A few years ago, in 2015, I hit a wall with writing. I had just given birth to my son a few months before, I was completely exhausted all the time, and I had been querying on multiple novels for years, with no success. I had done everything I thought I was supposed to do. Joined and founded writing groups, worked with beta readers, steeled myself through harsh critique, edited and revised my manuscripts until it felt like my eyes were going to bleed, and still…nothing.
I felt like a complete failure.
Today’s guest post is from Phillip McCollum, who many of you might remember as the author of The Pros and Cons of Being an INTJ Writer. Phillip has been blowing my mind for the past year as he’s written a new short story EVERY WEEK for 52 WEEKS. Today’s post is all about what the process taught him and how it helped him become a better writer.
52 short stories in 52 weeks?
It wasn’t going to work. I just knew it. It would be a colossal waste of time and I would be stuck in the same damn rut 52 weeks from now–a hard drive filled with innumerable half-starts and unfinished tales.
First of all, I wanted to write novels. Short stories were OK, but they weren’t novels. I’d been indoctrinated by countless ‘writing experts’ that the two styles were as different as house cats and narwhals and if you wanted to do one of them, you should absolutely, without a doubt, completely ignore the other.
In all my years of coaching, I’ve run into a definite pattern with INFJ and INFP artists and writers. It seems that most of us don’t decide to pursue our true calling until later in life. Usually, it’s after 40. Now, this doesn’t mean that we don’t feel the stirrings of inspiration or the pull to create long before then, but it’s not usually until we’re entering the latter half of life that we make the conscious decision to take the plunge and just do it, whatever “it” may be.
Why does it take us so long? Is it true that most INFJ and INFP personality types are just late bloomers and need more time than the rest of the population to figure out what they really want to do in life?
Yesterday I typed those two little words every writer dreams of when we’re in the middle of a WIP…The End. I finally finished the novel I’ve been feverishly working on for the past seven months. For me, seven months is a record-breaking length of time to write a novel, but with this one, I just couldn’t help it. It was one of those novels that forced me to drop everything and write it, whether I wanted to or not.
You would think I would feel happy. You would think I would be out celebrating. But, I feel the exact opposite. Now that the book is out of me (the sloppy first draft anyway) and I know the entire story of my characters, I kind of feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest.
Usually when we think about “book marketing” we think of glitzy ad campaigns or nuking everyone on social media with relentless messages to “buy my book!” This is a huge turn-off for most writers. We’ve spent months, possibly years, working on a story that is so personally meaningful to us that it’s even hard to describe it succinctly to other people without getting tangled up in words and emotion.
And now we’re supposed to push it onto total strangers using a catchy (or cheesy) hook?
Um, no thanks.