• Caitlin Evans
  • A Manifesto for Female Writer Solopreneurs: All Them Struggles and How to Make it
A Manifesto for Female Writer Solopreneurs: All Them Struggles and How to Make it
Written by
Caitlin Evans
December 2019
Written by
Caitlin Evans
December 2019

For me, writing is a form of therapy. It’s a way of exploration, of self-expression. My pen (well, keyboard, to be completely honest) is my weapon of choice in making the world the place I want to live in. It’s my guiding force in bringing everything I love and care about to anyone willing to read. 

Nothing else makes me feel as true to myself. Whether I’m jotting down my thoughts in my journal, writing a short story, or putting together a piece about nutrition, each and every page feels dear and true and priceless. And I am constantly aware of how privileged I am to have the opportunity to live off it.

But it would be dishonest to say that being a writer is a bed of roses. 

I’ve had my fair share of struggles in my creative pursuits. I’ve dealt with severe writer’s block. I’ve been rejected more times than I can count. I’ve pushed myself to the point of burnout (twice). Yet, I keep coming back for more of that high that comes with writing a piece that is just right.

And I don’t ever intend to stop. I’ve made my choice and I’m ready to own it, through thick and thin.

So how do I deal with the struggles of being a writer solopreneur? Well, most of the time, I turn to those who inspired me to write in the first place.


Dealing with deadlines

The first thing I had to learn as a solopreneur was how to handle deadlines. 

One person, who taught me what not to do? The brilliant and witty Dorothy Parker. 

In 1929, Parker signed a contract for a book that she was to finish in under a year. She sailed to Europe, where she was to work on the next great American novel, only to return a year later with no finished product. Too embarrassed to face her publishers and tell them of her failure, she chose, instead, to attempt suicide by swallowing poisonous shoe polish.

The takeaway for me here wasn’t that I need to be brave enough to face up to my failures. Instead, it was that I need to be careful with the conditions that I accept. 

There is so much pressure nowadays to churn out content that we all fall into the trap of thinking that we either have to conform or quit. But, the truth is, quality takes time. 

And you have to take your personal wellbeing into consideration as well. What good is publishing a book if you’re going to have to spend the following six months recuperating and getting therapy because you overworked yourself?


Fleeting inspiration

Writer’s block. 

We’ve all been there. I certainly have. 

Personally, I think that Sylvia Plath was on the right track in solving this problem. Aside from being shaped by her poetry in ways I can only struggle to describe, there is one piece of advice by Sylvia Plath that I find extremely significant: when hitting a dry spell, she would go out into the world and try to “live harder, eyes, ears, and heart open.” This way, she was able to draw inspiration from things both extraordinary and mundane, forming them into poems embedded with pain, and life, and difficult truths. 

To allow myself to see the world with fresh eyes, I travel, take photos, dance, run, hike. I challenge myself to read as much as I physically can, or to participate in events such as NaNoWriMo that give me a creativity boost and a sense of accomplishment

All of these are refreshing ways to let my brain rest from my daily writing. Once I’m done with my relaxation, I have newfound energy and drive to tackle any hurdle.


Don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough

As Margaret Atwood famously said, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

If, like me, you often find yourself going back to what you’ve written, changing it until it’s unrecognizable, only to find two days later that you preferred the original version, you definitely need to follow this piece of advice. 

And don’t get me wrong – I think that revisions are crucial in ensuring the quality of your work. But sometimes, enough is enough.

In my experience, the most effective way to ensure that something is up to standard is to leave it be for a few days (or weeks if you’ve got the time). This way, you can go back to the material with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and you’ll find the real issues more easily. 

Furthermore, leaving your work alone for a bit of time will prevent you from obsessing over the imperfections you can’t fix at that moment. That’s how you’ll create enough space for yourself to focus your energy on getting ahead and creating something new.


The financial struggle

Nothing is quite as motivational as a rags-to-riches story. Just look at J. K. Rowling, who went from living on welfare to becoming one of the top-earning authors to date. But before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published, Rowling dealt with depression, rejection, and even considered suicide.

If you, like most of us writers, find yourself in a situation where your writing isn’t generating enough income, it’s best to take the same approach as you would if you were running a company. 

Outline your business. Plan your cash flow. Determine what you need in terms of financial support, and find the best way to go forward in order to secure it. You’d be surprised at how much you can actually accomplish once you know where you stand financially and your goals are clearly determined.


Don’t let them get you down

A sad truth about being a female writer is that we are considerably more likely to get rejected than our male colleagues. Publishers are unsure how to market books written by women, and there’s a struggle for shelf space when it comes to female authors. Even if we do get a book deal, we’re far more likely to be judged on the basis of our gender then by our literary prowess. 

This is why my last piece of advice is to prepare yourself for rejection. 

Learn from it, as much as you can, and use all the feedback to become a better writer. As a creative entrepreneur, it’s your job to evolve, become better, and learn how to predict what the market needs. And who knows, in time, you may become the source of inspiration for aspiring writers wanting to have their voices heard.

If you’ve had to deal with any of the difficulties described above, let me know what you did to surmount them. Or, if you’re still searching for the best way to ‘make it,’ tell me your favorite tips. I’d love to read about fellow female writer solopreneurs’ experiences – undoubtedly, I’m bound to find new pearls of wisdom I can apply on my own journey of self-expression.

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