The Real, REAL Writer’s Life

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The writer’s life is a topic I’ve been mulling for the last little while. There were actually times I was afraid to ‘go there’ for fear of writing something that would turn out to be a ‘downer’. Most people like to read uplifting, encouraging posts, right? But for those of you who know me, my blog, or my writing, I like to be as real as I can and that includes the reality of the ups and down of walking the writer’s road. So, throwing caution to the wind, let’s get started with a something I’m calling the Get Your Damn Head on Straight and See Things the Way They Really Are Phases—ok, not really but the title made me laugh. 🙂

The High:

You’re writing like mad. Joining every social media group known to man, reading ‘how-to’ article after article, joining writing support groups, submitting to contests, submitting to magazines—you’re pumped, excited and doing everything just right. Yes! Maybe you find success in a contest or a magazine likes a story and publishes it, your social media network is splitting at the seams. Finally! After all the daydreaming about ‘making it’ you’re on your way!

The Plateau:

Things are still going well. Your energy is holding, you’re coasting along, still doing all the right things. But…the doors are not opening as fast as you’d like for all the effort you’ve put in, and you begin to notice that other aspects of your life are suffering because of it. A little voice starts to whisper in your ear: ‘Is this really going to work? Is it worth the sacrifice? What more do I have to give up in order to gain success?’

The Bummer:

You are tired. No, darn it, you’re worn out. You’ve exhausted your bag of magic tricks and nothing seems to be gaining the success you hoped for. Or, you realize that it will take a lot more time, energy and money than you had planned to gain it. Through the cracks in your Picture of Ultimate Writing Success, your Life continues to force its way in, muddying it up…and you finally accept that you don’t have the time, energy or money you need, anyway.


 What happens to the Dream then?

This hellish place of self-evaluation and doubt is one of the most important places a writer can come to, IMO. It’s where we find out what drives us and what we are made of. We’re finally seeing things clearly: the shiny veneer is shredded away and we are staring at the horrible picture of our Dreams at the mercy of the Black Hole ready to consume it. What do you do?

Darned if I know! But I’m in the Bummer Phase. Those who have read my past posts have followed me through the highs, the challenges, the successes as well as the dips in motivation and drive. The writer’s life is a sick a roller-coaster! But I’ve gained so many important lessons throughout it all and that’s really the point of sharing these posts; I hope to encourage others out there who are also wading through the valley of despair, of frustration, or whatever you want to call it.

There are few direct roads to success when it comes to writing. There are some fabulous stories out there, for sure, but for the most part, many great writers never make it past their blogs, reading groups or family and friends circles. That’s not to depress you, but to show how committed and focused and driven you have to be to persevere through the hard times.

Being a writer can also mess with our real lives. Not only can doubt, insecurity, and fear of failure affect our success but even good things, like our families or jobs can potentially interfere. Last week, for example, I stopped to look at my family, and I realized that more than being a great and famous writer, I wanted to be a great mother. I realized I liked my job and that the thought of scavenging for freelance writing jobs or wallowing my days on LinkedIn and Twitter made me want to bash my head against the wall. I also realized that no matter how much I put in, it might not always produce equal or better results—worse, that there was always someone else out there more driven and focused than I am, so where would that leave me?


Well, I asked the question so here are a couple of tips to help deal with this Bummer Phase:

Redefining success: By setting smaller, achievable goals and building your confidence and success over time, this could help bolster you in the moments when that ultimate goal seems so out of reach.

Find pleasure and meaning in the things that are already going right: I posted an author interview today and the response was great. Hearing the positive feedback from the interviewee and knowing that she was happy with it, seeing the enthusiasm it generated in other readers was a massive encouragement. It also reminded me that being a writer isn’t only about me—helping others is as important and as it is rewarding. Sometimes we have to know how to move back and forth between goals while enjoying just being ‘in the moment.’

I spent these last few weeks asking myself hard questions. What do I really want out of this? Why do I write? How do I measure success? How much can I give to maintain balance in my life and still feel I’m working towards my goal? In order to answer them I might have to rearrange my priorities or even let some things go. But I think these are all important questions we all have to consider—and answer–if we want to maintain a healthy attitude as we strive for success .

How about you? Any have experiences to share? Have you been in the Bummer Phase before and how did you climb out? I’d love to hear from you!

18 thoughts on “The Real, REAL Writer’s Life

  1. I float back and forth through all these stages. The bottom line- I enjoying writing, so I write, regardless of the number of books sold or acceptance. One the plus side- without the pressure of the deadlines of others, I take a weekend and play if I need to or want to. I’ll be back at it on Monday because I’m a writier, it’s what I do. Great Post!


    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks! And thanks also for commenting. 🙂 You’ve got the right attitude and it’s what I want to get back to. What do you write, BTW?


  2. Your last paragraph nails it… You define your goals and your success. If your goal is to be an NYT Best Seller, that’s far different than just writing for yourself or friends, and a completely different path to get there. The better you have answered those questions, then better you’ll be able to guide yourself to those answers.


  3. I’m climbing out of it now, though there was a massive Bummer Phase for me last year, around Oct-Nov (you might have noticed me drop off the proverbial planet lol).

    I want to be a Great Writer. I want my books to be a legacy to my soul, my spirit, and my purpose on this earth. I want to change lives; for the world to better just for me having been in it; I want to die with no regrets.

    And so, there is more to my life & my being than my writing. I am a writer, teacher, artist, and a shining light to others. This realisation has given my writing clarity and my practice strength. it has nothing to with other people who may be more talented, more driven, or simply more fortunate than I – it is about the messages I believe the world needs to hear.

    I create positive change in the world.
    I share my light and energy with others.
    I am open to improvement of my self and my craft.
    I embrace change and uncertainty, and live fully in the present moment.

    These are the affirmations – the forward movements, if you like – that came out of my Bummer Phase.


    1. That’s what I hope people take away from this–Bummer Phases aren’t necessarily bad. A lot of good can come from them if we process them right and are open and honest with ourselves. I’m really glad you found your calling, Zee. Thanks for your comments and I hope you see your dreams through to fruition. 🙂


  4. I seem to be constantly in the bummer phase. But writing always makes me feel better, no matter the results. Yeah it is a bit of a roller coaster, but I love the thrill of the ride all the same.


    1. Nothing wrong with that as far as I can tell–your love of writing pulls you through, which to me indicates you know why you’re doing it and it feeds you in return. Thanks for sharing!


  5. Oh Dyane I just love all of your posts. I honestly find the more “real” ones to be the most inspiring, because it helps to know you’re not alone. And I also love the part about redefining success. I think people tend to set huge goals and then become bummed out when they don’t reach them. It’s good to dream big, but setting goals, in my opinion should be realistic and in steps in order to maintain sanity. Plus, just enjoying the process helps, I’ve found. Rather than be discouraged if I don’t meet certain goals, I’ve decided that I’m going to just enjoy what I am doing and have done so far. And sometimes taking a breath and enjoying the REAL life (kids, friends, etc), leads me to more inspiration and determination. Wonderful post, and I root for you all the time!


    1. Hi Nicki, thanks! I’m glad to know that my instinct was right–being honest about the ups and down of this journey can help encourage or motivate someone else. 🙂 You’ve got a great attitude about it and I’m excited to see what you’ve been so busily working on–hint! hint!


  6. Life can be a bummer. No one goes throw life floating on air, no matter how talented, rich or attractive you are. It’s important to have perspective and keep things real. You are not alone on the bummer rollercoaster. One of my favourite quotes … “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.” Success is measured in many different ways and we all draw happiness from different things.


    1. Glad you were able to take something useful away from it, Katie. 🙂 Keep forging ahead! You know there are lots of people hoping for your success 🙂


  7. This is so relate-able. I am going to read this one over and over every time I need to commiserate and celebrate the putting words together phenomena that is writing. Write on, Dyane, write on!


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