Don’t let anyone fool you. Writing is not the easiest way to make a living.
Whether you’re chipping away at the next great American novel, hustling features and op eds for the regional mags, or hopping on the content marketing bandwagon, even your best days usually include some amount of grunt work and drudgery. As my witty friend Heidi is fond of saying, “We’re just toiling away in the word mines.”
Indeed, Heidi, indeed.
And there’s only one thing that can brighten your darkest hour, down there in the bowels of the word mines – only one thing that can save you after you’ve spent a day slogging through the fifth round of revisions because your client or editor “just isn’t feeling it” … only one thing that can bring your writer’s heart back to life after it’s been put through the wringer by a hard day at the keyboard with no measure of external gratitude or even acknowledgement … only one thing that can make you smile in spite of the lamentable state of the English language and the fools who seem intent on murdering it each day – over and over again
One thing. The smart writer’s secret weapon: Writer friends.
Because misery loves company, and miserable writers are actually a riot.
Because all writers are a little crazy, and crazy likes crazy.
Because the world may not always smile with you, but another writer will always snicker with you.
As I type this, it’s 11:27 PM. I was up until 1AM last night writing a feature article for my local paper. I am tired and punchy and a little cranky. I didn’t get to all my deadlines today, which means when I wake up tomorrow I will have to face the same legion of spiteful, gloating demons who were waiting for me at my desk this morning. I hate that.
I’ve been a card-carrying, word-wrangling ink slinger for going on six years now. I’ve done all kinds of work for all kinds of people. I’ve cleared many a hurdle (with a modicum of grace), but I have also spent way too many sleepless nights crawling towards the finish line, begging for mercy. As a freelancer, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of being my own boss and the annoyance of having to chase clients for money. I’ve felt the high of a job well done and the low of being triple booked and having nowhere to hide. I’ve been up and down and sideways. I’ve been inside out and upside down.
But, I’ve never been alone.
Nope. I will never end up a sad, writer stereotype – frittering my life away in a windowless garret with my fingerless gloves, fifth of scotch, and a Dickensian oil lamp. You know why not? Because I have writer friends. I have writer friends who lift me up out of the darkness and make me laugh. I have writer friends who can make the hours between 10PM and midnight a joy … even if I’m working. I have writer friends who feel my pain and help me celebrate my joy … who never judge, and who always (always!) have my back.
Writing is often called a “solitary pursuit.” Poppycock. Sure, only you can put fingers to keyboard or pull the pen across the page, but you don’t have to go it alone. Though each of us has a unique and individual journey ahead, there’s no reason we can’t travel the road side-by-side. Don’t you think a little writerly camaraderie would make the trip that much more enjoyable?
It does and it always will.
So, if you don’t have some already, go out and find yourself some writer friends. They can be “real life” friends or Facebook friends or anything in between. Just find them. Reach out and connect. Share stories. Share successes. Share hopes and fears and secrets and jokes. Support each other. Be kind to each other. Teach each other. Enjoy each other
With writer friends, you are invincible. There will never be a darkness deep enough to keep your spirit down.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.