Unlock Writing Successes Through Planning

I like to think ahead.

Nope, that’s a lie.

I can’t help but think ahead. If something is coming up on a weekend and I’m not sure how it is all going to unfold by Tuesday – Wednesday at the latest – I start getting antsy. I want to know when I need to leave or what the responsibilities are, if everyone who is involved is aware and prepared.

Which means I’m looking at how to make 2018 better than 2017.

Yes, already.

I haven’t started planning yet, but I have been taking windows of time to reflect and understand. I’ve been taking time to be honest with myself, about how I used the time and resources available to me, how I can be better with them in the future. Today, I’m going to walk you through my process just a bit.

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Context

The first question I have to answer for myself is where am I with my writing. The short answer is agented and on submission. But that’s not the honest answer.

I’ve been spinning my wheels instead of writing. I’ve been giving myself the excuse to watch an episode (or three) of The West Wing. While I have outlined two stories and have a pretty solid idea of where they are going, I haven’t been doing the work that I know I need to do to get them written.

I don’t know where my ambition went. I don’t know why I’m not writing. This is not going to bode well for making next year better.

Goals

There is really no reason that I can’t have several completed manuscripts in my proverbial file cabinet right now. I know lots of authors who sign with a publishing house and then get all sorts of requests for more. If I am really thinking ahead and because I know that I have several story ideas, my goal needs to be to complete.

But that’s too broad. It’s like lose weight (yep, that’s another one). Sure, it’s a nice thing to say, but until there is a measurable way for me to mark my progression, it’s not going to happen.

The goal needs to reflect dedicated steps that will assist in accomplishing. For me, I need to write. Probably every day. Probably at least 500 words a day. I need to honor the time I do have to write, be true to myself and my craft, and write.

Needs

I need a dedicated ritual to prime the writing part of my brain to work. There is something about me showing up in a particular space that allows me to really hone in on the work that needs to be done. I have a ritual when I get up and get going in the morning. I have a ritual when I get to work. I used to have a writing ritual, and there were several mental and physical and emotional curve balls that made me duck and cover instead of stand and hold my ground. I need to get back to where I was, and that will only happen if I commit to something and then tell my team.

Team

I have a few teams that I’m on when it comes to my writing. The first is my family. They know how to honor what I need to do, know how to solve their own problems a lot of the time, know that writing is important to me. I need to get back to communicating when I am taking time for my craft and when I’m taking time to be a mom and wife. I need to make sure that I do both.

I need to communicate better with my CPs. They are strong, driven, creative women who are pursuing the same thing as me. They are also kind and generous, which is the very best thing to be, and sometimes a little enabling. I need to recommunicate that they have permission to give me the evil eye if I don’t have pages for them to critique. I need to lean on them as I would hope they would know they could lean on me.

I also have an incredible agent. I can share frustrations and ideas with her, can ask for her professional opinion on matters related to the submission process and have learned much through the editing she has shared with me already. One of the big lessons I learned this year, that I need to carry forward through the next is that asking questions is okay, and that as her client, I’m not bugging her when genuine concerns exist. In fact, that’s one of the hats she is happy to wear.

Finally, I am on my team. It sounds strange and perhaps a little obvious, but I am really good at taking care of things that people expect of me and if it comes down to what others want vs what I want, I will nearly always take care of others first. It is sometimes the necessary choice. It isn’t always the best choice. I need to remember that working for me and on my craft is one of the reasons I am able to share with others: I have to be a fulfilled person myself before I can hope to genuinely contribute to the lives of others.

So, as you are looking forward to a new year, what is your present context, goals and needs? Who is on your team? How do you plan to improve in 2018?

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Tasha Headshot Color

Tasha Seegmiller believes in the magic of love and hope, which she weaves into every story she creates. A co-founder of Thinking Through Our Fingers, she is the managing editor of the writing-focused website as well as a contributor to Writers in the Storm. She is passionate about helping women nourish their creativity and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, where she serves as a board member. The former high school English teacher now assists in managing the award-winning project-based learning program (EDGE) at Southern Utah University. Tasha married a guy she’s known since she was seven and is the mom of three teens. She is represented by Annelise Robey of Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Spending Your Energy Wisely

It’s easy to find yourself pulled in many directions. In a multimedia/ social media world you can get swept up in the flood of news and information. Face it, politics, weather, justice, memes, family issues, etc are a part of our everyday and there’s no way to escape it all. With that being known what do you focus on?

Recently my girlfriend and I were discussing the DACA situation and it came up that she found herself unable to write for a couple of days because she was spending a good amount of time and energy on it. When she said this I thought about the art of Judo where you use your opponent’s energy to your advantage. You make the already spent energy do the work for you as opposed to expelling your own to little or no effect. The worldly energy of information overload will be there, but there are ways to manage them.

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The Post and Go

Each morning I do a positive message on my Facebook and Instagram. This mostly happens right before I clock in to work. Ten minutes tops. This is a set aside moment in the day where I post something and leave it be until I can respond later, usually a fifteen minute break towards the afternoon. I used to be a FB junkie, refreshing my app to see who said what, but I had to evaluate if that was helping me in the long run. Short answer no. Long answer still no. The internet will be there later. Right now there is work to do.

I’m Fine With My Two Cents

You’ve seen them. Maybe you’ve posted a few. You know, the landmines. That thing or topic you’re passionate about where you can’t understand how everyone else doesn’t feel like you. There are those people who can skillfully continue to scroll past them, yet there are plenty of others who can’t and wind up spending the day trying to defend their stance. Does this help you? Is your writing getting completed? If you had all day to argue with strangers to no avail you could have put that same energy into your manuscript. Just say no to landmines.

My Phone Makes A Great Paperweight

On my phone I have one game. I know myself. The more games I have I would need to play them to completion or until I got the high score. Hours of productivity would come to nothing in the end. Instead invest in an app like Forest that can block out your notifications. What you don’t know can’t hurt you. And what you don’t see on your home screen can’t suck your life away.

Schedule. Schedule. Schedule.

Take an honest look at your day to see where you spend your time. Prioritize what you need out of your day and stick to it. It may seem tedious but scheduling your day can become a life saver, well at least a productivity saver in the grand scheme of things. You’ll also see where time can be better utilized to write, research topics in this ever changing world, and possibly  (gasp) when you can have fun and socialize.

Social Media Vacation

Whether it’s a week, two weeks, a month or longer, if you know you can’t resist the siren song of the internet remove yourself from it. There’s no shame in it. I know several people who make a habit of doing so every couple of months or so. Leave a little message saying your plans (seriously, don’t just vanish. That’s rude) and take some time off. The world won’t end tomorrow if you remove yourself for a bit.

These are a few ways in which I or people around me have gotten themselves back into the writing flow in the social media world. What ideas have I missed? Until next time have a writeous day!

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Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

Loving the Self-Publishing Life

I’m a self-published author. I chose to self-publish my first novel in 2012, and four years later, I’m still happily self-publishing my novels. I’ll admit that sometimes I feel a little isolated from writers who choose the traditional publishing path, particularly when I find myself surrounded by discussions about agents, queries, and submissions. However, this has not caused me to question my decision to self-publish. For me, self-publishing is best for a variety of reasons, first and foremost being that I am happy doing what I’m doing.

I’ll be honest — the whole of my self-publishing journey has been interspersed with the occasional foray into the world of traditional publishing. I did actively query agents for one of my earlier books. A couple of years ago, I threw my hat into the #PitMad contest ring. However, when I take a good and hard look back upon those experiences, I never felt totally comfortable doing those things. I remember worrying about how I would manage life as a traditionally-published author. I have my own professional and personal reasons why self-publishing is a more comfortable fit for me than traditional, and ultimately it all boils down my specific life-work-health balance (*cue juggling here*) and overall sense of well-being and happiness.

self

So yes, my bottom-of-the-line answer to the question of “Why self publish?” is that it makes me happy. I have learned so much and grown in leaps and bounds (and am still learning and growing) as a writer and publisher since I started this endeavor. As one of many happy self-published authors in the world, these are some of the things about self-publishing life that I’d like to share (in case you didn’t know):

  1. Let start off by being real — sometimes self-publishing gets a bad rap. This is because there is a wide range of quality of self-published stories on the market. My favorite go-to authors are a mixture of self-published and traditionally-published for similar reasons: their stories and characters are raw and real and daring. The bottom line is this: a successful self-published author must produce works that are of the highest quality and shouldn’t settle for anything less.
  2. In the world of self-publishing, there tends to be an exaggerated sense of a more-book-releases-in-a-shorter-span-of-time-is-better attitude. As a result of this, you will see more serials (sections of books published as installments) here than in the traditional-publishing industry. This used to be frustrating for me because I am a pokey-ass writer, and I simply cannot keep up with the  breakneck pace of the “suggested” two or three novels (or more!) a year. I also haven’t jumped on the trend of publishing serials, and my stories tend to be longer (around 100K). There is very little that I can do about the fact that I’m a slowpoke writer (oh, believe me, I’ve tried to fast draft or sprint, but my brain just doesn’t work this way), and I’ve decided against serials because I like to structure my stories differently. BUT I write what I write because these stories are true to my heart, and self-publishing gives me optimum freedom to keep them this way.
  3. Self-published authors may or may not have an agent, but we have the same sorts of writing support units including critique partners, beta readers, editors, copyeditors, and cover designers. Our books may go on book tours, and we may attend author events. We enjoy learning new things for our craft, networking with other authors at writers’ conferences and other events, and going on writers’ retreats. Self-published authors have to take full responsibility for financing these things or making them happen in the first place (but so do some of the traditionally-published authors that I’ve spoken to). Regardless of expense, I’ve found great fulfillment in all of these elements of the craft, and I have loved learning all aspects of my trade.
  4. Like any type of publishing, self-publishing comes with its shares of ups (e.g.,  financial success, great reviews, bestseller status, TV/movie options, unlocking other major achievements) and downs (e.g., lulls in sales, publishing works that don’t live up to our wildly high expectations, negative reviews, writer’s block). While we often beat ourselves up for the latter, we really shouldn’t; both markets and readers possess a large degree of subjectivity and unpredictability. When faced with lows, we have to do the same thing that all authors must do — keep writing.
  5. Self-publishing is not “just self-publishing.” C’mon: would you describe a dedicated worker who has set up his/her own business as “just self-employed”? Self-publishing is not at all an easy thing to do, and it is an overall happy place and very viable for many authors. It’s a creative avenue that encompasses all aspects of publishing, if you’re willing to learn and embrace all of those things. For those of us who feel at home here, we can’t imagine leaving.

Some of my most memorable highlights from self-publishing have been picking out my own cover models and directing photo shoots (!), working with incredible artists, talking with TV producers, going to author events and meeting fans, forming life-long friendships with incredible people on my street team, and being part of an amazing group of critique partners. Will I ever query or pitch again? Perhaps? Maybe in a faraway future?  Sometimes I do think about it, for the one hard reason that self-published books do have much less visibility than traditionally-published books. Self-published authors have to do the legwork to get our books onto shelves of brick-and-mortar (usually indie) bookstores. We have to do more marketing in general (though now there are lots of services out there to help) and we rely much more heavily upon word-of-mouth recommendations and book reviews to get the word out about our books (read, review, and recommend!). So yes, I have thought about it in a general sense for future works. But right now, I’m content as a self-published author. I love the creative process. I love what I can do with my characters and my stories. I love my support units. I love my publishing schedule. I love learning about all aspects of publishing. I love what I’ve chosen for my writing life. And I’m not alone.

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helen

Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both urban fantasy and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of the urban fantasies MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL, and contemporary romances LOSING ENOUGH and SCARS RUN DEEP (coming soon). You can find out more about her at www.helenboswell.com.

Success in Solitude

I come from a family of producers (not the Matthew Broderick kind). My dad has built dozens of houses, more cabinet sets than I can recount, and my mom makes quilts for fun (many of which she gives away), and is always experimenting with incredible recipes, making great and even gourmet quality food on a regular basis.

These are exceptional qualities, but for someone like me, they also presented complications. You see, through the amazing things that they made, I started to believe that greatness needed to be concrete. This is something I struggled with when I was in college, when my accomplishments were reading 8-10 Supreme Court cases a night (with dissents), remembering the reason for the decisions, and merging that with the intense Shakespeare character development, setting, plot points, structure, and meaning of a play a day.

This kind of thinking permeates the writing community as well. There are writing trackers and revision trackers and editing trackers. There are events put on my NaNoWriMo, sprinting challenges all over Twitter, 1k, 5k, and even 10k challenges. These are all very good, and I have participated in and utilized nearly all of them. It is through integrating these kinds of things that we can maximize our BIC-HOK (butt-in-chair hands-on-keyboard) efforts. These are the kinds of skills that allow writers to hit deadlines, to finish books, and to get them published.

And yet.

Even though I’m a competitive person

Even though I love the feeling of nailing a goal

Even though I will pump my hands in the air, and do a chair dance, and get a celebratory high five from my husband and a sticker/gif parade in Facebook messenger from my critique partners…

These aren’t the moments that I seek after as a writer.

In fact, these have been moments that have often thrown me off my writing game almost more than anything else (exceptions being a couple really hard rejections).

The moments that I seek after look a bit more like this:

Philosopher in Meditation by Rembrandt

The work here isn’t tangible. It isn’t something that will present me with a certificate, bragging rights, or that I can even track in regards to progression from day to day.

But after a critique, edit notes, spitballing ideas, or in-depth research, sitting in solitude has time and again proven itself as the means through which I am able to ground myself, my characters, my setting, my ideas into a place where I can step out of the whirlwind of what others think and create my story.

It can also be one of the most difficult things to secure for myself. The following are a couple techniques I have incorporated to have success in solitude.

1. Jot ideas down the old fashioned way. 

Many studies have shown that writing things down by hand helps people learn better, so it makes sense to implement this practice when I’m trying to learn about the characters, setting, plot, arcs I need to understand better to create better and before I jump in to fix them.

2. Don’t be afraid to stare at a wall. 

This probably isn’t a public place sort of exercise – people keep interrupting to ask if you are okay. This is a way to let everything in your mind shift around, back and forth, until settling on a place that feels almost right. I let the various ways the scenario COULD work play out in my mind, hitting pause and rewind as soon as I realize THAT way won’t work. Should the character run away? Stay and fight for what they want? What would happen to that character if they do? If they don’t? Who else would be impacted by THAT decision?

3. Do something mindless. 

I often joke that I can’t cut my hair because my best ideas come when I’m washing my hair or blowing it dry. It is when I am doing a task that I can complete on auto-pilot, that allows my mind to wander, but still merges some mindless physical activity. I know someone who is inspired by mowing a lawn and another who finds great ideas in a sink full of dishes.

4. Stop Counting, Measuring & Comparing. 

When I am in this phase, I scroll right on by the people who are celebrating their concrete accomplishments. I’m thrilled for them, but not in the head space where I can internalize what they’ve done. Again, I’m competitive so it is easy to feel like I’m falling behind when someone who signed with an agent the same week I did has a book deal, has edits, is “squeeing” over cover concept ideas. I am genuinely happy for these people, and I may even write down a note to go back and celebrate with them, but I can’t engage when in solitary mode. That time must be reserved for me, my story, my ideas, my timeline.

5. Create a Timeline. 

This seems to be in direct competition with what I just said, but the bottom line is I can make myself crazy diving deeper into my mind if I don’t set a time within which I need to have things sorted. I have had some experience with this and know that I usually need about a week of thinking, two to three days of researching, jotting, visualizing, rethinking, and then I need to start organizing my thoughts in some tangible manner. I will almost always transfer these notes into a digital form for easy access later, but the creation works really well for me on post-it notes. If an idea is bad? Rip it up and throw it away. Timeline funky? Pull up the post-its and rearrange them in a way that makes more sense. Ginormous hole in desired emotional arc? See what happens when I lengthen or tighten the time table, the character connections, etc. 
Just as a philosopher’s ideas only gain value in the world after they have been shared, the things I’m thinking through need to go through this process again and again. But fighting against the tendency to simply and always produce has allowed me the opportunity to create work I’m proud of with a significantly higher return on investment than constantly and continually producing ever has. 

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Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and coordinator of the project-based learning center (EDGE) at Southern Utah University. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a hint of magic, and thrives on Diet Coke, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is a co-founder and the managing editor for the Thinking Through Our Fingers blog as well as the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly magazine, where she also serves as a board member. Tasha is represented by Annelise Robey of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

What Is Your Measure of Success? Lessons from Baseball

Our family loves baseball. We like to watch Major League games, and my 13-year-old son played in a local spring league this year.

His team didn’t win a single game.

Still, we cheered him on and celebrated small victories where we could: a walk to get on base; a decent play to make an out at first. We simply had to reevaluate our definition of success.

Maybe you can see where I’m going with this. Writing is much the same. Whether you dream of winning a championship trophy or a writing New York Times bestseller, failure to achieve a lofty—and perhaps unlikely—goal does not mean that the time you spend working toward it is wasted.

In our heads, we understand this. It makes sense. But our hearts are not always on board. I can’t tell you how many times I sat behind the dugout in my folding chair, praying every time my son was up to bat that he would get a hit. “Please,” I would whisper, “just let him get a hit. Just one little hit.” The one time he did hit the ball this year, it was a solid double witnessed by his grandpa, because my husband and I were out of town.

Most of the time I managed to chill out and just enjoy watching my son play. But a few times I remember getting so angry. Why couldn’t I see him get just one hit? Why couldn’t his team win just one game? Was it really too much to ask to see him experience that little bit of success?

When the season ended I asked my son if he wanted to play again next year. He sort of shrugged and said that as long as he didn’t get stuck in the outfield every game, he’d probably want to play.

Amazing, right? The losses didn’t deprive him of the will to live. The lack of hits didn’t crush his soul. He figured, okay, I’ll get back out there next year and try again. Why not?
Why not?

Too often during my career I’ve been caught in the endless logic loop of, “Why can’t I just get a partial request from an agent, or a full? That’s all I want. Don’t I at least deserve that little bit of success?” And then, “I have an agent, but I still can’t sell a book. Why can’t I sell just one little book?” And then, “Why isn’t my book selling a zillion copies? Why can’t I sell a second book?”

It’s exhausting. It’s a waste of energy and focus. And it never, ever ends unless you consciously remove yourself from the game.

You, as a writer—as a human—have the power to shape your own definition of success, and it need not conform to anyone else’s expectations. Sitting down and putting words on the page is a win. Finishing a first draft is a win. Finding joy or enlightenment or peace through a creative outlet? Win, win, win.

Life is not a competition.

Baseball (in my humble opinion) is about the beauty and simplicity of the game.

Writing, in all its forms, is about the effort to be more tomorrow than you are today. Also simple; also beautiful. Your goals may drive you, but they do not define you.

Your failures may hurt you, but they do not define you.

You define you. It helps to have people who love you cheering from the sidelines. But only you can decide to step out onto that field…

…and play.

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Growing up, Christine Hayes loved reading stories about creatures that curl your toes and legends that send a shiver down your spine. Now she loves writing about them, too. Her debut novel, MOTHMAN’S CURSE, was released in June 2015 through Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. Christine seeks inspiration by haunting flea markets and estate sales, searching for cool vintage finds with a story to tell. While earning her degree in music she visited Asia for the first time, and later moved there with her family for several years. She has been addicted to travel ever since. Christine and her clan now live in northern Utah. Find her online at www.christinehayesbooks.com.

Be The Exception

Last week, the gym was slow again. Though my fitness center attendance has been sporadic at best over the last few months, I have had a membership long enough to know that the three day weekend in the middle of January is often when the New Year’s Resolutioners all but fizzle out. Then, the people who are there at 5:00 am M-F can go back to their routine.

A mere 22 days into the 365 that everyone promised was going to be their best year ever, how are your writing goals coming? Did you decide that trying was too hard, that you got caught up in the January enthusiasm and made a commitment that you really didn’t mean to? Maybe snow days, sick kids (or self), cold weather or winter blues have led you to believe that one more week of doing things as you’ve always done won’t really make that much difference, that you were pretty productive last year, and it turned out alright.

I’m convinced that the greatest plague of our society is apathy. Apathy for what we can be, for what we can achieve, for the places we can go. We celebrate the accomplishments of graduates and start-ups and people who finish something hard, but in the back of our minds, we admit that they will probably not do what they wanted. It’s hard, after all, and hard is hard. It’s easy to binge-watch Netflix. It’s easy to get caught in the habit of busyness at the cost of productivity. It’s easy to put things off because we don’t know how to make it perfect, and if it isn’t perfect, well, then people will know that we aren’t perfect and man, that would be EMBARRASSING.

So instead of just writing the book, we go back and go back. Instead of sending our work off for critique, we revise and revise and revise, not knowing whether we are making it better or worse, but that’s okay because at least we aren’t embarrassed about what we don’t know. We keep studying plot points and character development and ways to convey setting and the just right emotional cues and and and

We tell ourselves it’s too hard, that we don’t have a right to be exceptional, that the kinds of things that happen to other people could never happen to us. After all, we were born in (insert stereotypical location here) and people from (location) don’t ever (insert goal, dream, ambition).

Except.

There was that one who…
Everyone remembers when…
Of course, we can’t forget…

Our books, our creative work, our passion sits in us, fermenting because of prolonged preservation. And now something DOES start to stink and now we really are embarrassed so we toss it, never knowing if it was good or bad or anything and we are left with nothing but nodding and smiling and saying we are still “working on it.”

And when December 31st rolls around again, we make a resolution that next year will be our year, that we will really write that book, that we will really get our agent, that we will really hit publish.

Yes, there are people at the gym who are ridiculously healthy. Yes, there are people who have muscle definition that I didn’t even know was possible. Yes, it can be frustrating to be the person trudging along on a treadmill at something that is a hybrid between walking and jogging when the numbers next to you indicate six or seven or eight miles per hour.

Yes, there are people who have had incredible publishing luck. Yes, there are people who release best seller after best seller after best seller, who seem to make meager words on a page emerge like actual gold. Yes, there are people who release two, three, four books a year and it takes you months and months and months just to write one.

But here’s what I know. I’ve never met an “EXCEPT” who didn’t work. Hard. I’ve never met a success that simply manifested itself before me. I’ve never had a victory that wasn’t super balanced with defeat, discouragement and disappointment.

And when that victory was finally achieved, there was never a time when I said I wished it had come some other way.

Find the writing goals you made for this year. Read them OUT LOUD to yourself. Imagine what it will look like, feel like, when you achieve that. Then get to work.

Every day.

EVERY. DAY.

Because there is no reason you can’t be the most exceptional person in your own life.

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Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is the managing editor for the Thinking Through Our Fingers blog as well as the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly magazine, where she also serves as a board member.

Perseverance + hard work = SUCCESS!

The writing process can be super difficult. It can make us feel inadequate or like we’re better off pursuing something else. Even if we start a story or project with ease, we soon find ourselves in the trenches of writing, editing, revisions, more revisions, trashing whole chapters or sections, rewriting, dreading critiques, and even loathing ourselves.

Sounds really fun, right?

But we do have those moments when it finally seems to come together. That’s where the magic happens. But, that magic is not possible with large amounts of work and not giving up when it gets overwhelming, frustrating, and difficult.

Perseverance + hard work = SUCCESS!

I remember reading about author Kathryn Stockett and her book The Help. That manuscript was rejected SIXTY TIMES before receiving her YES. I was amazed. I don’t know how I would have handled that amount of rejection. The point is, is that she didn’t give up and throw her manuscript in the trash. She believed in it and spent hours, days, and months reworking scenes to turn it into a huge success.

Writing a book is often referred to as giving birth to a baby. They do have a lot of the same symptoms…

  • At first, the writing is really fun.
  • Then you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into.
  • You stress and worry. A lot.
  • You work hard doing all the things you’re supposed to do to make your “book pregnancy” a success. 
  • Critique partners do “check-ups” and help you stay on the right track. 
  • The writing is often uncomfortable. 
  • You gain weight. Sometimes a lot.
  • You just want the book to be done!
  • You become extra sensitive, ornery, and cry easily–and all. the. time.
  • The deadline approaches and the worry increases. You start editing like mad, making sure your MS is spotless–the “nesting” phase.
  • Finally, after a lot of pain, self-medication via chocolate and caffeinated beverages, your book baby is born.
  • You show off your cover and masterpiece to the world.
  • And then you worry and stress about its success for the rest of your life.

After you have a child, you don’t give up on your kid when she becomes exhausting, frustrating, or has to take yet another bath to get cleaned up. The same goes for writing. You stick with it and do what has to be done as responsible parents (authors) do.

As any parent knows, there will be times when you feel like giving up, DON’T! Keep working at it. Let a fresh set of eyes take a look. Listen to their suggestion and see if it helps further your plot and character development.

Take a break for awhile. When the self-doubt kicks in or you have no idea where your story should go next, step away for a day. A week. Or a month. Just as “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” so does letting your MS sit untouched for a bit. I’ve found when I think something I’ve written is absolute garbage, if I take a sufficient break, it changes things. I can see my writing more clearly and am able to clean it up if needed and also see where my strengths are.

Sometimes, you will delete some section of your book and replace is with something a lot better. It’s part of the process. The revisions, editing, scrapping, rewriting, etc., will all be worth it in the end.
No one is handed success on a gold platter. It takes work, many failures, perseverance, and some more hard work. If success in writing was easy, everyone would do it.

So, hang in there and keep writing.

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Wendy Jessen is the author of more than 300 articles—book reviews as well as family-oriented articles on familyshare.com . She somehow manages to do that with 6 spirited children ranging in age from 4 to 13 under toe. In the throes of writing her first book, she finds ways to procrastinate which usually involves scrolling through social media. Wendy often stays up way past her bedtime reading YA or other fiction. She loves kid-free date night with her husband, family vacations, and kids’ bedtime, aka, the human version of whack-a-mole.