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  • Writer's pictureRandy Overbeck

The Hardest Thing Being a Writer?

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

 

            At one of my recent speaking engagements, I was asked this question and I had to pause a bit before answering. For a few seconds, I was tongue-tied—I know, unusual for me. Several thoughts marched lock-step through my brain.




I could’ve offered the rejections of my work from agents and editors with lines like “This work doesn’t fit our portfolio” or “I don’t know how I would market this” or the killer, “Your work is well written and interesting but I’m just not passionate about it.” Somewhere in the bowels of my computer, I have a collection of these rejections and, every time I look at them again, each one stabs me in my creative heart all over again.

 

            Or I could easily succumb to the ever present complaint about marketing, or lack of it. Today, it is never enough to be a good writer, or even a great writer. No, in 2024, an author must be equal parts writer, marketer, promoter and social media guru.


It is not enough to write a mesmerizing piece of fiction, or even the next great American novel. As soon as an author completes it, he or she must then direct an immense amount of effort to get it noticed among the multitude of titles published. This is a difficulty that Charles Dickens didn’t have; it’s a proverbial hill Ian Fleming or Tom Clancy never had to climb. It's easy to fall into the trap of complaining why authors today have to deal with all this.

 

            Still, other writers might say the hardest part is having to redo, revise and re-edit their work, over and over again. Any author who is realistic recognizes the importance of rewriting and polishing their work. Almost no one gets the manuscript right on the first go through—though we would hope this improves with practice and experience. Still, doing another careful read through and finding yet more errors or a better way to phrase a particular point can be disheartening to say the least. The little voice in the back of our heads ask, “Are you sure this is the best you can do?”

 

            Then there’s the waiting.



Once I finish a manuscript, really finish, after multiple rounds of edits and revisions and even a thorough professional editing, once I send it in to the publisher and editor, the clock seems to stop. It can take forever to get a response back from an agent or from your editor. Even once everything is complete and the final manuscript is approved and accepted, the time to the release date sometimes seems to crawl in slow motion.



But, then patience is not a virtue I possess in abundance.

 

            But for me, the most challenging part of being an author is coping with the anxiety and self-doubt. It is far too easy to second guess oneself. Will anyone want to read my work? Will readers connect with my writing? Will they enjoy the whodunit puzzle? Even after several successful published novels—thus far, I’ve had five novels released, earned twelve national awards and even had two books reach #1 and #2 bestselling status on Amazon and B & N—even that success does not alleviate my anxiety.



Now it is, will my next book make it? Will readers find the new release equal or better to their favorite? It does help some to know that, as I’ve researched other, far more successful authors for my podcast, I’ve discovered many of them have similar concerns. It helps but doesn’t make the self-doubt disappear.

 

So why do it? Why would I put myself through all this? The simple answer is I love it.

I love creating characters out of thin air, inventing intriguing mystery puzzles, crafting descriptions of towns and beaches and forests so real, readers can get lost in them. Or at least end up adding the destination to their travel list. I love imagining, then giving life to stories readers want to read. When readers call my novel “an electrifying narrative from the opening pages” (Cruel Lessons) or write the story was “thrilling, haunting, convincing,” (Crimson at Cape May) my self-doubt shrivels.



When they write “a story I didn’t want to put down for annoying things like needing to sleep” (Blood on the Chesapeake) or “Readers will stay on the edge of their seats through their page-turning journey right until the book’s riveting conclusion” (Scarlet at Crystal River) or even, “the uncertainty, the twists kept me going back for more” (Cruel Lessons), it makes it all worthwhile. I once again resolve to keep going.



 

Now if you excuse me, I have to get back to the fourth entry in the Haunted Shores Mysteries. Where was I? Of yeah, chapter 22.

 

           

2 opmerkingen


Meryl Tobin
Meryl Tobin
21 mei

Thank you, Randy. You describe many of the emotions many writers go through. Maybe it’s why such writers are so empathetic––they feel deeply about things. They put themselves out there to be judged, so they can feel for others who are judged. Those with big egos and big egos alone to offer will not put in the huge effort most writers put in to get published.   Meryl Brown Tobin, romantic suspense author

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maryannjacobsauthor
20 mei

Randy, I think you can toss the anxiety in the slush pile. Your books are great, immersing readers in amazing mysteries, and you are a wonderful marketer.

Mary Ann Jacobs Berkshire Mystery Series

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