Thursday, July 16, 2015

Surviving The Labor of Writing

Most of you know that two months ago, I had a beautiful baby boy. While pregnant, my husband and I took childbirth classes that came in handy when the time rolled around to have my baby. The whole experience of labor made me realize there are a lot of similarities between having a real baby and a fictional one! So today, let's talk about how to survive (and cope with) the labor of writing.

It's no secret that CBA is in changing times, and scoring a publishing deal can be a challenge for a first time author. But that doesn't mean we should despair, for God has called us to such a time as this (Esther 4:14). What can we do when the pains of the process come along?

  • Surrender control. One of the first things you learn in childbirth class is that you can't control the process, so rather than tensing up in an attempt to take over, you have to just let things roll. The same is true for the publication journey. You can try everything in your power to make things happen a certain way, but at the end of the day, you have to surrender to the process and roll with the punches, so to speak. If you can learn how to do that well, flexibility will give you a long career in the industry.
  • Breathe. This one speaks for itself. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and relax.
  • Let go of preconceived notions of what you think your publishing life will look like. Otherwise, you're bound for disappointment. If you're attempting a natural childbirth, you'll learn to visualize your ideal birth and shoot for that, but not expect it. I think the same is true for writing. You should set goals and work toward them; otherwise, you'll never make progress. But don't expect everything to go exactly according to plan, or else you'll have a hard time adjusting when it doesn't. 
  • Keep the end goal in mind. When you're having a baby, everyone will tell you it's pain with a purpose. Let me just say, when you're in the middle of a contraction, you don't really care if it's pain with a purpose. ;) But truly, if you keep the end goal in mind, it's much easier to keep each setback in perspective. Your baby--your story--will eventually get there. Each disappointment brings lessons that take you closer to your goals.
  • When you do finally get that contract, rejoice! It's so easy to get caught up in a new set of expectations and deadlines that you forget the big picture... you sold your story! Don't let the exhaustion of the process keep you from the magic of that moment.
Your turn! What strategies do you use to cope with the pains and setbacks of the writing process?


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Angie Quantrell said...

That support person that goes right through labor with you (both in the writing of a book/project and birthing of a baby) is one of my most important tools to deal with struggles and challenges and pain. Couldn't do it without my husband, who was the encouraging coach when our children were born and is now the encourager of my writing endeavors. Congratulations on your beautiful baby!

Ashley Clark said...

Oh, Angie! That is a great one and so true!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, love this post! Great insight, Ash! I can think of so many parallels in the journey. BREATHE! God's got this. We aren't responsible for pushing our stories into the world, but letting God birth them. Amen to all you say here about control!

Ashley Clark said...

Julia, love the language you use of God birthing stories!