Let me tell you where I’m at in this whole publishing thing.
It’s a little too much.
I mean, I have my first writer’s conference coming up. When I first signed up for that, I was thinking “hey, this might be a nice learning experience and I may get an agent out of the whole endeavor”.
I was not prepared for the onslaught of “to-dos” that went into an interview with an agent at a conference. There were so many intricate details that I never even thought of, and soon the list became seemingly insurmountable. The whole thing had lost it’s original charm. Part of me wanted to back out and throw in the towel. The “oh no I need to do this” and the “oh crap what about that” list began to grow and grow until I was sure it was the length of a CVS receipt.
It was robbing me of the joy I could have in this moment. Everything is unsure. Everything is new. There are a thousand different ways this could end, and while 995 of them are worst case scenario, I could hope for the 5 that aren’t! The incessant replaying of the endless ways I could fall flat on my face were being completely counter-productive!
So, if you’re in the same overwhelmed boat that I find myself in, here are a few things that keep me going. I think they’ll keep you going, too.
- It is okay to fail.
So what if you make an idiot out of yourself? It keeps you humble. Every time you pick yourself up off the ground and shake the dust off, you find out what you’re made of. Your Instagram captions get put to the test and you finally figure out if you have the guts to do this. To fail miserably, get back up, and try again.
Neil Gaiman once said:
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.
Take those words. Memorize them. Graffiti them on the side of your house if you must. Don’t forget that wisdom.
- Chase the spark.
What makes you grit your teeth and run headlong into the unknown? What makes you take that kind of risk?
It’s that spark.
Know where your spark ignites, then set up camp there. Life is too short to play with anything but fire, so find your spark and let it burn! That flame is there for a reason. When you feel that burning, don’t quench it because it’s “too much” for you to understand. Take it. Study it. Learn it inside and out. Test it. Think it through and then make a plan to see it through!
Which brings me to my next point.
- Have a plan.
No, not an “I’m going to publish my novel” plan.
I’m talking about a “this is how I’m going to publish my novel” plan that starts with Step 1 and goes to Step 74. Readers aren’t going to come to your door with a dozen red roses begging for your manuscript. How are you going to get your book on the shelf and into the hands of readers?
I can tell you right now, it’s not by stalking your ex’s Instagram page. So stop that and get to work!
I highly suggest researching tips, tricks, and how-to articles for your genre. Those are the things that put my mind at ease and helped me devise a plan that I can feel (somewhat) secure in.
- Lastly, don’t make it your only reason for existence.
Your best friend misses you… and she’s sick of hearing about your book. Your dog misses you throwing his ball. Your parents miss the conversations consisting entirely of guttural grunts while you scroll Pinterest on the couch. Even if you never publish your book, it will be okay. You have been given a beautiful life right where you are. Be “there” while you can, because these days will eventually be the “good old days”, and you can’t waste them away.
Writing is life, I get it. However, you are a human being before you are an author. Regardless of whether or not you ever publish, those human relationships cannot be recovered once lost. Don’t forget to take time to live in this reality, too.
Enjoy life while it lasts! It’s going to kill you in the end, anyway.