The Trap of the Published Author

Many of us aspiring fiction writers hope to be the next Stephen King or J. R. R. Tolkien. While achieving this comes with great prestige and power, there’s also a cost. Attending the RealmMakers conference helped this sink in.

The panelists at the conference spoke about the issues of being a published author. It isn’t all glory and roses. In fact, it comes with plenty of anxiety, pressure, and time management issues.

Being Unpublished

Unpublished authors, the conference panelists said, are in a special time of their careers. These aspiring artists have no deadlines, no appointments or emails to answer. They simply write and create.

Having freedom and a lax of pressure strengthens creativity—at least for me. It provides breathing room for the brain to function. Coupled with supplements like magnesium, vitamin d, and zinc—especially in a post-COVID age—has helped nurture my thinking process.

The Curse of Publication?

Many of the panelists mentioned several obstacles woven into the career process.

Self-care:

  • Having little time to prepare nourishing, whole food meals
  • Remembering to drink enough water
  • Getting insufficient sleep
  • A lax of exercise and movement
  • Spending little time with family or community
  • Drinking too much coffee or energy drinks to compensate

Neglect of other duties:

  • Chores left undone
  • Hobbies forgotten
  • Day job attendance depreciation
  • Creativity burnout

I wouldn’t be surprised if some authors suffer from depression, panic attacks, and other psychological issues.

That said, this isn’t unique to full-time writers. It’s the reality of modern society’s burnout syndrome. Granted, a moderate amount of stress is healthy, but most writers take it to the extreme.

I certainly did.

My Experience with Burnout

I’ve yet to publish anything—outside of some poetry and short stories. Still, I set the bar high for myself years back. I experienced many of the issues mentioned above by the panelists. It led to panic attacks, depression, and fatigue when I wasn’t writing.

Now, I’ve taken a step back allowing the creative muse to work as it wishes. I do set personal deadlines, but I don’t stay attached to them.

Writing began for me as an enjoyable pastime. It will remain that way even after I publish several of my novels. Exceptions to this are okay from time to time.

Tips from the Panelists

Here’s some advice gleaned from the panelists at the conference:

  • Surrender any perfectionism
  • Focus on strong intention and moderate effort, not results
  • Don’t compare yourself to others; writing shouldn’t be a race
  • Don’t mind what others think of you—yes, even critiques or book reviews
  • Check in with yourself often
  • It’s okay to say NO to certain tasks or deadlines
  • Structure your writing work, and limit it to three or four major tasks a day
  • Timeblock writing sessions: e.g. work for an hour or two, then stop
  • Use the Pomodoro Techinque
  • stay hydrated, fed, and get sunshine with fresh air during breaks

An Ancestral Perspective

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll understand that the modern diehard writing practices aren’t ancestral. Nor are they practical long-term. They break the body down over time. And when the body breaks, the mind cannot function.

Our ancestral storytellers thrived on nutrient-rich diets, engaged with their tribes, and experienced astounding creative potential. They knew how to pace themselves, and when to rest.

They had freedom.

That freedom to express, to nourish others with stories, is one of the greatest gift one can ask for. A gift from our Creator.


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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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4 thoughts on “The Trap of the Published Author

  1. You definitely raise many valid points, and while I only wanted to leave a short comment at first, I think I’ll give it a bit more thought and make a dedicated post from my own point of view in a couple of days.

    Liked by 1 person

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