Different Yet the Same by Steph Beth Nickel

Whether we write full-time or simply devote a couple of hours a week to our craft, we are more than simply writers. We’re husbands and wives, students and teachers, executives and factory workers, income earners and volunteers, young adults and retirees. No stereotype will fit, but we do have many things in common.

It is our goal to communicate with the written word.

That said, the only person we may be seeking to communicate with is ourselves. I refer to journaling as “rambling until I stumble across truth.” It is that truth that affects my communication with others—hopefully not the rambling.

In addition, I stay focused in prayer much better if I’m either praying with others or writing in my prayer journal. In that case, I am communicating intentionally with God. (Truth be told, I often stumble across truth as I compose my prayers as well.)

And yes, most if not all of us are seeking to communicate with others. May we do so ever more skillfully and effectively?

There is always more to learn.

I have shelves and shelves, both physical and virtual, of books to be read. Many of them fall in the writing skills development category. And each year, the list of available books and blogs grows by dozens, if not hundreds or thousands.

We can never know it all. (Plus, “the rules” are always changing. And yes, I realize I may have to duck the tomatoes being thrown by the purists reading this post.)

We can’t stop writing until we feel we’ve accumulated enough knowledge, but we must continue to hone our craft.

We feel rejection deeply.

We may approach rejection with our shoulders back and our head held high. We may accept constructive criticism graciously and seek to apply what we learn from it. However, no matter how mature and how professional we are . . . rejection stings. We must factor that reality into the cost of pursuing written communication.

Even though we have much to learn and even though our readers may have valid concerns, we each have a slightly—or vastly—different idea of what constitutes good writing and what constitutes bad writing. (Even editors don’t agree.)

Apply what you know to be good advice—or have heard from several sources. Be willing to change those things that don’t truly matter one way or the other. And learn when it’s appropriate to stand your ground—which, in reality, will likely lead to further rejection.

Rejection comes in many forms.

Most of us are familiar with the statement, “Your work does not fit our publishing needs at this time.” We may even have experienced that infinite silence that convinces us an agent or editor is not interested in our work. (The truth is they simply may be backed up with submissions. Don’t lose heart. Be patient.)

There are other forms of rejection, as well.

“When is your book coming out?”

“What have you written that I may have read?”

“You write that kind of book (article, blog post, etc.) ?”

“Hey, can you help me with this. You’re not busy; you’re just writing.”

As writers, we must be there for one another, for only we can truly understand that these statements have the potential to sting as much as a bad review.

We must learn the fine art of balance.

Some highly organized writers devote specific hours each day to their craft. Kudos! (And I truly mean that.)

However, this isn’t the case for most of us. We’re juggling the aforementioned responsibilities and, too often, getting waylaid by the unexpected. Life happens.

And then there is the issue of priorities. As much as we love to write, there are responsibilities that have to take precedence over our craft. (For example, my hubby turns 60 next week and our family is coming for a visit. Guess who won’t be near her computer for ten days.) The real challenge is to recognize that writing is serious business and we must not rate everything higher on our list of priorities or we will never get our words “out there.”

Let’s revel in our differences and our similarities. There is so much we can learn from one another.

Profile Pic (small)Steph Beth Nickel is the coauthor of Paralympian Deborah L. Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books. Among other things, Steph is a freelance writer and editor. You can connect with her at stephbethnickel@gmail.com … on her Facebook author page … or on Twitter (Image by Sarah Grace Photography)

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1 comment

  1. Pam Mytroen says:

    It’s good to know that we are all on the same team. We have much in common as writers and can be an encouragement to each other. (It’s also good to know that I’m not the only one who abandons my computer when family bounds through the door!)

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