I could have titled this ‘note to self,’ but I figure there are a lot more of us out there.
You see, 2015 was an incredible year professionally. I got to help write a book that is literally changing people’s lives. It was a health book I put together with one of the greatest chiropractic brains you’ll ever meet. Strike that, one of the greatest brains you’ll ever meet. Full stop.
This book connected the dots for people in such a powerful way that they were travelling from all over the state to see this practitioner. He then trained a whole lot of other practitioners so we could help more people get back in control of their health, linking a whole lot of so-called ‘random’ symptoms and giving simple techniques to get back in control of it. There were literally tears of joy as people realised that, for the first time, all was not lost. There was hope. It didn’t’ just make sense for the end user though.
My sister, who is studying chiropractic, was in a neuro lecture where the subject matter was going way over people’s heads. At the end, the lecturer said, “If you didn’t understand that, go buy this book.” She’d hear people talking about it in the cafeteria. It was changing lives and bringing the lightbulb moments. The first 3,000 books went in the first couple of months. The next 10,000 are churning away.
Proud sister moment.
I also got to write a novel that challenged and inspired Christian young people. Hearing what they got out of it, along with the plot points that they found incredibly gripping, was just so amazing. Hearing the ways in which the book challenged them to dream, to keep on trying and stay true to themselves when the world was telling them they were anomalies and should give up.
It was amazing. There were book trailers. There were launches in multiple locations.
Then 2016 ticked over and I was back at the start again. Oh gosh. The grind. The clunking mental gears. The character development arcs that seemed stuck at a point in time. I wanted to give up. I really did. Then, as serendipity always has it, I got an email.
The email simply thanked me for writing the book, and told me how excited this person was to read the next one. They spoke of how it showed them how all was not lost, no matter how hard life’s circumstances become, and how they needed to hear that they weren’t insignificant. The horizon was opening up again.
(Side bar: If you ever feel like writing a bit of encouraging fan mail to a writer, don’t hesitate! You might feel like a giant dork, but you never know how much it will help!)
At hubby’s suggestion, I took the week off, enjoyed life a little and tried to remember why I was writing in the first place. This was to get me through any quitting temptation and get me inspired for the right reasons again. Here is my list. I thought I’d share it just incase you, like me, are facing a little slump. Because being back at the beginning after you’ve finished a couple of beautifully crafted, perfectly polished pieces, is difficult!
- I’m not writing for money, even though its what I do for a living. If I do try to write for the money, then my eyes shift from the real goal – which is to tell a story that must be told. Nothing plugs up the inspiration channels like concentrating too hard on the $$$.
- There was a reason I started writing. It wasn’t to put another pointless story out into the world. It was to paint a picture of an important issue and inspire people through it. It’s so easy to get bogged down in keeping track of all the moving pieces in a story, and dwelling on how to take each character forward without weighing down the plot, that its easy to forget the ‘why’ of writing. I figure if I can’t get that ‘why’ down to one sentence that I can repeat to myself, then I haven’t got the motivation sorted in my head. But once I do, things get easier.
- Worry about success later. Its easy to let this worry cloud your perspective and kill any inspiration you might have to keep on writing. I admit. I got worried about this a couple of weeks back. Then I read the stats on just how many authors never sell 1,000 copies – self-published or traditional publishing. Wow! It made me realise that, with more than 5,000 copies sold across three titles, I’m doing pretty darn well! And I’m a hybrid published author who is building her following from scratch! Sheesh. The lesson: Stress less! You are doing fine! Just keep doing what you are doing. Success can come later. The journey comes now.
- When all else fails, just write something that is purposefully rubbish and COMPLETELY unrelated to what you are writing. Just do it for a couple of days to prime the pump again. You can go back to your big story later. For now, you’ve just got to remember what its like to love writing again.
I figure that its a bit like sleep. (I’ve never been good at that!) I love sleep. I mean, I really love it. Its just that some times I can’t do it. When I can’t do it, I start to worry about not being able to sleep. Then I can’t sleep because I’m worried about not being able to sleep. What an insidious little self-fulfilling prophecy! Do you think I can talk myself into not worrying about not being able to sleep, knowing that will be the answer to my problems? Nope! The dark side of the force is strong here.
But do I love sleep any less just because I am, at this point in time, a little bit afraid of it? Absolutely not.
The fact is that I love writing, even if sometimes I’m a little bit scared of it. Its less of a hobby or a vocation, and more of a primal need. Thats how I know that I’m doing the thing I was made to do. But its not always easy.
It is always worth it.
Dear discouraged writer – don’t give up. Someone needs to read your stuff, and if it never finds its way out of your brain and heart, and onto paper, they never can. Do something different this week. Remember why you are writing in the first place, then try again.
And maybe, just maybe, find the time to encourage another writer who might be in the same boat as you.
Happy new year. May it contain the realisation of a dream-book that has been trapped inside you for too long.
(Image cred: Copyright Clare McIvor feat. Dash Tamanabae)