A Writer’s Problems Aren’t Unique

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I often mentor other authors as I’ve been self-publishing for over a decade and writing professionally and non for much longer. Often it seems they have the same problems over and over again. We all know the drill – writer’s block, fear of failure, formatting, etc. When you mentor, it seems you’re stuck in a time warp, and you’re too tired to make Rocky Horror jokes.

Sometimes I find this frustrating, and I know other authors experience this as well. We’d love to see a unique problem, thank you. We’re done with issues of capitalizing titles and line spacing – can we get something new?

This frustration misses an important point.  We see the same problem repeatedly, but for that individual author, the experience is unique. It is their writer’s block, their insecurity, and so on. What has become abstract to us is painfully personal to them.

Realizing this can help us get over “writer problem boredom.” We can understand the personal experiences of writers having the same crisis we’ve seen before. We can understand the visceral issues someone is having, even if we watched fifty other people have the same problem. Our advice can be customized (and sometimes is more about the person getting other life problems solved).

This also means we can tell the people we mentor that they’re not alone. They’re going through what others have gone through before. There are resources to help them because these problems are so common. Help is not only on its way, it’s arrived and set up shop online and in your library.

Finally, when we tell writers their problems are common, it’s a sign to keep going. Their issues have bedeviled others, others who have solved the problems. The key is to keep going.

Maybe, once they’re over their blocks, they can guide other people as well. With our insights, maybe they’ll be less frustrated.

Steven Savage