But I've been writing for five years and this is as close as I've come to seeing fruition of my goals. I know how hard it is to push through self-doubt and keep writing when the victories are not there. And this happens to all writers, published or unpublished. Apparently, the self-doubt and "this time they'll know I'm a fraud" thoughts creep into writers' minds on a very regular basis.
So how does one push past the fear and do it anyway? How does one go forth when the road is full of holes and one doesn't see any validation?
I don't have all the answers, but I have a few tricks that work for me. Here are some of them:
1) Write down a list of your strengths and post in on a wall or door in the place where you slog and slave over those novels. My list is taped on the inside of of office closet door. I open it up and stare at it a lot.
2) Write down at least 10 successes you've had in your life. One of mine is "teaching myself how to parent and I am a raising a good child to be a citizen of the world." (it doesn't have to be about writing--all of who you are goes into the process).
3) If someone sends you a note that praises you for who you are, keep it.
4) Celebrate EVERY writing milestone. I celebrate when I finish a first draft, revise, submit, query, final in a contest, place in a contest, meet my writing goals. Yesterday I printed the list of finalists for the Maggies and taped that up. Celebrate the fact that every time you get something done, you are actively pursuing your goals and dreams.
5) Post a quote that motivates you. I have one by Delle Jacobs: The object of goals is getting there... the object of dreams is the journey."
6) Write down things that make you happy. When you are facing a disappointment, do one or many of them to bring joy back into your life and restore your desire to create.
7) Surround yourself with people who edify your goals and dreams. People who are your cheerleaders. Your writing chapters are one major place to share your visions and dreams. But there are other people who want you to succeed who aren't writers. Keep them close. The other people who aren't positive, well, you know what they say about vampires. If you invite them into your house, they have permission to shoot for the jugular. I don't let emotional vampires into my life and that includes family members who are not my cheerleaders.
8) Call someone when you are stuck on a plot point, hash it out over the phone. Or meet for coffee and work it out there. Seek help.
9) They say write every day, but it's more than writing. It's feeding your creative soul. Read about the craft, learn about the craft, take on-line courses, study, and grow as a writer. Be open to feedback.
10) A practical way to keep writing on days that you'd rather pick up lint is to turn on a timer. I use my microwave timer. I set it for 60 minutes, sit down, stare at the computer. Write. When it beeps, I am occasionally relieved. Usually I am so engrossed in the story, I am sorry it is beeping. But I get up, take a break, make some coffee, whatever, and then it's back in the chair I go.
11) For those of you who work outside the home, and/or raise a family, I know it is even harder and you might feel pulled in a million directions. But give yourself permission to carve out a block of time to write. If it's only a 1/2 an hour, so be it. You'd be amazed at how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes. If you can, shoot for an hour. Even better. Work at creating speed and momentum.
12) The Personal Pity Party (aka: wine and chocolate for me and a bit of shopping) on bad days (like when I didn't final in the GH). You're allowed to do that -- for a finite time. Then get back in the chair. Tell yourself whatever you have to in order to get past the disappointment. I am an expert at self-delusion. When my scores came in, I said, "wow, I almost made it to the top half of the group. Cool!" Haha but it worked.
13) Remember that your journey is unique. Everyone has a different timeline and a different goal. Who knows when things will happen for you? For some it is winning a major competition. For others, it's finally getting the call. For published writers, it might be going from mid-list to NYT Best Seller list. Who knows? Don't worry about other people's journeys. Only be concerned with your own.
13) Park jealousy. It isn't healthy. It's bad karma. And it'll bite you in the behind. Be happy for those who walk ahead of you. They are carving a path for all of us.
14) Share what you have learned with those you know. Don't hoard. If you are open, the universe will open up even wider for you. Watch your opportunities grow as you become more giving.
15) Allow yourself to take breaks. Real breaks from writing between projects. Go and play. See a movie, go out with friends, fritz around and do nothing, and gasp... even get bored. Let your mind be refreshed and renewed. Then get back in the chair. Note: you must set a finite amount of time for the break and you must have start date in order to get back in the chair.
These are just some of my tricks. I'm sure many of you have other ideas to share. I'd love to learn how you get BICHOK: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keys.