Sometimes it feels like becoming a successful writer is a race to the finish line, but remember: you are the tortoise, not the hare.
Some days I feel like it takes all I can do to not fall behind on everything. It’s hard enough to go through the day to day — work, food, pets, bills, exercise, grocery shopping, errand running, sleeping, paying side hustle, non-paying side hustle (is it still a side-hustle, then?), editing, reading — you know, the usual list of a million things, give or take, that we all have rattling around in our brains.
I find when I have one of those days — days where I am working non-stop on x, y, or z and feel uber-productive before I turn to look at the clock and see how behind I am — I get caught up in feeling like I’m never going to get to where I want to be. I still have a,b,c,d, and the rest of the alphabet to get through. Why is getting to the end of the list taking so dang long?
Days like this make it particularly hard to not to get too far into my head. I can easily start to feel bad that I am so busy surviving that there is no room for creating. Sometimes I look at writers and creatives I admire and the astonishing number of things they have coming up — events, workshops, signings, releases, publications — and think to myself how on earth do they do it all? This goes for both agented full-time writers and unagented little writers like me who are trying to publish while stumbling now and then trying to build their list of writing credits.
Writing is hard. Life is hard. And we all have to deal with at least one of those things, even if you’re not a writer. So, there’s that.
Sometimes I have to remind myself of this. Writing is hard. That’s why so many people don’t do it. That’s why so many people give up and move on to something else. Yes, I have my day job which is one of the most un-writerly things I do day to day where I do math and create spreadsheets and update websites and maintain databases of complicated information and deal with state regulations. It’s hard, too, but in a different way. Yet a lot more people have jobs like mine than write, and I’m not giving up on the writing side of my life. At least not any time soon.
When you’re feeling as if you’ve fallen behind, remember that you’re actually ahead. You’re ahead of a lot of people who will never even try writing, and ahead of people who gave it a fair shot and still thought it was too hard. You’re right where you should be, not behind. Not for your personal writing journey and your ultimate destination.
So don’t get overwhelmed, tackle one thing at a time on that mile-long to-do list. And remember that writing is hard — if it was easy everyone would be doing it.