If you've been married for any length of time, you know that it doesn't take too many months or years for the newness of marriage to wear off and for reality to set in. Those heart-stopping tingles that fueled our love affairs often give way to heart-rending difficulties.
The fact is, no two people are perfect, and no marriage will be either. Whether it's the little things like squeezing the toothpaste from the top or bottom, or something bigger like where to spend family vacations, issues crop up to cause conflict.
We might start marriage with high hopes and expectations, but those difficulties eventually creep in and threaten to steal the joy and love that once abounded. When the honeymoon is over we realize if we're going to make our marriage thrive, we have to work hard, often really hard to stay committed.
Some days we have to grit our teeth, pray for strength, and use sheer will-power to keep on loving our spouses. We aren't basing our love affair on feelings any more. We don't quit when the going gets rough. Rather, we choose to love and stay committed because we said we would.
The same is true with our writing. There will be times when our feelings for our writing will diminish. Problems creep into our stories, the small adverbs and big plot holes. Our high hopes and expectations are dashed with each rejection. We face incredibly hard, dry times when we want to give up.
It's at these times in the writing life, just like in marriage, that we have to fall back to the decision we've made. We don't write just when we feel like it, or when we're enthusiastic about our book, or only when we have high energy levels.
We keep writing because we made a commitment to it. We carve out the time, put our fingers to the keyboard, pray for ideas, and force ourselves to pound out the letters one word at a time. Successful writing careers, like successful marriages, take incredibly hard work.
Perhaps we may reach a point when we need therapy. (My husband is a therapist and does quite a bit of marriage counseling, so I couldn't resist stretching the analogy today!) We all need help from time to time and it's okay to seek it out--from critique group friends or even from a professional (author or editor).
Are you doing the hard work necessary to make your writing thrive? When the going gets tough and you feel like giving up, what are the ways that you motivate yourself to stay committed to your writing? Please share your ideas. Your encouragement will be writing therapy for all of us!