Give Yourself A Break

Publishing is a competitive sport of sorts. Think about it. How many authors are out there? How many books? (If you’ve seen my growing book wish list, you’ll see it’s quickly getting out of control.)

And only the best get to enjoy some visibility in bookstores and online retailers.

Yet the amount of rejection every author faces is daunting. It can be soul crushing.

I know I look at my work with such a critical eye that I pretty much convince myself no one would ever waste even five minutes reading it. 

(Other authors have felt this way, I’ve heard ’em mention it.)

So what’s a writer to do? Quit, right?

Wrong!

Anyone who’s caught the writing bug knows that while quitting seems appealing from time to time, the urge to write is still inside, perhaps buried or latent or beaten down, but it’s there. And it refuses to be snuffed out. 

Sometimes it takes hearing a reader gush about a character they liked, or receiving positive feedback from a beta reader, or even returning to an abandoned project and realizing its waaaay better than you first thought to get you back in the proverbial saddle. 

Last summer, I’d started a new YA contemporary and got about 20,000 words in before falling out of love with it. I’d taken a few writerly ego hits (a press shut down and I got rights for four novels returned to me–a good thing, but it effectively annihilated my backlist–and I was toiling with the querying of a different YA contemporary written the previous winter), and contemplated quitting. My joie de writing had dried up. 

A few months later, I got new contracts for two of my returned projects (Yay!), and received some good news for the YA contemporary. Riding the good news high, I pulled out the partially drafted novel and reviewed it. I realized it was way better than I’d given it credit for. Who knew?! 

The upshot?

I need to GIVE MYSELF A BREAK. Sure, whatever I write needs editing–that’s par for the course–but I shouldn’t see that as a reason to quit…or to bash myself. I need to recognize I can tell a damn good story. I need to acknowledge my ability to create complex characters. 

I need to keep writing.

How about you? Do you need to give yourself a break? If so, what kind?

Believe In Yourself

I’ve been reworking rewriting an old project for a couple weeks now and let me tell you I’m struggling with it.

Not the story itself. I loved getting reacquainted with the characters. And once I consulted Save The Cat (a screenwriting guide that’s helpful for plotting novels too), I was able to outline a new and improved plot.

The first couple of chapters practically wrote themselves. Then I ground to a halt. For some reason, I hated everything I wrote. I froze when I opened the Word doc to continue drafting. I fell into a funk. HARD.

The reason?

I lost all confidence in my ability to write.

Some call it writer’s block, some call it procrastination, and some call it an empty creative well. For me, when I’m not writing it’s because I can’t see anything good about my skills. It doesn’t matter that I’ve written a million words. It doesn’t matter that I have published works. It doesn’t matter that people have told me how much they like X, Y, or Z about my stories.

Lack of confidence means all I see are the negatives and I’m blind to the positives.

It totally sucks donkey balls. And I HATE when it happens. I’m basically at a standstill, a dead end, encased in concrete.

I could quit. Then I wouldn’t have to fight myself and feel like crap. I wouldn’t feel guilty about watching TV when I should be writing. I wouldn’t be chastising myself for not working on that cool story that’s nagging at the back of my mind.

But I can’t quit. My friends won’t let me, lol!

And deep down, I don’t want to quit. Because I’ve got more than one story nagging at me. I’ve got more like ten.

And I do know how to write. I just have to remind myself of that.

How do I do that?

I write. And while I write, I let my character(s) talk to me. I transcribe what they see, hear, think, and feel. Once I get in their head(s), the story starts to emerge. And before I know it, I’m writing.

Bottom line: To write, all I have to do is believe in myself.

Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

How about you? How do you believe in yourself?