So I’ve been quiet on Novel Girl lately. I’m sorry, my dear followers! I loves you all lots. But I’ve had to take time to reconnect with me.
You all know what I mean.
You’re writers. You are creative spirits. You live off the grey, not the black and white. You feed from the hope of possibility. You hold your breath for your email to ding or your sales stats to refresh, all the while with your bottom lip tugged under your teeth. You fail. You cry. You whine. You try. X 10.
So you may see where I’m going with this post. Before I go there, I need to thank LOTS of people. Lauren, Beth, L, Ari, Simone and Tamsyn in particular. I hit shit luck and not only sunk into writer woe but total writer woe that encompassed my life turning into life woe, too. It’s just the way it happens in my profession. And I’m so very appreciative to have kind friends who put up with me and helped me out through some hard times.
I know so many others probably feel similar if not exactly the same to how I’ve been feeling. I’m coming out of that phase now — “seeing the light” so to speak. Below, I’m going to share my thoughts on how it occurs and how to get out of it. Tips, so to speak.
Let’s break down the causes so we can face straight-on what we’re dealing with.
- A beta reader/critique partner is harsh in their feedback nature, may call you and/or your work harsh names, trashes you and/or manuscript with no helpful advice.
- You are stalked by haters of your work either by hate mail, fake and nasty reviews, social media trolls who slander or talk down to you on their profiles or comment/interact so on yours.
- Lots of your writer friends are winning awards, getting amazing reviews, or hitting bestseller lists and you are dismal in comparison.
- Your book isn’t selling.
- You’ve read books that in your opinion are bad quality or nothing special and they’re making leaps and bounds with success and you aren’t selling though your books are getting great reviews or you and your beta readers/critique partners feel your quality is extremely high.
- You are on social media, especially Facebook, at least every few hours and spend probably hours a day on there.
- You are always seeking out posts/tweets/statuses from fellow authors or bloggers and saddened when you aren’t mentioned or when they don’t like your work or they simply ignore you.
- You see other authors talking or even boasting about certain successes and you spontaneously compare yourself, deeming yourself not as good and it depresses you.
- Your days are filled with marketing tasks and you rarely get time to write.
- You get sad so you make a vague post or maybe even a blatant rant on social media and then you get a tonne of comments and you are all depressed by helping each other sharing depressing replies/comments.
- You seek out forums or websites where you know you are talked badly about and read updates to see what the latest news is.
- Take a break from the writing world. The severity depends on what you feel you need. Sometimes a total block can be bad. Coming back to a zillion emails and essential social media messages that could have been beneficial to your career, but are now missed opportunities could sink you back into depression. So just limit yourself. Check all writing work related stuff on technology once a day? Max twice a day?
- Focus on happiness. It’s just fact that if you surround yourself with negativity, you become that negativity. We all need to cry or complain to our best friends in private, and that’s normal. What is unhealthy is publicly discussing your woes / anger / frustrations / hardships. I’m not kidding. Stop interacting in negative social media posts, stop scrolling through Facebook feeds so often and stop telling yourself negative things about your career and success. This is guaranteed to make you feel better, even if just marginally.
- Stop comparing yourself to other writers. This quote sums it up: “If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter, but if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.” — kushandwizdom.tumblr.com
- If you hate reading, don’t force it. Lots of people may tell you to “relax and just read a book.” Well chances are if you are like me you get so hateful with anything linked to authordom or publishing that reading — a huge factor — becomes the last thing you want to deal with. So don’t. We are creative people so instead watch music videos, start a new TV series, watch a movie. These are helpful to kickstart your creativity and ideas but are totally different from the world you need to get away from.
- Get obsessed with something else. I’m lucky that as well as being an author I’m also a designer for my business, Berto Designs. For me, that means getting supplies, doing extra work, fixing my website, extra marketing and interaction with potential clients. This helped me focus on what I love. I also have a dog who’s rather like my child as I don’t have any. He has been getting lots of pats and walks and play-time and cuddles. I also focused on my boyfriend for the first time in probably years. It’s been freeing and beautiful. I’m remembering that I have a life outside of writing and we need that. Writing has its downs and you need to remember you’re an awesome person away from that. Maybe for you this other obsession can be spending time with your kids, cooking, playing video games, fishing, shooting (animals and legally of course if you’re allowed), cleaning the garage, emptying your clothes and sending the extras to goodwill, etc.
- See your friends! I do not kid. You are actually allowed to see them. And you don’t have to worry about coming home early to sneak in some book promotion or writing another chapter. You can really just got out and enjoy yourself totally in the moment. No other worries. Okay?
- Read good reviews/manuscript feedback. We are told not to read reviews because it’s detrimental to our feelings but the good ones are little miracles! *Just make sure you can access these good reviews without running into the bad ones* It doesn’t matter if you have 1 or 100 glowing, oh-my-god, amazing reviews. Read one. or ten. Or every single review you’ve ever gotten. The fact that a stranger, or at least a person who you never would have known if not for the love of your work, can love something you did that much is proof that you are awesome. Remember opinions are like assholes: everyone has one.
- Write a letter to yourself. Go on and trash the shit out of yourself or someone else or The World. But you must do it by pen and paper. You need to stay away from technology since it’s highly likely it’s mixed up in all the depression you have about the writing world. After you’ve written out all your feelings reflect on what seemed most prominent. Use that information to create a plan as to what positive things you need to do to become happy again.
- Give yourself time and do not rush this stage. The most crucial advice I can give you is to stop worrying about taking too much time. If you’re like me you will never ever publish anything less than your best work you could achieve at a particular time. Going back into writing hateful will result in shitty work out there that you will later regret. Everyone goes through this, so allow yourself to be normal. Relax, forget your worries. Meditate. You can even sit in bed with the covers up to your chin and play your solitaire app until you need to recharge your phone and lucky for you your charger is an arm’s reach away from you because your battery is suddenly a few percent.
Writing is your life, and you will go back to it when you are truly ready.
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So, yeah I rambled lots there, but I hope that helped you. Please add your tips or share your stories in the comments if you’d like to.
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