Category Archive: Authors Dealing With

  1. Authors Dealing with – A Competitive Streak

    2 Comments

    A while ago I wrote a post called Authors Dealing with Doubt because it’s something close to my heart. I blog a lot about the emotional side of writing and, in all honesty, I don’t know if people find it helpful. Maybe people who come to my blog would prefer posts on how to get published or information on when the next book is coming out? Who knows.

    What I do know, however, is that having a career as an author is more than just getting words down on the page. To thrive in this type of career you need to understand that it’s not an easy path to take, and that it can take a toll on you mentally and emotionally. Thus, I decided to turn that one post into a series “Authors dealing with…” to look at the different emotional and mental challenges of being a writer.

    Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist or expert in this field. I’m simply one person who believes that talking about feelings is a positive thing. These are my opinions only.

    Authors Dealing with…a competitive streak

    I’ve recently discovered a game called Settlers of Catan. It’s a lot of fun, but playing board games with my husband and our friend (the three of us will happy play this for hours on end) can be a bit of a minefield. My husband is fiercely competitive and, while perhaps I’m not as forward about it, so am I.

    Settlers

    This competitive streak has both a negative and positive aspect. On the upside, the desire to win can fuel productivity and it can push you to work harder. But the downside is that a competitive streak can sometimes draw your focus and attention to the wrong things.

    Here’s something to consider: there’s room for everyone.

    Someone else’s success does not mean a set back for you. Sure, there are only a limited number of places on the best sellers lists or the finals for any writing competition. But focusing solely on competing with others is pointless. If you sat down to write each day while thinking about how to make your writing better than someone else’s writing would that make you feel creative? No. You want to better your writing for you (and for your readers) rather than to one-up another writer.

    Competitive people need to have a goal. Normally, that goal is to be the best/beat out the competitors. When it comes to writing the idea of ‘winning’ isn’t that cut and dry, and will be different for everyone. The key to harnessing your competitive side for a positive outcome is in the goals you set.

    Think about the goals you’ve set yourself as a writer:

    • Are all your goals focused purely on rankings? i.e. to be a #1 Amazon Best Seller, to win an award etc.
    • Do any of the goals rely on you competing with yourself? i.e. to secure an agent or publishing deal, to complete the first draft of your new project etc.

    This is not to say one type of goal is better than another, but if you have all goals be int he first category you’re focusing a lot of winning by beating others. Sometimes this comes from a need for validation from others, since those rankings are not determined by you. It’s a good idea to have a mix of goals across the two categories so that some focus on your placement in the industry and other focus on your work in relation to you alone.

    Some key things to remember if your competitive streak is getting you down or stealing your focus:

    • Other authors can be your allies rather than your competition, that choice is up to you
    • Competition is like chocolate, it’s good in small doses
    • Think about how you can compete with yourself, what’s your personal best and how can you beat it
    • You don’t need an NY Times Best Seller label to be successful, but you do need good books

    This is such a huge topic, and I feel like this only scratches the surface but hopefully it’s food for thought. Is this series something you’d be interested in? Are there any other topics you’d like me to blog about? I am open to suggestion and debate, as always xx

    Also, have you played Settlers of Catan?? Are you as addicted to it as I am?

  2. Writers Dealing with – Doubt

    4 Comments

    Doubt is a horrible feeling. If you allow it, those thoughts can burrow deep and become part of your daily life.

    I’ll be honest, I’ve doubted myself through every step of the publishing journey. Every time I see a one or two star rating or review pop up on GoodReads I question whether my books will ever win an award or make a bestseller list. Every time I get stuck on a story I doubt I will make it to the end.

    From speaking to other writers it seems feelings of doubt are common. Getting published doesn’t make these feelings go away. Putting your work out there for the general public to judge is scary and overwhelming.

    The bad news is that feelings of doubt are natural and pretty much everyone experiences them at some point. The good news is that you can deal with doubt, you can do things to increase your belief in yourself and create an environment where you feel less creatively blocked by doubt.

    15606349802_206d03ab2a_b

    photo credit

    Whether you’re an aspiring/pre-published writer doubting your ability to get the elusive ‘yes’ from an editor or agent, or if you’re like me and are dealing with doubt post publication here are few things that I do to stop the doubt messing with my creativity and my confidence:

    Do:

    Talk it out – Everyone has these feelings, so talking it out with someone from your support network can provide some perspective to the ‘doubt demons’. Got a one star review and think that means you’ll never sell a book again? Not so. Someone who can look at the situation with a little more distance can help you see through your emotions and find balance with your thinking.

    Remind yourself of what you’ve been able to achieve so far – especially for those of us who are a little Type-A (ahem, me) we often forget to reflect and look at the good things we’ve done before jumping with two feet into the next task. Have you written a whole book? Had a request from an editor? These are all fantastic things that you possibly doubted you could do at some point.

    Understand that self belief starts with you – no one else can make you believe in yourself and your abilities, more importantly you have to want to change this feeling. It’s tough, but simply switching up your language with more ‘cans’ than ‘can’ts’ is a good place to start.

    Remember a few key things:

    – There’s room for everyone at the top – one person’s success does not mean there is less opportunity for you

    – Writing is subjective – some people will love what you do, others will not. You can’t control how people feel about your writing

    – It’s not easy for anyone, so don’t feel bad that some days you find it  hard.

    Don’t:

    Compare yourself to others – I know humans are designed to analyse information by using comparison but comparing your number of requests or the time it took you to get published or your sales numbers to others is not the way to feel confident in yourself. Look at your achievements and cheer others on, but don’t compare.

    Use doubt to define your choices – trying to figure out the ‘easiest’ route to getting published because you doubt your abilities will only make you wish you’d gone all out later on. If you’re researching publishers and want to try for the big guns, do it. Don’t cheat yourself because you’re scared of getting a ‘no’.

    Give up – doubt is a natural feeling and you can’t always prevent it, but it doesn’t have to run your life. You can’t always choose how you feel, but you can choose how you react.

    I hope this post will help some of you who are struggling with doubt at the moment. It’s something I battle all the time and the above comes from years of experience at working to change my outlook on my self and my abilities. If you have any tips to add please leave them in the comments below – you might just help someone out!