Writer’s Identity Crisis

A thing happened after I finished (and resubmitted) my most recent work in progress. I didn’t know what to work on next.

Did I have more ideas? Yes.

Are all of them something I’m interested in writing? Yes.

But that does not mean I had any idea where I should go next. This is partially because I’m not sure which writing path to take and some of it may be contingent on what happens with my other manuscript. Because…branding and writer’s platforms and all that.

writers-identity-crisis

My accountability partner suggested I write down all my ideas and let them sit while I think. I didn’t listen right away. I mean, I thought about it a ton. And then I started freaking out because who am I as a writer? Am I a nonfiction or fiction writer? Or am I both? Young adult? Adult? Women’s fiction? Romance?

I succumbed and wrote them all down—the ideas, the thoughts, small plot ideas. And then I let the list sit.

  1. Maybe it didn’t clear up my uncertainty or solve my writer’s identity crisis yet. But, a couple of my ideas have made their way to the top of my list and I feel slightly more secure in what direction I want to take. Some of this is still contingent on what happens with my submission, but maybe not.

My point is you don’t have to have all the answers to your future. Because you know what? Five years ago, I wasn’t even thinking about writing at all. Hadn’t even crossed my mind. And now I’m writing all the time and that’s just crazy.

Who knows where we will all be in five or ten years. It’s OK to not know and feel uncertainty. Just take notice, write down your thoughts, and eventually it’ll all sort itself out. You’ll know which direction you want or need to take.

Have you experienced your own writer’s identity crisis? What helped you find your path?

_____________________________________________________

Wendy Jessen is the author of more than 500 articles—family-oriented articles on familyshare.com and book reviews. She recently started a website for something she is passionate about–helping victims of sexual abuse find hope and healing. Wendy is the mother of 6 spirited children ranging in age from 5 to 15. In the throes of writing a few books (fiction and nonfiction), she finds ways to procrastinate which usually involves scrolling through social media. Wendy often stays up way past her bedtime reading, loves kid-free date night with her husband, family vacations, and kids’ bedtime, aka, the human version of whack-a-mole.

Surviving the Revise and Resubmit

In publishing, there’s this thing that can happen. It’s not a rejection (yet), and it’s not an acceptance (yet). It’s the “revise and resubmit.”

surviving-the-revise-and-resubmit

Basically, they see your manuscript as having potential (yay! This is positive!) but they need you to rework, change, add, or delete some stuff from your manuscript for it to be “right” for a particular publishing house or agent.

I recently received one of these. The process went something like this:

  • *Submitted MS to desired publishing house (I didn’t need an agent for this particular place).*
  • *Waited a reeeeeaaaaalllllyyyy long time.*
  • *Received a request for a revise and resubmit with a page or two of notes with some specifications of what they wanted me to do.*
  • *Breathes into paper sack and cries.*
  • *Drinks a lot of Dr. Pepper and eats too much chocolate.*
  • *Stares at computer, useless, for a week.*
  • There’s no way I can write this book.
  • *Gets all the books I can find on this topic.*
  • A whole month has already passed?!?
  • *Bangs head on desk.*
  • %$&*#@!.
  • I’m just going to try typing some words and add a few quotes and see what happens.
  • I have no idea what I’m doing.
  • I am not a writer.
  • I can’t do this.
  • *Cries on the inside like a winner.*
  • *Drinks more Dr. Pepper.*
  • Hey, will you read this and see what you think? (Me, to beta reader friends.)
  • I think I know how to do this. *types a lot of words fueled by Dr. Pepper.*
  • I’ve added thousands of words!
  • Hey, this is pretty good.
  • I think I can do this!
  • BOOM BABY! *Drinks more Dr. Pepper to celebrate.*
  • Uh…what am I thinking?
  • *Complains to accountability partner.*
  • *Sees looming deadline approaching.*
  • This is horrible. I sent this to people…to READ?!?
  • Why did I think I could do this?
  • I am never going to get this right.
  • *Eats more chocolate.*
  • *Pounds out some more words.*
  • This is pretty good.
  • No, wait. No this sounds ridiculous.
  • *Vents to fellow writer friends.*
  • Why did I write this in the first place?
  • *Gets more feedback.*
  • *Writes more words.*
  • Okay, I think I’m close to done.
  • Maybe this is decent.
  • I can’t think of anything else to add or change.
  • Is it time to resubmit?
  • *Hyperventilates*
  • *Gets dizzy and lightheaded*
  • *Gets teary*
  • Attach this file and… done!
  • *Hits send.*
  • *Becomes dazed.*
  • *Pinches self to see if I’m still alive.*
  • *Commences waiting for unknown length of time…*

Doing a revise and resubmit is not easy. But, it is doable and definitely an opportunity for writing and personal growth. I wrote 25K more words, moved chapters, added quotations and stories, added more chapters, got reader feedback, and poured my heart and soul into my revisions. After hitting send, I was drained, exhausted, and emotional.

But it’s done and out of my hands.

And now to work on my other writing projects to distract myself from obsessively checking my email and thinking myself into the insane asylum.

Have you received a “revise and resubmit”? How did it go for you?

___________________________
 

Wendy Jessen is the author of more than 500 articles—family-oriented articles on familyshare.com and book reviews. She recently started a website for something she is passionate about–helping victims of sexual abuse find hope and healing. Wendy is the mother of 6 spirited children ranging in age from 5 to 15. In the throes of writing a few books (fiction and nonfiction), she finds ways to procrastinate which usually involves scrolling through social media. Wendy often stays up way past her bedtime reading, loves kid-free date night with her husband, family vacations, and kids’ bedtime, aka, the human version of whack-a-mole.

Research Done. Now What?

I can’t say I exactly planned to be a nonfiction writer, but here I am.

It started out as a smaller endeavor, short essays or articles on a website where I’d occasionally cite a source or two. Fast forward a few years to when I found myself writing an inspirational/self-help book,  a different kind of beast with many more sources.

Anyhow, I had to do research for this book because it’s nonfiction (and you have to have some credible and compelling facts and studies and whatnot) and I thought, “No biggie. I’ll just check out a stack of books from the library and find some pertinent info and be done.” Except, it’s not quite that simple.

research-done-now-what

I started reading. And marking all the books with sticky tabs with handwritten notes so I knew what to look for later. And it ended up looking like this:

2016-08-22-23-29-48

I know. I know! Now what am I supposed to do with all that?

Reading through my manuscript, I tried to start placing quotes where they were needed, but I found myself scrolling up and down and getting lost, and forgetting what I was even trying to place. I was overwhelmed and feeling inadequate to the task.

Then it hit me: I needed to print out my whole MS and lay it out so I could visually see where everything needed to go and save myself the chaos of scrolling through my document.

So, that’s what I did. I spread out my chapters so I could see each one. Next, I went through each book and each tab and assessed what I needed to keep and took out the tabs marking thoughts or ideas I didn’t need to include (you can’t use everything, so dwindling down to the most important stuff is key). With the things I wanted to keep or thought I might use, I took a sticky note, wrote the title of the book, page number, and main idea of the quote or information and stuck it to the chapter or page it needed to go in. This is what it looked like when I was done:

2016-09-20-14-00-59

Though this is kind of messy looking, this felt so much more manageable to me. Since I’m more of a visual learner, this was a really helpful way for me to organize everything.

Since then, I have been going through each chapter, adding in quotes and ideas where needed and making progress.

I don’t know whether this will help anyone with their writing/research process, but this was a huge break through for me.

What are your helpful research tips or tricks?

___________________________

Wendy Jessen is the author of more than 450 articles—family-oriented articles on familyshare.com and book reviews. She recently started a website for something she is passionate about–helping victims of sexual abuse find hope and healing. Wendy is the mother of 6 spirited children ranging in age from 5 to 15. In the throes of writing a few books (fiction and nonfiction), she finds ways to procrastinate which usually involves scrolling through social media. Wendy often stays up way past her bedtime reading, loves kid-free date night with her husband, family vacations, and kids’ bedtime, aka, the human version of whack-a-mole.