Lessons for a Writing Life

One of my friends in writing is having trouble finding an agent. They like her writing very much, but they say the market is difficult and they just can’t take a risk on someone new at the moment. This must be really tough to hear – that you’re good but circumstances beyond your control are conspiring to prevent you from being published. I told her to keep going – that the writing’s the thing. That if she can afford to, to give herself some more time and maybe work on a new book, a book that she HAS to write, more than anything else in the world. A book that means so much to her that she can’t not write it.

She’s so close but it would be so easy to give up at this stage. But I have every confidence that she’ll keep writing, because she is a true book lover and adores the writing life.

If you are in a similar situation, hang in there. Keep writing – don’t stop. Even if you have to write at night or early in the morning or in snatched work breaks, you are still a writer.

I’m not usually one for chain email type things, but one struck a chord with me this week. It’s by a 90 year old woman from Ohio called Regina Brett and was originally one of her newspaper columns. As I read it, I realised how many of her maxims for life were relevant to a writing life. So I’ve updated some of them. My additions are the ones underneath Regina’s lines.

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX

Life Lessons Lessons for a Writing Life

Life isn't fair, but it's still good. Publishing isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

When in doubt, just take the next small step. When in doubt, just keep writing.

Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Life is too short to waste time worrying about other writers and how brilliant/critically acclaimed/famous/rich they are.

You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree. You won’t always agree with your editor or agent – pick your battles.

Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck. Save when you can. Writing is a precarious business.

When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile. Nothing I can add there!

Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present. Use your regrets and mistakes to fuel your books. It’s all material.

Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. Don’t compare your writing or publishing career to others. You have no idea how many unpublished manuscripts are sitting under their beds.

When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer. Amen to that.

Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special. Give it all away, every day. Don’t save a brilliant idea for another book. Use it, right now.

Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now. Show up to the page, every day, and write with passion.

Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere. Walking is a great way to start a writing day – get outside – ideas are everywhere.

All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. (And that you wrote!)