Scott Keen grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn’t want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing—he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools.
Scott was interviewed by Colleen Story on her Writing and Wellness blog. We have reprinted it here with her permission. Thank you, Colleen!
The Pull-Up Bar as a Headache Cure!
One of my biggest physical challenges to writing, and many other things, was neck pain and headaches. Like most everyone else who stares at a computer as part of their job, I hold my tension in my neck and shoulders. There were plenty of times I couldn’t write because of this.
I realized that my life is pretty sedentary. I did not do a whole lot of exercise or stretching that stretched me physically, and that in itself can be pretty depressing.
So one small change I enacted was to buy myself a pull-up bar. Using that each night has eased a lot of my headaches. While it hasn’t cured them completely (I still hold tension there), strengthening the muscles in that part of my body has helped me tremendously.
How Physical Work Helps Balance the
Challenge of Marketing
For a time I thought rejection was the worst part of writing—and it was until I began to deal with marketing and self-promotion.
I am somewhat of an introvert, so the isolation of writing is not bad for me. Of course I like company, but I also like sitting alone and writing. It is, in a sense, soothing.
Self-doubt will never leave me. I will always struggle with that, and for me, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing (as long as it doesn’t paralyze me in terms of writing). But dealing with the release of the book and certain problems I’ve had with that has been the most frustrating part of writing.
I’m a Christian, so prayer has worked for me. I also have a very supportive wife, and her encouragement has helped me deal with a lot of the stress.
Usually, I have to go out and do something to take my mind off of the situation. If I don’t, I can dwell on it until I start feeling the physical effects.
So, getting out and physically working helps clear my mind. Whether it is chopping wood, shooting my bow, mowing the lawn, or building something, anything that pushes me physically helps me put things into perspective.
The Darkest Moment
I don’t think there was one specific moment that led to periods of great discouragement. Though I’ve had them, they were more or less after a few years of no success in what I was striving for. I think it would follow a period where I thought I was about to have a success (if an agent requested a full, but then wasn’t interested).
Getting through these moments wasn’t easy. Sometimes I would stop writing for a while. It usually didn’t last long. Other times, it would just spur me on to query more, or just write more.
I don’t think the discouragement ever went away. In some ways, it becomes a part of you. Rejection is tough. Each person deals with it in a certain way. I think I’m still trying to find the healthiest way.
The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path
The one thing that has kept me true to this path is the deep desire of not wanting to fail.
I couldn’t give up. I still can’t. I want to write these stories, and I want people to read them.
The longer I kept writing, the more I needed to succeed. If I had quit, then everything that happened before, everything that I, and my family, went through, would have been in vain.
That was too much for me to deal with, and so I pressed on.
Advice for a Young Writer
The most difficult part is the fact that there is no quick way to succeed.
If you don’t have perseverance, you will fail. If you don’t “have time,” you will fail. If you want to do something else at all, then you will do it.
The only thing that will keep you on this path is perseverance. If you listen to those around you telling you to be practical, then you will quit.
There is only one way to get through this difficulty because there is no avoiding it. The answer is this: you must never stop.
You must not quit.
If you have a tendency to give up, then this career isn’t for you. The person who sticks with it will be the person who finds success.
Thank you, Scott!
Scar of the Downers: Branded on the slaves in the Northern Reaches beyond Ungstah, the scar marks each one as a Downer. There is no escaping this world. Still, strange things are stirring. Two foreigners ride through the Northern Reaches on a secret mission. An unknown cloaked figure wanders the streets of the dark city of Ungstah. What they want no one can be sure, but it all centers around a Downer named Crik. Too scared to seek freedom, Crik spends his days working in his master’s store, avoiding the spirit-eating Ash Kings while scavenging food for himself and his best friend, Jak. Until he steals from the wrong person. When Jak is sold to satisfy the debt, Crik burns down his master’s house and is sentenced to death. To survive, Crik and his friends must leave behind their life of slavery to do what no other Downer has ever done before—escape from the city of Ungstah. Available at Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Booksamillion, and Amazon.