GBS: Top Five Scary Things About Being a Writer (And How to Conquer Them)

Photo by Stacey Graham. Those are all her books. On one shelf. In a book store!

Julie’s Note: It’s back from the dead … my blog and the Guest Blogger Series, that is.
Every now and then, I feature a guest writer, and this week, I’m so excited to feature my friend!
This post is for all those who WANT to write, but are too terrified to do so.
Take it from a horror writer … you can do it!


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By Stacey Graham

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]I[/dropcap] didn’t choose the writing life — it chose me. After five kids and countless hours of rhyming “sugar” with anything but “booger,” I needed something sassy. I was in my (very) late 30s and didn’t want to start a new career, but what could compete with wiping baby butts all day?

The complete and utter feeling of failure after I’d sent out my first few pitches, that’s what.

Yet, that’s when I knew I was in the game and so, it was on like Donkey Kong. A few years later, I had published four books and a dozen short stories, and in the process, I identified a few things. A few scary things.

Admittedly, after fifteen years of picking up questionable underwear off the floor, nothing could rattle me. Nevertheless, here are five scary truths about the world of being a mother who writes.

1. Deadlines: Think of it as the homework that never ends. While working on deadline, the house goes, your love life is kaput, and your kids start calling your neighbor “Mom.” He hates that. Take a deep breath, Febreeze the laundry room, and tackle what needs to be done first to get you to stop muttering under your breath. You get a break, and your dog will finally stop peeing in the corner.

2. Coming up with new and fabulous ideas: You’ve heard about keeping an idea file either in notebooks or a board on Pinterest, but you’re not quite sure if that’s for you. Try using the voice recorder on your smartphone, favorite something you see on social media to follow up on later, or take a good long walk to clear your mind. Inspiration can be fickle, so when it strikes, be ready with your method of choice and get crack-a-lackin’. Need more ideas? Go outside and talk to someone. It’ll improve your social life and you won’t be known as that weird mom who hides in her office anymore. Ready for something new? If fiction isn’t your bag, try nonfiction. Share your interests with a wide audience, and I promise you’ll love it.

3. What if nobody likes it other than my mom? Big deal. Move onto the next fear.

4. What if everybody loves it and I’m on the hook for more books? Congratulations! Though now the real work begins. Being a debut author is awesome: You haven’t effed up yet enough to make people doubt your sanity and drinking habits. However, after the shininess rubs off the first book or article, it’s back to you fighting off kids in your cone of silence and not shaving your legs for a few months. I’ve found my most creative time is when I’m a week away from submitting a book. Suddenly the sky opens up and I have a bounty of plum ideas begging for attention – but I’m still a week away from putting the book baby to bed. Take the seed of those ideas and plant them. Write a synopsis, write a first few paragraphs, make a mind-map, outline the story, email yourself photos of characters you’ve found online. Just get.it.down. When your agent comes a’knockin’, you can tell her you’ve already got a few peas in the pot.

5. Just hit send: The most exhilarating – and terrifying – moment comes right before you hit the send button. You’ve edited the heck out of the piece, gotten friends to check it for stray words and plot holes, and are sure that this time you’ll reach super star status – or at least overcome the embarrassment of sending an editor the racy photos you were saving for sexting your partner. It happens.

Scary? Yes. But you’ve got this. Now go wipe the peanut butter off your ass and head to that softball game with pride.

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About the author: Stacey Graham is a freelance editor and the author of Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Sculls, and Other Creepy Collectibles (Llewellyn); The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide (Sourcebooks Jabberywocky); the Zombie Tarot(Quirk); and The Boxcar Children’s Guide to Adventure: A How-To for Mystery Solving, Make-It-Yourself Projects, and More (Albert Whitman, and Co); as well as a handful of short stories. She lives outside of Washington, D.C. with her husband and five daughters. You can visit her website, or chat with her on Twitter, and on Facebook. OR come get a book signed at 7 pm October 30 at One More Page Books in Arlington