Week thirty-six after the second day of the new year
This week’s post is in its entirety a tip from Author and Sister. Whatever stage you’re in in what you’re writing, or whatever it is that you do if you’re not a writer, Author and Sister hope this post will help you when you find yourself entangled in the kind of thoughts that stop you from achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.
And so here it is: one thing you should try to avoid is the feeling that you’re inadequate, that you’ve not done enough, that you’ve wasted time, that others are getting so much more done than you do. It’s a discouraging feeling that is bound to make you angry at yourself and lead you to feel that you’ve achieved nothing and are getting nowhere. It’s the kind of feeling that gets in your way, that makes you fret and doesn’t let you focus on your work. Next thing you know you feel you’re failing.
What you’re forgetting is that everyone works differently. For the writers among you—you can’t really compare the way different writers work. Every writer has her or his own way of doing things. And then there’s the story, what it needs. What it needs from you. That too differs between stories and between writers. And if you just happen to be a new writer, you need to give yourself time. Experience changes so much, but you have to let it accumulate. No one is born with all the knowledge they need or want, we all have to start from somewhere and acquire the know-how and experience we seek, and that takes time and effort. If you want to be a published author, and if you’re willing to work for it, you’ll find your pace with time and experience. And the same goes for those of you who are on the marketing side, working alongside your writer. There are endless details to take care of, so many things to do. And sometimes things take longer than you thought, or new ideas, new angles, and yes, new challenges pop up, and there are delays. Be flexible, move things around if you need to. But don’t be discouraged. Think of the moment your work is done and the book is out there with everybody’s eyes on it—a testament to the author and the publicist’s work coming together in the way you’ve waited for it to. And this also goes for all non-writers, non-anything-book-related. Every person starts with different background and experience, and every person has a way of learning, an effort required to do, a time it takes to progress and to achieve. And that’s fine.
And then there’s life, of course, and life tends to have its say in everything you do. You might feel you have a routine in which you can plan ahead, get what you want to do done. And when something disrupts that routine, you might be frustrated that time was taken away from you, time you had wanted to work in. Once again you’re pressured, stress overwhelms you, your mood interferes with your work, and there’s that feeling of failure all over again. But the thing is, things happen all the time. We like to think in terms of routines and what interrupts them, but is there really such a thing as a routine, all the more so in today’s pace of life? The fact is that there are always interruptions. And yet you do get what you want done. Some days are calmer and allow you to complete more of the tasks you’ve set for yourself, others are busier and disruptions are abundant. Some days worries arise that stay with you for a while and affect your work, in others you’re distracted for whatever reason. We’re all human, and we all have lives our work is just one element in. And yet we get things done.
And that’s something else you should remember: different people have different lives. You might not be able to give writing, or whatever else it is that you do, as much time as you’d want to in your day-to-day life, while others might be able to do so. And it doesn’t have to be a matter of the life you lead—some periods in our lives are calmer, some stormier. It won’t do for you to compare your progress to that of others, because others have different lives than yours, they do other things, live in other circumstances. All you can do is do the best you can in your own life, and remember that with time, and progress—yes, progress will come—you might well be able to make changes in your life that will allow you more time for what you want. Criticizing yourself won’t help. Feeling that you’re inadequate won’t help. Doing what you can, no matter how small the steps, and moving forward, will make a difference. That’s the key, moving forward. The horizon isn’t moving, it’s still there. You will reach your goal.
One thing Author and Sister can suggest is that you try to keep some sort of a record of what you do each day. You don’t have to write the exact time that you do a task, or its exact duration. All you’re trying to do is get an idea of what you do during your day, not make the list into another tedious and time-consuming chore. Just make a general list—you can perhaps keep a document open on your device of choice, be it a phone, a tablet or a laptop, or just a small notepad and pen, whatever works for you. Jot down what you’ve done throughout the day. Do it for a couple of weeks, get an idea of what your day looks like, how much of your time is being used toward progress in your book and its publication, or any other task you’re trying to complete, the goal you want to reach. You might find that you’re doing things twice because you’re not organized, or that some things take you longer although they shouldn’t, so that they need to be handled more efficiently, or perhaps you’re jumping from task to task, not completing them properly. It’s okay, don’t let that discourage you. Just do better next time. Remember, we all have a learning curve, we all have things that we do better and things that we don’t, and we all learn with time. Experience will teach you what you need to know. And now, you know the drill: get back to work.