Thursday, July 18, 2013

Your Relationship With Writing & Publishing

I like to think of my relationship with writing as one of clumsy discovery, frequent doubt, and an alarming amount of "Hail Mary" plays as things miraculously come together. The unknown element is what I love most.

My relationship with publishing is more like having an emotionally abusive boyfriend, who is constantly telling me I look stupid or fat and maybe I should change my clothes or probably my whole face. But then he says one nice thing and I forgive him all wrongdoing. 

These are MY relationships with writing and publishing. Not yours. I want to make this clear because I think sometimes people like to tell writers what their relationships with these two entities should be. You've probably heard stuff like:

"You have to treat writing like a real job or you won't get anywhere." 

"Writing is the best job ever, why treat it like a 'real job' when you don't have to?"

"You shouldn't get down about rejections—toughen up."

"It's okay to feel bad about rejections. It's natural."

"Writing isn't a magical thing. You just put words on the paper and fix them stop whining about writer's block."

"Writing is a creative process, and you can't entirely control it nor should you. Go with the flow."

Let's take a moment to absorb the juxtaposition of all those statements. Because once you do, you might realize that this kind of writing advice is just as varied and subjective as the advice you get on your actual books. 

The truth is, there's no one way to be a writer. 

Back to my relationships with writing and publishing: Are they perfect? Hell. No. Do they evolve? Yes, a little. But the fact of the matter is that they are mine. The way I approach writing and publishing is completely personal, as it is for you and all the other authors out there. Our experiences may overlap a bit or even a lot, but because we're individuals we all experience this profession differently. 

We're all still learning and going through things that are specific only to us. We all have to figure out the best way to deal with this business and the work on our own. For some that may be "butt in chair" and for others it may be "go on a walk and have a think." Both are okay. 

Your relationship with writing or publishing may not be perfect or in some cases not even healthy (we all know mine hasn't always been healthy)—but that is for you to deal with and figure out and come to terms with. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for what you struggle with. This really is a journey, a learning process, and as you go along you'll figure it all out for yourself. 


  1. Thanks, Natalie. The conflicting advice wears on an author. Do I? Don't I? Thanks for the reminder that we're all unique, and...
    OMGOSH ARE THOSE COVERS?!??!?! HAVE I BEEN GONE FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE SO LONG THAT NOW THERE ARE COVERS AND TRANSPARENT IS OUT!?!!?!? I have, haven't I? Sad, sad, sad. Well, you've probably heard this a dozen times over, but, wonderful, wonderful covers! And now I have to go get my hands on Transparent.

  2. Hear, hear! I keep saying this, it doesn't matter whether you for for self-publishing or traditional. Big 6 or small press. Hybrid author or all-in on one format. Agent or no agent.

    What matters is you educate yourself about your options and choose the path that's right for you.

  3. Great post! It's easy to get wrapped up in all the advice that's available, but I totally agree that a writing career is not a one-size-fits-all. We just have to remind ourselves this :)

  4. Great post, Natalie. It's so true that we all struggle with certain things and that's okay. And personally, I don't think getting a publishing contract makes it all rosy and perfect. There are still struggles and hard times as well as the happy times like revealing the cover and book release time.

  5. Guess what? On the Booklikes homepage they have a video that shows a bunch of book covers, and Transparent is on it! You can see it at the very end. How cool is that?

  6. Reminds me of being a new mom. Everyone thinks someone knows the right way to do it, and if we feel unsure we must be doing it wrong. I hope that with both mothering and writing I learn to own my style without regret. Soon.

  7. I don't have much experience with publishing since I've never been published, but I do know what being rejected feels like. But the rejection letters make me feel that at least I have evidence that I'm trying. I like reading all the different advice on writing, though, because it helps me figure out what works for me and what doesn't, like you said.

  8. I totally laughed out loud reading this post. Such a perfect analogy for probably more writers than want to admit it. Thanks Natalie!

  9. Amen to this, Natalie!! Writing/publishing can be rewarding and discouraging. Thanks for your honesty.

  10. Ah, man, I keep finding good blog articles today. Thanks! This lifted my sagging spirits :)