Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Other Thoughts on Psychological Survival

The advantage of writing a detailed synopsis -- or merely plotting ahead -- is, if you know where the story is going, you can force yourself to keep writing, even when you don't feel like it. If you don't know where the story is going, it can be difficult to write through resistance.

I don't believe in writer's block, because I feel you are giving power to the problem by giving it this name. In my experience, it's possible to keeping writing, even if you don't want to. (This is a personal response. If someone else feels writer's block is a real thing, I can only defer to her knowledge of herself.) Plotting ahead makes it far easier to keep working, and writers usually feel better when they are writing. So one key element of psychological survival is to keep writing.

The one thing a writer can control is writing. So this is the thing to focus on. Several people on the panel said promotion and marketing are a waste of time. I know it's common wisdom these days that writers need to self-promote. I'm not good at it and don't like it. I keep this blog, so that people can find me on the Internet. I could do the same with an up-to-date website, but I haven't done that yet.

I do facebook because I enjoy it. I like cat photos. I like the latest stories from NASA. I like kidding around. I do some pushing of my work, but mostly I hang out and chat. My sense is, the contacts made through facebook are somewhat useful. But I do it because I enjoy it. Facebook is also can be a huge waste of time. So if you do it, pay attention to the time.

For me, community is important, which is a reason for facebook -- and going to cons -- and belonging to two writing groups. I like knowing other writers and editors and critics and readers. I get help information and emotional support, and I find SFF people fun and interesting.

There are two parts of psychological survival. One is do the best job you can as a writer. The other is dealing with the emotional effects of setbacks. That's where you get to ordinary self-care. Eat well. Exercise. Seek help if you are feeling really down. There is some evidence that writers and artists are more subject to mood disorders than (say) scientists. The studies are too small to be anything except suggestive. However writing can be a very up and down life. The highs are fantastic. The lows can be severe. It makes sense that writers might be moody.

I guess that's the only advice I have: write and take care of yourself -- and realize that the writing life can be difficult.


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