Happy Friday, Operation Awesome!
Some of you Twitteratis may have noticed a hashtag circulating through the writing community earlier this week - #keepgoing - in which writers tweeted about the ways in which they've moved forward, even when this time last year, it felt hopeless.
The reason I think the discussion was so important is that everyone needs that encouragement once in a while. I'm sure there are some rare specimens out there who haven't had a single hiccup in their road to publication, but for the rest of us, there's always something. Whether it's agent-hunting, the submission process, low sales, bad reviews, a tough editorial note, or even a smaller, harder to articulate problem, any number of these things can stop you in your tracks.
#keepgoing reminds us that no matter how it looks now, you never know how your career is going to change if you keep pushing on. But how do you do that when you feel stalled?
Here are a few things that work for me:
- Switch it up. Obsessing over the project that's making you anxious is like salting the papercut, especially when that project is at a point where it's beyond your control. But sometimes it's not a project that you're querying or on sub with, sometimes it's a WIP that's just completely blocked, to the point where you wonder if you can even write anymore. In those cases, sometimes you just need to stick with it and push through, but other times, a shiny new Word .doc can be the perfect palate cleanser. It depends on what works best for the project, and your own personal process.
- Talk it out with people who understand. Writer friends are the best in times like these, because we get it. You don't have to stop and explain anything to them, and together you can untangle the mess that is your thought process. It's good, in this case, to recognize what you need - whether it's a cheerleader, a nice brutal critique, a plotting buddy, or just a good old-fashioned venting session. Or just someone who will distract you with a nice bottle of wine and some silly TV shows.
- ... and remember to talk to non-writing people as well. Because it's always important to have perspective. My friends and family are just proud of me for finishing a book at all, regardless of how my career goes, so it's good to have the reminder that that's pretty neat on its own!
- Remind yourself that in this business, no effort is wasted. The frustrating part, of course, is when you can't immediately tell where those efforts will pay off - but whether that project isn't as dead in the water as you think, or helped you improve more than you'll ever know, every word you write is helping you somehow.
That's what helps me personally, OAers. How about you?
Have a great weekend, and hang in there!