|Photo credit: changpp on Flickr|
We say things like, "Yes, it's a gorgeous day outside, but I must write this chapter," or, "Wow, I'm starving and haven't eaten in six hours BUT THIS SCENE. I MUST FINISH WRITING IT." Then we give our stories to other people and hope that they tear it apart (yes, hope) so that we can sew it back together (into hopefully something even better) with trembling fingers and bruised egos. Then, when all is said and done, we torture ourselves over writing these nightmarish things called a synopsis and query letter and we send them to professionals or we upload them online and bite are fingernails down to little nubs.
Yes, we writers are an interesting lot. Some may even say we're masochists (and who knows? They might be right).
But while a writer's number one goal is to improve his or her writing, remaining sane is also somewhat (ok, really) important. So here are some tips on how not to go crazy while embracing the life of the writer.
- Go out. It's very easy for writers to adopt some hermit-like qualities while in the midst of writing a book. I often have to remind myself (and have others remind me) to go out and breathe some fresh air and have a change of scenery. You'll be glad you did, especially when you don't go stir-crazy.
- Don't look back. After you send a query or partial
or full manuscript to an agent or publisher or critique partner/beta reader, it
can be very tempting for writers to glance back at what you wrote. You think to
yourself, one little peek won't hurt, then—BAM. You find a typo. ON THE FIRST
PAGE. Oh and that sentence makes no sense. And that paragraph is stupid. And,
Don't do this to yourself. What's been sent has been sent. No go write something else. Read a book. Anything. But for the love of all things fluffy and adorable, do NOT look back.
- Stop comparing. I'm relatively sure every writer has fallen into this trap at least once (I know I sure have), but there are absolutely no positive results from comparing yourself to other writers. It doesn't help you in any way to remind yourself that Christopher Paolini wrote and published his first book when he was fifteen or that you could write a better book than Twilight (or any other published book out there). It doesn't help you write your next book and it doesn't help your confidence, either. So stop it.
- Keep writing. When you've received well over a hundred rejection slips— keep writing. When you've trunked your third novel and you wonder if you'll ever be published— keep writing. When you have someone reading your WIP and you're terrified they're going to hate it— keep writing. Nothing reminds you better why you're subjecting yourself to this emotional roller coaster than finishing another novel. Than working on the next WIP.
What tips do you have for remaining sane while writing?