Twenty-eight weeks after the second day of the new year
Not a bad writing day. A bad day. And so, although this post is written by a writer to the writers among you, it is also intended for you, readers who do not write. It is relevant to all because it talks about having the kind of a bad day that affects your ability to do whatever it is that you have set out for yourself as a goal. After all, your work, your career if that is how you define it, does not stand alone. It is affected by whatever happens in your daily life, the life it is a component of. What Author does, writing, is affected by life around it. What Sister does as a publicist, a ManaSis, and everything else she tries to juggle, is affected by life around it. And the same goes for you.
As a writer, you work hard for months on end, you do what it takes regardless of the challenges that come your way and feel that you’re building a new self, that of an author. And then one morning you wake up to what you expect to be yet another ordinary day, your mind is on the tasks ahead, you rush on, and then something happens that stops you in your tracks, something that is bad enough to deeply upset and even dishearten you. Something goes wrong, or perhaps someone belittles or humiliates you, and you’re caught unprepared. You’re crushed. When that happens you instinctively turn inward, you rely on that feeling of self-worth that’s deep within you. You know who you are. You’re a writer, a published author, and whatever happened today can’t take this away from you. You’ll take a deep breath, settle yourself, then go back to your work, continue on your way of self-achievement, you’ll…
We tend to draw energy from the good things in our lives, and we tend to draw much of our self-worth from the success we attain in our work, our accomplishments. But writers work in solitude, it’s just them and the manuscript. And in the very beginning, when you’re writing your first story, you have no idea if you will succeed in finishing it, in forming it into a publishable book. And even then, you have no way of knowing if it will be accepted, if readers will want it. And so the questions gnaw at you: can I do this? And am I good enough? And you see others, established writers. Known writers, writers that you yourself read. And you compare yourself to them, forgetting that they have been there for years, have published more than a few books. Forgetting that they too were once where you are now. And you wonder if you can ever be like them. Will I too have some day readers eagerly awaiting a book of mine?
And the uncertainty doesn’t die down, it only increases. When your first book is finally published, you go to work on the next one. And the next one after that. And it might very well be that while you’re working on that second and third book, perhaps your fourth one, you still won’t know if you have made it as a writer. That feedback from the outside, readers’ acceptance, that could take time. Selling books, gaining recognition, knowing that you’ve succeeded in becoming an established author, that takes time. And throughout that time your thoughts—and let’s face it, your feelings—are ridden with self-doubt.
And so the kind of a bad day Author is talking about, a day in which something happens that somehow manages to put a wall between you and your belief in yourself, crushes you.
Which is why the rest of this post will be Author and Sister’s tip for you, in the hope that it will help you deal with those moments that are unbearable, when you are so lost: before you do anything else, talk to someone who loves you, and let them know you’re hurting. In the least, you’ll walk away knowing that you’re not alone. You might feel that you’re still unable to regain your footing, and you might still be far away from coming to terms with what happened to you, but the logical knowledge that you are not alone will be there, and that is a powerful thing to hold on to. Then, if what happened is still weighing heavily on your heart, and you feel unable to return to yourself, to who you are as a writer, then stay away from it. Do something else. Keep busy, perhaps something that doesn’t require thinking would be best. Something that has nothing to do with your book, would be best. You’re hurting, and since you can’t yet draw confidence from the fact that your books have drawn readers who await your next creation, you might view yourself and your work with a biased mind, you might think that neither is worth it. That’s not true, but you need to heal somewhat before you can see that, heal enough so that you can return to your writing and move forward again, which is the best way you have to remind yourself who you are. Don’t worry, you will find your way back. You’ll be okay. And the next time you have a bad day, you will find it easier to deal with. It will still be hard, bad days have a way of doing that. But you will know what to do. And who knows, perhaps by next time you will be able to draw confidence from the self-worth that comes with being an established author.
And one more thing: you’re probably all too aware of the passage of time. You want your book published, you want it marketed, you want achievement. You need achievement. Don’t let that be a source of stress. It’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to take a bit of time off. Not a lot, if you took too long Author would be the first to tell you to kick your own behind and get yourself back to work. But it is okay to stop for a bit, for a day, a week, do something else, let that weight be lifted from your heart, find yourself again.