Friday, November 15, 2013

Permission to Unplug

Let me start with something you all already know: publishing is hard.

This isn't going to be one of Those Posts, though! If you're following us here, chances are you've experienced how hard it is already, and you've kept going. You've committed to keeping up on publishing Twitter and blogs, and you might even have a Publishers Marketplace subscription. You're learning about the business you're trying to break into, and that's awesome.

But even though social media makes it possible for us to maintain this amazing community, it means we have endless opportunities to compare ourselves to one another. Even though things happen at different speeds for different people, it's easy to look at one of your friends and wonder if you're ever going to make it to where they are. You can look at how long it took them to get their agent, or sell their first (or second or seventh) book, or sell hundreds of copies of their self-pubbed book - and then start to feel discouraged about your own process.

If you feel like that sometimes, that is totally okay. No one is a tireless optimism machine 100% of the time, and it doesn't mean you're not happy for your friends. I struggled with this a lot during some of the rougher periods when I was querying, where some days I felt like I'd cry if I typed 'Congratulations' one more time. And it's no coincidence that, at that point, I also felt like I had to stay plugged into the publishing world 24/7, so I could feel like I was doing something.

So let me just state, for the record, that when you start feeling like this, it's okay to give yourself permission to unplug. It's more than okay, it's necessary. I can be a better writer when I can focus on my story instead of the new genre craze, and I can be a better friend to my fellow writers if I don't bring my own baggage into their good news party.

The literary landscape is frantic and quickly changing, and I know I wouldn't have it any other way - but a little quiet and distance is good for the soul. So next time you feel overwhelmed, remember that you don't have to force yourself. Take a step away for a little while. We'll be here when you get back.


  1. My entire way of thinking/operating has changed since I've gotten involved in social media, and it's not necessarily for the better. Now, when I write, or beta read, I do it in snippets, checking in with all that other "stuff" (mostly e-mail) so I don't get behind or miss something. Some days it exhausts me. And yes, there are certainly days where I feel frustrated. Thank goodness for the great outdoors and the gym!

  2. Yes, I was thinking the other day about how many of the "busywork" online things I do are to make myself feel like I'm doing SOMETHING to help my career, haha. So many aspects of publishing are out of our control (and although I've mostly reformed my inner-control-freak, she likes to pipe up during those "waiting" periods) that I sometimes have to stop and take stock.

    I think being a visual artist as well as a writer helps with the comparisons, because when I was in galleries and actively trying to get my artwork out there, I saw again and again how it can feel like you're competing for one spot (in the case of galleries, sometimes I was) but that each artist and their work is so different.

    It becomes a matter of finding YOUR place. At times, despair and desperation can color that search, but mostly that knowledge gives me a sense of peace.


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