Writing is fantastic for creative expression, helping others, or even building a business, but there are always days when we can feel like it's too much, when we get discouraged, when we need a boost to continue along the author journey.
In today's article, Sara Crawford outlines some ways to stay positive as a writer.
For us writers, there's nothing that brings as much joy as creating stories and sharing them with the world.
There's also nothing that brings us as much pain.
So what do you do on those days when you feel like curling up into a ball and never writing again? The days when you get stinging 2-star reviews on Goodreads? The days when you obsessively refresh your KDP dashboard, but the sales don't go up?
The days when that successful author's ad keeps coming up on your Facebook news feed and you can't stop wishing your books were doing as well as hers? The days when you just can't figure out how to end your work in progress?
No matter which way you choose to publish, there are always going to be days where it's just plain difficult. There are always going to be times when you have to deal with rejection, criticism, and failure.
So how do you stay positive?
Here are some things that have helped me.
1. Turn to Other Authors for Support
Join a community of authors. There are tons of welcoming groups online. You can try a Facebook group for indie authors like 20Booksto50K. You can join broader groups for all writers like the #writestuff community. You can even go old school and browse MeetUp.com for in-person writing groups near you.
I never would have been able to produce my own plays or films without the friends who stepped up to help me. And on the most discouraging days, it’s the support from my writer friends that gives me the fuel to keep going.
2. Listen to/Read Encouraging Podcasts/Blog Posts
There are a ton of great blogs and podcasts for writers of all kinds. The Sell More Books Show, Publishing Crawl, and of course, The Creative Penn podcast are some of my favorite podcasts, and The Write Life, Positive Writer, and of course, The Creative Penn blog are some of my favorite blogs.
Some of these are geared towards indie authors or traditionally published authors, but all of them have great advice and encouragement for writers.
3. Lose Yourself in a Great Book
It’s easy to get bogged down in reviews, sales, marketing, etc. and forget what it is you actually love about storytelling. Sometimes reading someone else's stories is an easier way to remember everything you love about storytelling. This is why it can be great to shut out all of the voices and immerse yourself fully in a fantastic read.
If you’re feeling discouraged about being an indie author, it’s inspiring to read another indie author’s book. And there are a ton of amazing indie books to choose from. The best thing about being a reader today is that there have never been more choices of books you will love.
4. Start a Meditation Practice
Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, meditation is proven to reduce stress and leave you feeling more focused and refreshed. Even if you only have time to meditate for five minutes a day, it’s better than nothing.
For some people, meditation means sitting in silence in the lotus position on a pillow in a room with lit incense and wind chimes, but it doesn’t have to.
It could just mean sitting quietly and listening to relaxing instrumental music. It could mean coloring in a mindfulness coloring book or crocheting a scarf. The point is to find whatever works for you.
If you are more spiritual or religious, you can incorporate prayer into your meditation practice. If you’re an atheist, you can just think of it as giving your brain time to rest. Meditation is a beneficial practice for everyone—no matter what you believe.
5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Authors
It’s easy to get stuck looking at the bestsellers on Amazon and wish your book was ranking higher. It’s easy to see what your author friends are posting about on Twitter and Facebook and start thinking “why isn’t that happening to my book?”
Art is not a competition.
There is more than enough room in the world for all of the authors and books that are out there. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Just focus on writing your stories and connecting with the readers that love them.
If you haven’t found those people yet, have patience. Instead of lamenting that other authors have devoted readers, use that energy to find new ways to promote your books. There are people out there who will become devoted readers of your books. You just have to find them.
Some people tend to get overwhelmed and discouraged by the high number of indie authors and the fact that it keeps increasing. However, as Joanna has reminded us on her podcast, when someone becomes more serious as a writer, it's likely they will read more books as well.
I know that my reading has increased immensely since I started self-publishing my books. So we should be glad whenever someone writes and publishes a book!
More authors in the world means more avid readers in the world, which is good for everyone.
6. Keep a Gratitude Journal
This is a great practice no matter who you are, but you can have a writing-specific gratitude list. Instead of complaining that only five people bought your book last month, be grateful that five people bought your book.
There’s always something to be grateful for. Maybe it’s having the time and discipline to write 2,000 words today. Maybe it’s discovering new music you love to write to. Maybe it’s one splendid review or e-mail from a reader you got. Maybe it’s simply publishing your book. (Twenty years ago, it wasn’t nearly as easy to do that!)
Maybe it’s that new software that made writing easier. Maybe it’s the new journal you bought. Maybe it’s your laptop or the electricity that powers your laptop or the easy access to resources that can help you.
The truth is that there has never been a better time to be a writer. The internet has given us immediate access to helpful resources that can make us better writers, give us tools to write more efficiently, and help us promote our books. Digital books, self-publishing, and blogs give us the opportunity to share our writing with the world whenever we want to.
7. Just. Keep. Writing.
When all is said and done, the best way to stay positive about writing is to forget everything else and just write. Presumably, you love the writing process. (If you don't love it, why are you doing it?)
Doing the thing you love most in the world will make it easier to handle the aspects of being a writer or author that you don’t love.
In Finding Nemo, Dory reminds us to “just keep swimming”. So when you get discouraged by reviews, sales, criticism, marketing, publishing, rejection, or any other aspect of being a writer, the best thing to do is just keep writing.
What do you do to lift yourself up when you feel down about writing? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Sara Crawford is a playwright, author, and musician from Kennesaw, Georgia. Ever since she was a 7-year-old writing plays for the neighbors to perform in her driveway, she has been in love with storytelling. She is the author of the young adult urban fantasy series about the magic of inspiration and art called The Muse Chronicles. She is also a creative writing professor in the online graduate program at Southern New Hampshire University. You can find out more about her at SaraCrawford.net.