Another rejection. A less than stellar review. Disappointing numbers. Difficult feedback.
My shoulders sag, my stomach winds into knots. Chocolate cake screams my name. My pajamas become my uniform and I won’t even start on my sudden aversion to showering .
Been there, done that?
Exactly. As much as I love the joys that come from creating a compelling story, the high of dreaming of future success, pain along the way is inevitable. But, at times, the pain immobilizes my progress. I hit a slump. I stop writing. I postpone those dreams. To snap out of it, I've learned this trick: I grab a journal, a pen, and I ask myself the following questions:
1. Can I imagine being as happy or happier doing anything else in the whole wide world?
2. If I set it all down and walked away today, how would I feel?
3. Am I worrying about what people think rather than about what I want?
4. What is not (writing, promoting, querying, submitting) doing for me? What do I get out of it?
5. What can I learn from this (rejection, review, critique, etc.) ?
Here are some of my answers:
1. Yes, damn it. I could become a make-up artist. I could meet Adrian Grenier and have a torrid romance. Okay...maybe. I could find a way to get paid to read all day. I could land a job at a chocolate factory. Or...no! Not at all. I’m a writer. And I love it. Even the hard parts.
2. I would feel empty. Sad. Bored.
3. Maybe. That reviewer wasn’t exactly nice. And form letters suck. And I just know my sister’s going to ask how it went and I’ll have to tell her and she’ll say she’s sorry but I’ll imagine a hint of joy in her voice. Except, what other people think is none of my business! (I then proceed to chant this several times until all the “but, what about _____?’s” are gone.)
4. Ah, yes. The tough one. Being honest with myself is always the most difficult step but it is also the most freeing. Not writing allows me to keep the dream alive. Because if I do nothing, I’m not failing. If I fail and fail, eventually, I’ll lose my dream! Or, at least, it seems that way. Sitting around moping in my chocolate smeared pajamas does please my inner child and supports my inner tortured artist, the one I pretend doesn’t exist. Doing nothing keeps me safe because I’m not opening myself to further rejection or ridicule or embarrassment. But it also is keeping me from my biggest pleasure, writing something someone might love. Outside of my adventures in motherhood, there is no better feeling in this life than connecting with a reader. It feels like when someone laughs at your joke or loves that song, too, or cried at the same silly commercial.
5. I can learn to write better, to relax and not be so hard on myself. To have more fun.
By this point, I am able to step away from the cake. The knots untie. The shower beckons. I then decide how long my pity party gets to last. One more hour, one more day? I stick to it. And often, I find those pesky doubting party guests leave early and on their own. I find myself back at the keyboard, back onto the road of my own hero’s journey. Thrilled anew.
What motivation tricks have you learned along your writing way?