A writer’s heart is a fragile thing. It beats hard, but is damaged easily.
By heart, I mean the thing that drives us to write, to put down the story buzzing in our heads. And that’s such a good thing, getting it down, working on it, tweaking and honing and making the words come out just right. It’s what a writer lives for, why he or she writes. The story.
But writers are by nature, insecure creatures. We fuss over our book babies, wondering if they are good enough. And to judge them we send them out into the world, to publishers, to be accepted or rejected. It can be soul crushing and kill the writer’s heart. A lot of writers are ground into dust under those cruel wheels, and never write again. Their deepest fears, that they stink as a writer, have been confirmed.
But the writers who ignore it, who keep writing, who don’t believe the rejections, for whatever reasons, those writers are made of stern stuff. They take a licking and keep on ticking. Driven by something inside, they keep going. Taking the shreds of rejections, looking for ways to improve, joining critique groups to receive even more rejection, then sending it back out. They hang in there, their writer’s heart hardened just a bit, and they keep writing. Keep submitting.
Sometimes they hit pay dirt – get an acceptance. And the fireworks go off. Crowds cheer. The heart dances!
Then the edits show up. What?? There are edits? To my baby? But I thought you loved it!
Yeah. Edits. And we go through it all over. Again, the writer’s heart is tested. We have to work with an editor who tells us, in several drafts, what is wrong with our baby, despite telling you they love the story. If you’re one of the strong ones, you cry and rant and bitch, then you make the changes. If not, you cry and rant and bitch, and then pull your baby out and give up the chance you had to be published. The heart is crushed.
So, let’s say you’re strong, make the changes. And it’s finally released. You’re excited! Thrilled! You’ve done it. The writer’s heart is soaring!
Then come the reviews. And it’s now the world, the readers and reviewers, telling you that your baby is ugly. Maybe not all the time, but it doesn’t take much to crush the heart. Strong hearts have learned something – this isn’t the end of the world.
Writing is subjective. Sometimes they get accepted. Sometimes not. Some people will love your book, others, not so much.
Those writers keep on writing. Because that’s why we’re here. To write the next story. And to refuse to let non-constructive criticism of their baby interfere with the next book.
Today the industry is changing. Some new writers are writing stories and completely avoiding all the heart crushing, heart building, experiences by self-publishing. Which, in a way, is a shame, because like our parents used to tell us when we failed, it’s a character building experience. All those steps between writing and publishing, the ones that toughen your heart, make you stronger as a writer, those are missed. And so, many new writers go in, expecting the best, and when the reviews, if they get reviews, are awful, they’re crushed. Their sales are non-existent. What happened to all the money they were supposed to make?? Why aren’t they rolling in cash and five star reviews?
Or course, writers who go through the publishing process experience the same things. Bad reviews and low sales. But maybe they’re a little more prepared for it. Maybe not. It depends on the writer. And the writer’s heart. It’s been tempered, like steel, to resist breaking.
But a writer’s heart can grow too hard. It can lose the spark, the joy of writing, chasing the reviews and the sales. Some go off the rails, pay for reviews or fake them, desperate for approval. We’ve all heard the stories. Writers get caught up in the game of being validated, by any means necessary.
Or get lost in the comparison game. Listening to other writers tell about their success, their money, their reviews. And then compare their results to the others, and usually find themselves lacking. And so goes the writer’s heart – crushed again. Unless they have learned not to play into the comparison game, and that’s hard as hell to do. Everyone does, it’s just how you let it affect you, that shows the strength of the writer’s heart.
And if a writer’s heart is crushed, so it that creativity, the spark, that something inside the writer that brings those stories to life. Self-doubts and fear can weight the heart down and stop the flow. Make a writer wonder if he or she should even keep writing.
Everyone goes through it. Everyone doubts their worth as a writer. It’s the strong ones who go on. Who keep writing.
A writer’s heart is a fragile thing, but with experiences that test and grow us, we can survive. We can keep writing, keep those stories coming, no matter which way we choose to publish them. As writers, we need to protect our hearts, learn to walk away from negativity, learn to take constructive criticism of our work and use it to grow as writers, know there are more opinions than there are books on Amazon, and not all of them will be good.
It’s all a matter of perspective. A writer’s heart can be strong, but only if we work at it.
What’s the condition of your writer’s heart?