Stress is a part of everyone's life. Managing that stress is what helps us to continue down a path like writing, which we all know can make a person crazy, want to quit regularly, feel inadequate, doubt our dreams, and repeatedly wonder, WHY NOT ME? Especially when you have friends or critique partners that have made it past the hurdle of getting an agent and then the bigger challenge of receiving a book deal with a reputable publishing house—a dream that to people like me starts to feel as out of reach as winning the state lottery or waking up, thinner, taller, younger.
If you're like me, the harder you work to pursue your writing dream, the less encouraged you become. Months turn into years and then you wake up one morning realizing for all your effort—late night revisions, cramped fingers, early morning revisions, burning eyes, lunch time revisions—all you have to show for it is a secretary's ass and a collection of rejections.
The sad thing is the advice I get from other authors is usually the same: You just haven't found the right agent yet. Keep submitting. It will happen. Don't give up. And all of that is helpful until I discover the author giving the advice got an agent with their first MS, or after three months of querying. That's when my posture sags, my frown lines deepen, and that tiny devil perched on my left shoulder says, "You don’t have it."
What do you do then?
I used to eat chocolate, drink wine, complain to friends/family/critique partners—isn't that what they're there for? But then I started doing something else. I stopped focusing on getting an agent and started focusing on why I began this writing journey. The number one reason: I love it! Writing is a part of me. I can't imagine a day without doing it or thinking about it. I realized then, I've always been like this. Even when I was too young to understand why I loved to take a day out with friends or family and turn it into a story.
After that, I decided I needed to take the pressure off myself. In the same way that I work and work and work to make sure my stories are perfect—before remembering that no story is perfect, because this is a very subjective industry. What one person hates, another loves—I had to remind myself that there is no perfect way to get an agent, or to get published. What worked for one person, might not work for you. Just like my stories are unique to me, so will my journey be. Once I adopted the mind frame that I can't control or force this to happen—that I can only do my best, send my work out and believe that when it's my time, it will happen for me—life became less stressful. Writing became less stressful.
Ironically, it reminded me of when I couldn't get pregnant with my second child. I had one baby already so hearing I couldn't conceive another was shocking—unbelievable—like I was suddenly defective. For years, I tried to force myself to get pregnant, doing everything the doctors, other people, and books told me to do, hoping I'd be next. Then one day a friend said, "Maybe this isn't about you. Maybe it's about your other child not being ready for a sibling, yet. Or the timing isn't right in your life, even though you think it is. Or the soul of the child chosen to be yours isn't ready. "
I'd never thought of anything like that before, but when I pondered her words something amazing happened. I no longer felt inadequate or undeserving. It took all the pressure off me and made me think, When it's my time, it will happen.
Hearing that changed my perspective. I decided to trust in that and when I did, the waiting and trying became less of a struggle and less disappointing.
My point is, I didn't have to stress to make it happen. Once I let the pressure go, it did, and the journey wasn't as bad as it could have been.
There is amazing freedom in simply believing your dreams can and will come true. Is it easy? No. But it's doable and, like anything else in life, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes.
So give yourself a break—if only for a day, or an hour. Take the pressure off yourself and just be happy. It's an incredible feeling and can become addictive.
I wish you all much success and a future of best sellers! Don't give up on your writing, because in doing so you'll be giving up on your dreams—on a part of you.
Most importantly, if this story has helped you or you have one of your own, PLEASE share it with us in the comments below. You can never have too much inspiration. Happy Thursday!