“Dear Sherry” is an opportunity to ask for advice on writer’s/creativity block, time management, the process of writing, and more. Sherry Peters is a Certified Life Coach who works with writers at all stages of their writing career looking to increase their productivity through pushing past the self-doubt holding them back. Her fiction has won the Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-book award, and been nominated for the Aurora Award, Canada’s top prize for Speculative fiction. If you could ask a writing coach anything, here is your chance.
Dear Coach Sherry,
I’ve been a writer for most of my young adult and adult life, and I’ve settled into a happy place as an indie author with a small but sweet following. I write in addition to my daytime career, and I have no expectation of ever making a living at it. This is the worst-paying part-time job I will ever have, and I’m more than content to continue at this pace because it’s something that I truly love.
But other causes exist in this world that definitely need attention and help. I try to do my small part: I make what monetary donations I can to some charities that are close to my heart, I recycle, and I recently installed solar panels on my roof. Unfortunately, the world is a crazy place, both socially and environmentally. Since my writing career is not something that will probably ever support me financially (or even support itself financially at a reasonable hourly rate), how can I justify the hours I spend on it that could be “better” spent doing things like volunteering or other things to improve the world we live in?
Bleeding Heart Fantasy Author
Dear Bleeding Heart,
This is probably one of the most reasonable arguments I’ve ever heard for writing guilt. Most writers claim household chores as the cause of their guilt and so they use those chores as their means of procrastination. If you decide to perform charitable acts and making the world a better place as your means of procrastination, then go for it. It might be the only form of procrastination I’ll condone.
You are the only one who can truly justify how you spend your time. What it comes down to is this: you want to make the world a better place. How will you do it?
As you ponder that, I will share some of my thoughts with you. I often wonder why we lean toward an all-or-nothing perspective.
The world is, without a doubt, a mess. There is always a demand for workers and volunteers, all over the world, to dedicate their lives to working for non-profits. It can truly be the most amazing experience, knowing that something you are doing is actually making a difference. I’ve done it. Best time of my life.
That doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference at home with financial donations and being more ecologically conscious. Perhaps we could all make a greater impact if we were to volunteer somewhere for a couple of hours a week. I also think that living a life of kindness and generosity to those we come in contact with can have a positive, if intangible, impact on our world. We won’t see the effect of a random act of kindness such as a kind word, going an extra step, or having a little extra patience with a co-worker, but making the world a better place isn’t about patting ourselves on the back. Think about how much better you feel after someone has been kind to you. Then when you’re in a better place, you are more likely to be kind to someone else.
Let’s translate that to the power of the written word. Why do we so often assume that what we write has no impact on anyone? How many times have you heard authors talk about the reader who contacted them to say how much a book helped them through a tough time? Maybe you’ve had some similar fan mail yourself? Maybe books or short stories have had that same impact on you?
A lot of people read for escape. We say that like it’s a bad thing. We all need a break every now and then from our lives, and maybe taking that break will refresh that reader, so that they can go out and continue their charitable work.
It is my belief that fiction provides relief, expands readers’ minds, and/or allows readers to identify with someone in a similar circumstance to what they find themselves in and find the hope they need to survive.
So who is to say that writing and publishing our stories isn’t making the world a better place?
Do what you love, when you love it, because life is full of change, and you don’t know what’s down the road. Remember: it’s not a zero-sum game.
Let me know what you decide!
Creatively yours, Sherry
Have a question for Sherry? Send her an e-mail at email@example.com.