"WORDS ARE, IN MY NOT-SO-HUMBLE OPINION, OUR MOST INEXHAUSTIBLE SOURCE OF MAGIC. CAPABLE OF BOTH INFLICTING INJURY, AND REMEDYING IT." ~ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why Bother?

Every creative person will have a bad day. A bad week. A bad month. It's inescapable. Creativity isn't like... I don't know... math, where there's always the right answer. It has to be nurtured--and given breaks. Sometimes it'll take a beak on you before you're ready. And that's okay. Because you're a creative person, and it's going to come back.

You'll face disappointment. I'm sure you have already. Maybe you're sick of getting rejections; maybe your book didn't sell as well as you wanted it to; maybe your publisher didn't love your second book as much as they loved your first... I'm sure the list could go on and on--and all of those things are extremely disappointing. Give yourself time to process them, because that's life: you have to face the downside sometimes.

If you wallow too long in disappointment though, it can slick right over to the dark side. Because when you concentrate so hard on the things that aren't going well, it casts a shadow over everything else. Negativity is a tumor that sits there and grows and grows and grows until it consumes you--until it's a complete barrier in your path to creativity. And the more you let it go, the harder it is to push it back. And you know you know what I'm talking about.

So, if day after week after month, you're stuck on the things that haven't gone well for you, or the things you're worried won't go well, or if you're paralyzingly frustrated about how unfair you think everything in this industry is--it's time to snap out of it. Because if you're stressed and worried and unhappy more than you're happy... Well then, this is where the title of the post comes in.

Why bother?

Writing is a job you choose for yourself. There aren't many people out there who began writing because they were in dire straits and needed to provide for their family. If you're struggling financially, you're NOT gonna pick up a pencil or type out a story thinking it'll bring in the income you need by the time you need it. You don't have to write to live.

Okay, and it's quite possible you're sitting there thinking: Why is she writing this post? It's so negative! But it's not, I promise!

My point is that it's much easier to focus on the fear than on the hope. And I think that's a bad route to take. Yeah, self-doubt is natural. Disappointment is inevitable. But you wouldn't be writing if you didn't believe in yourself, because like I said--you don't have to write.

You choose to write. So reward yourself for doing so, for taking the risk. Keep your focus on why you do it. We write because we love to write. We write because we're storytellers--or, at least, we aspire to be. It's what makes us happy.

Concentrate on how good it feels when the words are pouring out of your fingertips. And if you're having a spell when they're slower to come, have faith that they'll return--because they will.

Remember it only takes one agent to fall in love with, and champion, your story--and some of the greatest authors out there had hundreds of rejections along the path. If you follow in their shoes, it's not such a bad thing! Same with editors. Different people have different tastes, and there's nothing you can do about that, so try not to dwell on it. Just believe in yourself, and believe that someone is going to love your words enough to buy them.

Write your book. Make it the best one you can. Then make it better. And again after that :)

Enjoy the process, don't let it bury you. Because when you let it bury you, it stops being fun. And why on earth would you choose to do this if it's not fun?

I don't know, maybe it's just me. But when I force myself to keep a positive attitude (because, yes, sometimes it is a decision rather than a natural process)--or when I at least force myself not to be negative--things really do go better. I don't struggle as hard to make the words flow, and life is just more fun in general.

So try it! If you're feeling down about about any part of the process, snap yourself out of it. Force yourself to remember the things you love about writing, and then focus on those things. Let everything else fade away.

Concentrate on you and the words and the creativity that makes you who you are. Do this the majority of the time.


That's what I try to do, anyway :)

Thanks for stopping by!!
Sara

33 comments:

  1. Love this post - and posted on something similar over the weekend and today over at QT. Love your attitude about it all!

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  2. Wow, this was much needed this morning. Great post! :)

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  3. Ha! Where were you this weekend when I was going through this. Fortunately I read Christine's post on Saturday (or Sunday).

    I received feedback on Friday after winning a 10 page crit from an agent. She said my beginning was decent (ouch!) BUT . . .

    I was paralyzed and only read the one sentence that came in the email. After talking to one of my writer friends (who's read my book twice), I decided to put the project aside (without reading the full feedback) and finish off my new wip (still have 40,000 words to write).

    But two days later, while running, ideas started to come to me based on the agent's one sentence. I've put my new wip on hold and will be going through the agent's comments this week (after I analyze first chapters from my favorite books). Hopefully I can come up with something beyond "decent." Decent doesn't land you requests. ;)

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  4. Great post! I really needed to read this today. I agree that happiness can be a decision you make. I'm trying to make it today when it comes to the revisions from hell!

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  5. Thank you for this post--it's so inspiring. I definitely need to adopt that positive attitude you have!

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  6. Looks like somebody doesn't have a case of The Mondays. ;) Very inspiring.

    It's getting clooossseerrrrr. xo

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  7. Great post! And very, very true. So much of it is attitude as well as luck and talent.

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  8. Great post, Sara! Looking at my schedule for the next few months, I think I might have to bookmark this and read it several times :) Thanks

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  9. Inspiring post Sara! It's so true, our own attitude makes or breaks our creative flow. And if we let one thing get us down, and are thus unable to write, then a small problem becomes a much bigger one very quickly!

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  10. How true! Your attitude is everything!

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  11. Haha, was this aimed at me??

    I am definitely prone to angst and negativity, but that's my surface crazy. I think in my heart I always have quite a lot of hope and optimism about things, and it may be BECAUSE of that that I can become so negative on the outside. It's a way of protecting my very vulnerable and squishy insides. I'm like a crab.

    For me, though, I've found that the key is not to try to snap out of the negative thinking. It just takes entirely too much energy and never really works for me. The negativity is still there, just pushed to the side. It's easier for me to let it run its course and get out of my system. The trick is to recognize when it's irrational so that it doesn't rock me as much. So it's okay if I'm thinking "I'm a terrible writer! I fail at everything! I'm such a loser" as long as a part of me is reminding myself that this isn't true, I'm just having a bad day, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

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  12. Great post and great timing--thanks!

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  13. Hehe--yet another reason I love you as my CP. You always keep my head in the positive place it needs to be. Lovely post girlie!

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  14. I absolutely love that poster at the end of your post! This is a great post, Sara, and exactly what I needed to hear this morning - especially since I was given two cupcakes for breakfast!! :-(

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  15. What a great post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, it was very needed!

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  16. I'm getting out my sledgehammer to break through the tiny little crack in the window today ;)

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  17. As always, a fabulous thoughtful post. :)

    I'm fortunate in that I don't get down easily and when something does manage to get me down, it only lasts for minutes, if that. But I recognize that a lot of people do struggle with this, especially creative people.
    I hope they read this post. :)

    Love,
    Lola

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  18. This is just what I needed to read today. Thank you! :-)

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  19. love this! And what a picture you found to go with it.
    As usual, you've nailed this. Love your blog.

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  20. Very inspiring and I always need to hear this!

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  21. Just stumbled upon your blog today. I'm feeling particularly hopeful today so your post has reaffirmed my attitude :)
    Great post, and you can be sure I'll stick around :D

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  22. Great post! I needed this today, thanks!

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  23. Yup, I need to dive back into the process again.

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  24. Yes, yes, and yes! I have been in this unhappy more than happy place. And it's hard to dig yourself out, but dig you must.

    Remembering why I write helps me a lot. Great post!

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  25. You have a wonderful attitude and mindset. Write on.

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  26. Great post Sara! I love the part about rewarding yourself for taking risks. That's terrific advice!! :)

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  27. I've been having a rough week, and totally needed to read this. Thanks. :)

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  28. I love your optimism. Thanks for the encouraging words. What I write becomes a part of me and I have to enjoy it, or it will only bring disappointment.

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Yay! I love when you have things to add :)