What is enough?
The hardest part of being a writer is knowing what is enough.
Did I rewrite this enough? Did I describe that well enough? Did I do enough with that character to warrant their presence? Did I pay the editor enough (or too much)? Did I proof this enough? Did I write the story enough? Did I spend enough time with my significant other, kid, mom, dad, neighbor, best friend, book group, agent…
You get the idea. Until someone actually reads our work and provides feedback, we may never know the answer to many important questions in the process. So how can we ever know we did enough? or what is enough?
Other writers may have other questions about what they wonder was enough, but I bet they agree this is the big question that plagues us. I’ve thought about the question quite a bit. Why else would I write a blog about it, if I didn’t have enough to say?
Imposter syndrome manifests from the fear that you have not done enough to own the title you claim. For instance, one may think they haven’t all the credentials necessary–whether those are degrees or other accolades. They may think that they haven’t ranked a publishing credit in a particular way and thus they lack something to make their claim. They may feel they haven’t trained properly, or researched everything needed to write with authority.
The doubt that comes with this venture is crippling. Is your writing good enough to bother publishing? Rejection letters don’t help (please understand that a rejection letter doesn’t mean you are terrible). If you think it, though, you fear you’re disserving yourself by not listening. Then the reviews come and you get a terrible dressing down out the handful. Instead of looking at the handful that told you what you did right, you focus on the one that tells you what you didn’t get right. There it is: you didn’t do so many things well-enough. Oh, my gahd! The creeping self-doubt…
There are those who ask, do you write? And, if the answer is yes, they say that you are a writer. This isn’t always enough for writers. They need the acknowledgement of some officer of the industry who bestows such titles (publishing house, agent, other author they admire who has clout?). Yet, that person doesn’t actually exist. It’s the author who has to decide and choose what is enough!
Then, when we’ve found that we are writers after all this dithering, we realize we had not done enough celebrating. Did we honor that publication, regardless of how it came to being? Did we take a moment to take-in the fact that our project is completed and very real? How many titles with your name on the spine have to sit on a shelf before you will take the time to celebrate? Are you waiting for a specific time in which to have this celebration, and what will it follow? Will that be enough when the time comes? What if it doesn’t look exactly as you pictured it, and you miss it?
Writers struggle with spending enough time with their friends and family, as well. Try as we might to be present, there are deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise) that require attending. My blog doesn’t write itself. Posts are released every Monday and Friday. I have to sit at some point to write those posts. When I think about it, I feel like I’m robbing my family time to meet those deadlines, but while having family time, I fear that I am slacking off on my writing.
Can a writer win this balance? It’s very anxiety inducing, because both of these issues have very real world implications. If you don’t spend quality time with your family and friends, you can alienate them. If you don’t do ample work on your blog and projects, you will fail to meet your writing goals and deadlines. This could potentially throw your world into chaos.
The balancing act a writer must perform is a mental skill akin to that of a tight-rope walker. Not all of us are able to meet each goal. Is there ever enough time for all the items on your list and the people you need to be with? Can you ever measure up to the expectations of others let alone yourself?
Then you have other writers telling you that you must commit to writing every single day or you’re washed up. You have the advice suggesting that you should spend time reading to your children, or being truly present with them. You have your day-job with an allotted 8 or more hours per day, which you must spend time preparing for and decompressing from each day, adding a couple hours on for commute, too. That’s twelve hours not writing, and you still haven’t made dinner! When do you do your laundry? When do you take a bathroom break? Don’t forget to keep reading new books.
The hardest part of being a writer is finding the balance to get the things done that need be done with all of the demands on your time. There isn’t enough time. There is not right day to celebrate all the accomplishments you’ve made. If you write, you are definitely a writer.
The stress of choosing between things, delaying some while dropping others, is heavy on a writer’s shoulders. Maybe that’s why we slump a bit, not that we hover over keyboards all the time. The weight of wondering about was this enough is hard.
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