"Nobody gets it. I'm the only writer in my family. And I feel alone." - this episode of Horrible Writing.
Welcome to Horrible Writing. The rawest, most candid, in your face writing show on the interwebs, because none of us have time to suck. Let's do this.
Hey everybody. Paul Sating - host of Horrible Writing, episode 96. How are you all doing? I hope this finds you well.
We get it. Most of us get it. Those of you who have been writing for a while understand what it's like because you've probably come across people - and/or lived through it yourself - who don't have the support network that you need to be successful in your writing.
Now when it comes to writing, we all have different goals and ambitions. Some of us (i.e., me) treat this very much like a business. Others of us don't. This is a passion. This is fun. This is something we do when the kids are asleep, or nobody's awake for the day yet - whatever it may be. But I'm not interested in doing all this other stuff. And then everybody in between.
The fact is though, as writers, people aren't going to get you. They don't understand it. What's the deal?
Why do I feel like a Jerry Seinfield joke is coming?
But grown-ups sitting around making up stories. Or maybe you're not a fiction writer, and you're a memoirist, and they don't get why you would want to take about your life. Who are you to talk about your life? What have you accomplished? Or why are you talking about your parents? That's not public business - whatever it may be.
A lot of people still have very toxic attitudes about what it means to be a writer. And it may not be obvious. It's real easy to take the Hollywood moment and show the struggling/frustrated writer pounding away on the keyboard in a room off to the side - with kids zooming around them, chasing each other, screaming, throwing spaghetti in each others' hair. The spouse is in the front yard talking to neighbors and then comes into the house and asks the writer what have they accomplished, right? It's real easy to lose a train on that Hollywood moment. And were not here for that.
In reality, there's people who don't get you. They don't understand why you're doing it. You need to spend more time or pay more attention to the family. Or, "No, we can't afford that writer conference." "Why are you getting up?" "What are you doing on the internet?" - even though you're not on the internet. You're just writing. And/or, "No, I'm not going to read your stuff." All these things can happen inside of a home, between apparently supposedly loving people, and it's toxic. It's not good for a writer to exist in a situation like that: to not be able to lean on the important people in their lives. They don't do those small things for you in terms of support.
And that's why all of you need to ensure your part of a support network. That you have a support network. That can take many forms and fashions. So no, this is not me trying to push you to the Horrible Writing Writer's Support Group on Facebook. Why aren't you there yet? This is about doing right by you - you doing right by you. What would it take?
So for some people, that could be a single close friend who you can just spill everything too and who gets you. They understand where you're coming from, who you are, and what you need, and why you need it. Even if they themselves think it's silly to write stories as an adult. It's very feasible.
However, it can come in other, more supportive ways as well. It can be a mixture of elements as well. It could be that true friend who allows you to vent your frustrations over a cup of coffee. But it also can be connecting with those people who you've never met - online - who just get it. They understand the struggle. They know when to say the right kind of thing to you because they've been there themselves. And there's something to be said for that appreciation.
You know, for people outside of what we do, they've got jobs, and they've got bills to pay. And kids and families and life, right? Life. And to them, a plot point blockage, a problem with your plot, a character that you need to kill which means you need to add at least two more months to your editing (not that I'm talking about me - I am). Right? To people with jobs in real life - stressed- they don't care about that. They don't see what the big deal is. It's just a story. It's just a book. Relax. No big deal.
We don't need to hear those things as writers. We don't need people propping us up with lies. The lie sticks. The lie easel doesn't help. Put us on display. "Look how awesome you are today - whooo!" That doesn't help either. But it does help to be able to commiserate with people who actually get it. And you know they get it because they say the right things in return instead of, "I'm sorry." That's shallow. And that's fine for people in your life who don't get it.
But if you want to sustain as a writer, you want to write year after year through the highs and the lows; you need to be around people who get it. And you need to have that established before you need them. That's the key. If they aren't there in one of those valleys, we might lose you forever. So we've got to do the work upfront. We've got to find the people.
For me, I am very fortunate. I have people personally in my life who are involved. My wife listens to me rant about my stories when I'm frustrated and want to burn the bridges behind me on them. She comes up with great suggestions. She comes up with - to this day, one of the cleverest story titles in 12 Deaths of Christmas (my horror anthology I published in 2018). One of the stories I could not find the right title. And basically, that book is full of horror stories. So if you're not into horror, I'd love you to support me - go buy it for a friend or family member who likes horror. But stay away from it if you don't like horror because it's definitely horror. But I took Christmas songs - Christmas songs titles - and I twist them to have a horror bent to them. But one of them wasn't working. And that's when she came up with Three Wives Men. It was really clever title. And she just does that at the drop of a hat. She's involved.
She's not like one of my favorites - Steven King: where Tabitha reads everything (is the alpha reader and the editor) - not to that extreme. But she does get involved. She does read my stuff. And she does give me feedback. And she's actually getting better at the feedback she gives me. Then I have friends. Every time I need a sanity check, I need an early reader on stuff, I've got friends who jump up and volunteer for that stuff. I've got a local writing group that I physically go to once a week, so I see other writers in-person- human beings. We laugh. We get frustrated. We give each other advice. Very helpful.
So I have all those real-life contact - quality support network people. But at the same time, my aperture would still be very narrow if that's all I had, which is why I have a few online communities. Most of them restricted to Facebook because I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of Reddit. I love Reddit, but it's dangerous for me. I'll never come back out, so I stay away, right? Eye on the prize. Stay focused on creating more stories. On Twitter, I just don't see the utility in it. It's just a toxic place - echochamber type of negativity. Nobody's popular on Twitter unless they're negative. I just don't need it, so I stay away from it. But I've got those communities on Facebook where I can pop in, check recent posts, interact with people, get out before the toxicity affects me, my mental health, and my ability to tell stories. And it does so quite well.
And it's nice to meet people all around the world. There's a couple people in that Horrible Writers support group (why aren't you there yet if your not?) who are from Australia. NJ Boyer- the genius behind The Stories We Tell Podcast is out there. All the way out there- Australia. And it's really cool to make those connections. And if you don't think you can make deep connections with people online, I'm gonna throw a little Paul advice at you. It's you. Because you can. You have to be willing to, though. And they are the ones who have that distance. So the family's too close. The local writing group that I go to, we see each other in person, and that always changes the dynamic. We're helpful, but it's still isn't sometimes as raw as it needs to be. Though this group is the best writing group I've ever seen.
So the online group - it's not like their only purpose is that - but the online groups will let you know if something sucks, and they'll let you know right to your face. And that's what you need as a writer. You need the people who get it when you are super stressed about a deadline, or a plot problem, or if you believe you have writer's block. I don't believe in writer's block. But they'll be the ones there who understand it. And they'll say the right things, and they'll support you through that. Having the knowledge that you have this dimensional relationship from the in-person to the digital is what keeps you propped up when the potholes in the writing life start really jacking up the alignment on the writing vehicle that you are driving. Slowing you down, throwing you off course. Or snapping that axle and making you dead on the road. Right? That vehicle isn't going anywhere.
You can't do this alone. Writing is a lonely venture, but it's not an alone venture. You have to do this. You have to be proactive. Stop spending time on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook with impersonal interactions, and invest that time - at least a good portion of it - developing those deeper writing relationships that support network relationship of people who get your writing, and writing in general. Yes, even with strangers.
"But Paul, my personal relationships are important." Yes, and they should be. Because there are more important things in life than writing. However- comma dash- if you want to be in this for the long haul, if you want to make this a career, if this is what you want to do full time, you have to plan. And you have to take deliberate steps to achieve that. So if you want to do this for a long time, if you want to make a living at this, one of the elements is you have to have a support network. And a support network has to be people who get it. On varying levels, but on some level, they have to get it.
So what are you doing? What kind of steps have you taken? How much have you invested in building and cultivating and developing deeper relationships with a writing support network compared to socializing, screwing off, scrolling, Twitter debating, right? Where is your priority? Where are you putting the work? Because where your time goes is your priority. You can't say writing's very important, and then you spend ten hours on social media, and five minutes in a writers group. You can't. It's all about behaviors. So where are you? Do that self-analysis. Let me know. And I would like to hear from you as well. Send those emails to me: Paulsatingproductions@gmail.com. You can also find it at paulsating.com and just go click on the contact tab. But I would like to hear those stories.
Lately, I've been getting more and more emails from early listeners of this show - when I thought I was just broadcasting to myself - who are letting me know how their writing journey is going. And it's really cool to see that. It's really cool to see that. It's really cool to see people really coming along with their writing. It's also very cool to see people achieving. It's absolutely amazing to see people achieving. I love getting those kind of messages from people that they're coming along. They're actually out there, and they are publishing. Or they are in the process of publishing. Or they started a podcast. A lot of these folks - guess where you're seeing them? That's right, you're seeing them coming from novel idea to podcast. How to sell more books through podcasting. So that's really cool. If you haven't checked that out, make sure you do.
If you're interested in publishing, one of the things that you can do to help yourself understand how you can find a greater audience is by checking out that book and seeing if it could be helpful to you. Of course, if that is helpful to you, be helpful to me. Go over to your podcatcher - wherever you listen to this - and leave a rating and review for this show. Those of you who use Apple - iTunes - whatever you call it, let's get those rating in now before they take this away and do who knows what with it. The ratings are great. They're awesome. All five stars, which is awesome. But there's just not enough of them. So I would love to get more of those as well. The last review this show got was in April. It's time for a new reviewer. So let me know how the show is going. Let me know what you like. Let others know. It helps other writers know this show is worth their download and their time.
If you are enjoying it, of course, do those things. You can also, for $1 a month, support the show to make sure it continues on: patreon.com/paulsating. You get this show early, sometimes with exclusive content. You get my medieval epic fantasy every time an episode's released - the only audience that gets it. You get all kinds of behind the scenes stuff and stories. Matter of fact, last month in June the patreons got the first chapter of RIP - my next novel. So cool on them, right? They've already got it and already have an idea of what the story is. These are things that go out to the wonderful people who help me pull all this stuff off. And there's a lot of stuff. Trust me. And they get longer episodes of The Stories We Tell - with more stuff coming in the future. Believe it or not, we only have a couple more episodes until we hit the triple digits. I am excited. So stay excited with me. All the way through to episode one hundred. Until then, keep being epic.
This has been Horrible Writing and hopeful before this episode you suck less than you did at the beginning. I am Paul Sating: your host extraordinaire. You can find me over on the Twitter-verse @writinghorrible and over at paulsaing.com/horrible-writing. Until next time, suck less.
Transcription by Renzee Lee over at Renzee Lee Freelancing. For fast turn around times on content writing, transcription, and editing services email Renzee at email@example.com
Originally Posted: August 2019