead end. We have to let it roll partway back down the hill in order to pick a new path.

Still we push on. We grind out that word count, plugging away at whatever goal we set for our self that day. Finally, after months or years or decades, we push that boulder the last step. We cheer. We collapse on the ground. We actually visit our friends and family and smile because we have time, glorious time.

Only to realize that sometime during our celebrating, our boulder rolled back down the hill. We need to start the process all over again, whether it is editing or starting the next book.

Somehow it isn’t any easier pushing that boulder up the hill than it was the first time. The beautiful momentum we’d built those last few yards to the top is all gone. Inertia is just as terrible. We moan in despair. We can’t believe we are putting ourselves through this again.

That’s us writers. We are a little bit insane. We’ve gone crazy a few times.

But this isn’t our punishment. It is our blessing. We have a gift not everyone has. Few people have the muscles or the perseverance to push the boulder of a book all the way to the finish. Even less do it again and again.

Today I started book three of my Blades of Acktar series today. It is overwhelming starting at the bottom once again, staring at the mountain of words I need to type. But I’ll get there. I’ve done this twice before. I can do it again.

What project are you working on? Where are you at in your book?

Also, I am giving away a copy of Nadine Brandes’ new release A Time to Die. Enter the giveaway here.

The Agony of Waiting

I think every writer struggles with patience in some form. It takes months to get that burning idea onto paper. It takes more months to edit and polish the manuscript. More months, possibly years, pass as the author queries agents and eventually editors. Even after the book is accepted by a publisher, the rounds of editing and printing of the book take another year or more. To add to this frustration is the question of well-meaning friends and family who ask when the book you are still writing is going to be published.

I’ve been struggling with gaining the necessary patience. Since graduating college, I’ve felt so ready to be a published author. I’m finishing manuscripts. I’ve developed a writing schedule. I started this blog. Frustration built inside my chest until I wanted to scream at the pressure.

Perhaps I’m struggling with patience, but I have realized something very important along the way.

Sometimes the waiting makes us ready to hear the answer.

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If I were to be published right now, it might feel good to me, but God knows I wouldn’t be ready for it. I wouldn’t appreciate it the way I would after a long time of waiting. I might even be filled with pride believing that I accomplished it all by myself.

The waiting keeps me humble. It makes me rely on God. I have to trust that publication will come in God’s time, not mine.

I’m also learning the kind of author I want to be someday. When I’m a published author someday, I want to remember the thrill of opening my email inbox and realizing my favorite author personally emailed me back. I don’t want to forget the giddiness of commenting back and forth with an author on her blog. I need the feeling of being a person not just a faceless fan ingrained in my memory so I can treat my readers that way.

I don’t like the waiting, If God’s answer is no, then I won’t like that either. But if that time comes, then this time of waiting will have made me ready for that answer. If His answer is yes, then I’ll be ready for that too.

What about you? What are you waiting for? How is your waiting making you ready to hear the answer?

Go Teen Writers 100/100 Challenge

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Recently, I discovered a wonderful website called Go Teen Writers run by authors Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morrill. The blog is full of writing advice. They also have a book on writing also titled Go Teen Writers.  It is the kind of website I wish I’d had as a teenage writer. I sometimes felt so lost at times with no one giving advice for young writers.

One of the things that Go Teen Writers does is host word count challenges to spur young writers into writing daily. Right now, they are hosting a 100/100 challenge. This is a challenge to write 100 words a day for 100 days. This is the last day to sign up.

I wish I’d had someone like Go Teen Writers to push me along at that age. I didn’t start a daily word goal until my final year in college when a college professor gave us an assignment to write 200 words a day for a week. From there, I worked my way up to the 1000 words a day that I write now.

If I’d done something like the 100/100 challenge years ago, would I have written more back then? Would I perhaps have finished my first manuscript long before this year? I’m not sure.

I encourage all of you to at least try a daily word count for a week or two to see if it is something you can sustain. You might surprise yourself! I certainly did the first time I tried it!

Do you have a daily word count? Why or why not?

Claim the Name

For years, I told everyone who asked that I was going to be a writer someday. They would smile, nod, and tell me that was a good dream for the future in a tone of voice that let me know that it wasn’t going to happen for a long time. That was okay. I was content with writing for fun. I rarely finished anything, but it was fun to toy around with the ideas.

I went off to college. I learned how to write lots of short stories, and I told myself that I didn’t have time to write anything longer. That was okay. I was going to be a writer someday. Eventually.

Then, I graduated. I wanted to launch my writing career as I had been envisioning for four years…and realized that I had nothing to work with. I had some ideas, some half-finished projects, but nothing to use to seek publication. In fact, I knew nothing about publishing. I didn’t even have my own blog.

Somewhere along the way, I had believed my own words. I was going to be a writer someday. Not now.

It was my excuse for not writing. Not being disciplined. Not researching the world of publishing.

It was time for a title change.

I began to tell people that I am a writer. After all, publication doesn’t make a person a writer. The act of writing does. I gave myself a writing schedule. I blog-stalked my favorite authors. I learned. I wrote.

That was a year ago. I have now finished three manuscripts and I’m working on a fourth. I’m launching this blog, and I hope to continue to reach out and make connections with my fellow writers, both published and pre-published.

I wouldn’t trade my years of being a someday writer. I did a lot of practice writing in those years that will never make it off my computer, but the practice brought me to where I am. I couldn’t claim the name of writer until I was ready.

Now I am still learning patience. Publication is still a ways off, and it’s tough to lean on God’s timing instead of mine.

What about you? Are you still calling yourself a someday writer?