Friday, January 16, 2015

Invisible Deadlines and Staying the Course

“So how’s the writing coming along?” asks every person who knows you’re a writer.
(Better than "So when's your book gonna get published?" by a landslide, let me just say!) 
How many of you know the progress question can strike you different at different times? When we are on a roll with our current WIP the answer will more than likely gush from an endless well of enthusiasm. (Possibly to the dismay of the well-meaning friend who now knows more about your main character’s emotional journey than they had time for.) I don’t know many writers who don’t like talking about their stories. Kinda goes with the territory. We’re storytellers after all. There’s a story to be told even in writing a story. Confused yet?

On the other side of the coin there are dry seasons where talking about your inspiration, or lack thereof, sounds about as appealing as a case of the stomach flu. (Having just visited that toilet bowl let me assure you, not fun.) Maybe you lost some writing time, or perhaps you’re battling a bout of the dreaded malady that shall not be named (writer’s bl***) Eek!

Many of our ships haven’t come in and we are still on the journey to publication. So how do we stay motivated when life inevitably steals our free time? I mean, it’s great if you can treat writing like a job instead of a hobby, but until you’re earning a paycheck you’re not technically accountable to anyone but yourself (and perhaps those imaginary friends anxiously pestering you for their HEA.) We may set our own deadlines but, let's face it, we made those up. We fall behind, no biggie. We're not in breach of contract. No panicked all-nighters to catch up. We re-adjust and try again. It’s good to have a goal, keeps you focused but when the road is long, you’re getting weary of rejections and hearing all the good news of your writing friends leaving you in the dust. How, then, when times get hard, do you find the strength to stay the course?

I’m here. Pounding the pavement with you. The heroine in my own story, hear me roar! ;) And I’ve got some sustenance for your journey.

-Write because you love it! Not because you want to get rich and quit your day job. It doesn’t mean the road will be easy, but it sure seems easier when you’re enjoying the journey.

-Stop comparing yourself to other writers. It’s a trap! Your story, your voice, your journey, they are all unique. Strive for greatness but let your story unfold naturally. You'll be surprised by how much you learn and grow in those unexpected detours.

-Stay positive. It’s easy to get discouraged in this business. Critiques, rejections, and criticisms aren’t usually all that palatable. Treat it as a learning experience, and don’t let positive feedback get trampled under the negatives. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Respect theirs but keep your chin up and keep believing in yours.

-Get an accountability partner. And check in. Ever make excuses to yourself? You were busy. The kids were sick. The house wasn’t going to clean itself. It’s easier to stay on track when someone else will know if you’re slacking off. Get yourself a goal and let someone know you're chipping away at it.

-Build a team. Support other writers. Be a critique partner. Endorse your friends’ books. Encourage and be encouraged. Sometimes it hard to see others succeed when you’re still floundering, but when your time comes, and especially until then, you’ll want those people by your side. Iron sharpens iron.

-Don’t give up! I’ve heard it said that successful authors are just writers who refused to give up. Don’t let anyone steal your passion and your dream. Keep writing until you reach goals and then write some more.
Happy Friday! Have a blessed weekend!
Amy Leigh Simpson is a writer, singer, runner, foodie, coffee-lovin’-chocoholic. When she’s not dreaming up saucy love stories sprinkled with suspense and mystery, she’s chasing around her two adorable tow-headed toddler miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with her miracle princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most hunky hero on the planet (sorry, ladies—taken). Though Amy doesn’t use her Sports Medicine degree for anything but patching up daily boo boo’s, she enjoys weaving medical aspects into her writing. Represented by the oh-so-wise and dashing Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.


kaybee said...

Good advice Amy, especially for mid-January when some of us are already wondering what happened to our goals.
Kathy Bailey

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great suggestions, Amy! I have an accountability partner. We email almost every day. It does help, knowing I'll have to report back to her on what I did (or didn't) accomplish.

I hope you and your family feel better soon!

Unknown said...

Wise words, Amy! The journey to publication is so long. Thanks for inspiring me today (and all the other unpublished authors out there) to persevere.


Sarah Forgrave said...

Love this, Amy! Thanks for the much-needed fist pump. :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Kathy, I'm right there with ya! Need to hit refresh on my goals already!

Jeanne, I just got an accountability partner! It's helping immensely, even in a short time I'm feeling more motivated 😊

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Thanks Janice and Sarah! So glad you stopped by!!!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Love this, Amy!! Great truths here. My favourite is "so have you been published yet?" LOL - like, what's keeping you? Note to self: JUST KEEP SMILING AND DON'T SAY ANYTHING YOU'LL REGRET. Ha! Oh, and cool pin!! Love it!!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Lol, Karen! Right, yes, I'll just snap my fingers and have a book deal. Like it's easy or something? Ha!! Yeah, I do a lot of bogus smiling and biting my tongue when those questions are delivered in that condescending way :)

Ashley Clark said...

Love this Ames! Wise words! And very appropriate, as I'm waiting to hear back about my Grace story! :D

FAith A. Colburn said...

Hi. All hangups that can get in the way, aren't they. You get so familiar with your work, it's hard to remember its value. You read a very well put together book and think "I'll never be able to do that." Sometimes hard to keep on keepin' on. Thanks for the post.