Let Go Of The Outcome

Hey, lovelies.
So, I’m slowly getting back into the writing groove again. After struggling with some mental health stuff for…a while, I didn’t realize that it had seeped into my confidence as a writer, as well.
I’ve been editing one of my novels, Blood Price, this entire year. And though I make that claim, it’s honestly been more stops and spurts than constant work, until the past two weeks. I realized, after a little reflection, that I wasn’t making steady progress because I was too focused on the outcomes: on how I was “taking too long” to write this story; how I needed to query it immediately, before this story becomes irrelevant; how some people might hate this story or focusing way too much about the reception of readers.
It was…paralyzing.
Then, I saw a tweet from V.E. Schawb that simply said:

Friends, this has become my mantra.
I can’t control how readers respond to my writing, my books. I can’t control the publishing market, whether this books leads me to an agent or if it takes me more books to get that point (or if I decided to self-publish). In publishing, there is a lot I can’t control, so why would I give those things the power to influence what I can control: my own output, my own desire to write, my drive to put in the work necessary to make this book–to make every book I write–the best book I can, in that moment.
It’s advice that ties into everything else I’ve been dealing with, too, hence the whole “adopting it as a mantra” thing. Whether I decide I want to start going to the gym again and actively try to lose weight or if I decide to try to simply love myself as I am, both options, I can follow the same advice: I can show up and work out as hard as I can and enjoy the process, instead of focusing so much on the results. Or, I can actively work, every day, to try and love myself and stop focusing so much on what others think.
It was just such an…empowering idea, one that I love and am trying to actively incorporate. With writing, it has helped a ton. I’m focusing on my story as it is now, actively taking the time to edit it as it needs to be edited, instead of spending so much time worrying about how, in my “original timeline/plan,” I would have been querying by now. Instead, I’m focusing on showing up as often as I can, putting in all the necessary work, to make this book be the version I know it can be, in my heart.
And friends, it’s like a piece that was missing has been returned to me.
I didn’t realize how much my happiness was tied into my writing and the very act of writing/creating. But going through those few months not working on it at all definitely didn’t help my mood, which was already in the dumps to begin with. I’m excited about this book, excited to be putting in the work again. I’m falling in love with this story and these characters all over again and I love it. I needed it. I’m excited with this new mindset and learning how to embrace it more fully. I have a feeling, if I can master letting go of the outcomes and instead, putting all that worrying energy into my own work and effort, then I’ll become unstoppable.


Fear To…Write?

Hello, lovelies.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks, just like I’ve been meaning to work on fleshing out my backstory and the history for BLOOD PRICE, so I can finally work on the next round of edits.
Yet, I keep procrastinating, because fear has reared its ugly head again and I’ve been succumbing to it.
I’m not exactly sure if I can pinpoint why.
I know it’s a form of self-rejection. Ironically enough, Chuck Wendig, fantastic writer and one of my favorite bloggers, um, ever, published a post about self-rejection just this very afternoon (thanks for always unknowingly post exactly what I need to hear, my good sir). As he listed a few different forms of self-rejection, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint which one I’m succumbing to right now, which he so wonderfully depicts, quoted below:

“The work isn’t ready yet so I’ll just do these 400 other things first.” Procrastination is a snake masquerading as a tool. You’re like, “Oh hey I need this screwdriver OH GOD IT’S A PIT VIPER IT’S BITING MY EYE.” We do this thing, and I’ve done this thing, where we pre-judge our work to be unready, and so we choose to do more work on it — a bunch of worldbuilding, one more draft, another draft, a 453rd draft, a rewrite, a new outline, maybe I’ll start this other book first and then come back to this one (spoiler warning, I won’t come back to it). This is one of the nastiest versions of self-rejection because it doesn’t feel like self-rejection. It feels like progress! It feels like work! “I’m working! I’m doing stuff! I’m a writer!” And yet, somehow, the work never seems to actually get done. You kill it under a smothering blanket of love and it dies ten feet from the finish line.

I mean, I’m not lying when I choose to do other things. 95% of the time, they are valid commitments and items I need to be working on. This blog. Reading finalists for SPFBO. Projects for work. Beta reading for those who just finished beta reading for me.
But I’ve also been making a lot of excuses to not start working on this needed work in the past few weeks, too.
The environment’s not right, so I’ll just wait.
I gotta stay up to date on Twitter.
Probably should plan my trip to New Zealand…that’s over a year away.
An hour isn’t enough time to get started because I don’t want to have to stop once I get rolling, so I’ll just…not.
Sad Martin Freeman GIF
Yeah, you can read through those and label it as bullshit as clearly as I could. I was totally aware of what I was doing: putting off starting this necessary work. And it is necessary work, despite how Wendig lists worldbuilding as a potential procrastination technique–which is totally valid, because I’ve also done that before with previous books, too! But in this case, a lot of the questions my beta readers raised are because I added bits of worldbuilding into the latter half the novel as I was editing last round; bits that are good, but underdeveloped. So I need to sit down and flesh out those ideas, so I can accurately answer those questions and then dive back into the manuscript, fixing the list of issues I have for this next round of revision.
When I think about doing this work, I get excited. I’ve dreamt about it, thought about it in the shower or in bed, on nights I can’t sleep. I already have solutions and ideas running through my head and I’m itching to get back into the manuscript and elevate it to the next level, because this is a story I love and I want to tell.
It’s when I sit down to actually do the work that needs to be done that I find another way to procrastinate–some valid, others obvious time wasters. I think it’s because I’m afraid, but I’m struggling to pinpoint exactly what I’m afraid of? I mean, I know some reasons. This novel is the…truest of my heart, I think, that I’ve ever written. Past novels, I still adore and they are still part of my heart. They are still me, so please don’t mistake me in that (Artemis, I promise, I haven’t abandoned you).
But this book…it puts it all out there. It holds nothing back. It puts me out there and I’m afraid not only that everyone will hate it, but what if everyone loves it? Will I be able to follow up on it, if it does well? Will I be able to survive it, if it crashes?
All that’s assuming I find an agent and get it published, in the first place (since I want to go traditional publishing with this story).
Is That Really The Best You Can Do Benedict Cumberbatch GIF by BBC
Writing it out now, I think I’ve figured out my issue. I think…I think I’m focusing my thoughts in the wrong areas. I’m focusing on the future, on the what’s if, on so many things I can’t control. Why am I focusing on my career as an author and the what if’s of that future when I’m not even there yet? Why am I so terrified of how people are going to respond when the book isn’t even ready to be read yet?
Another thing I’m struggling with is that some of the topics I’m writing about are really relevant right now, so I’m continually freaking out with, “I need to get this published yesterday,” so it doesn’t become irrelevant years from now (ignore how I know that, even if I signed a publishing contract tomorrow, it still wouldn’t get published for another 2 years at the earliest, because my brain isn’t thinking logically when I’m in panic mode, you know?). Which, honestly, I think, is putting too much pressure on myself to finish it quickly, instead of working on it steadily and finishing it properly. Because the last thing I want to do is query my novel too early–something that, I believe, I’ve done the two times I queried previously, though definitely not nearly as badly as my first go at querying (let’s just pretend that one never happened, okay?).
But also also, I think I need to believe in this story a little more and focus on making it the best story I can make it, right now. If I put in all the work and all the heart and the dedication I can into it, then I’ve done everything I can for this book and given it the best chance I could, at this current point in my life. I can’t control how others receive it or how much others love it or hate it, no matter what. But at least, if I confidently give it my all, I can know I’ve done that.
Martin Freeman Sherlock GIF by BBC
So…I’m going to start working on that backstory tonight and see where it takes me, fears and self-rejection be damned. Still, I’d love your thoughts and advice, if you have the time and are willing: how do you deal with self-rejection and fear that paralyzes you from writing? How do you keep going? Thanks in advance, because I appreciate you taking out the time to help a struggling writer out.

Random Musings

Enjoy The Process

If you follow along on my Resolution Sunday Blog Series, this year undertaking the theme called “Quest for Discovery,” you’ll know that I hinted at writing a post over the idea of wanting to maximize my time and enjoy the process during my Week 16 update.
This is that post.
You see, I have a lot of goals and a lot of dreams that I really want to accomplish. Two of my main ones include becoming a published author and shaping my body into the shape I’ve always dreamed I could reach. On top of that, a few hobbies that I have, I’m pretty involved in, like running three blogs and reading books (plus reviewing them). There is something in common about all of those things.
They all require work to achieve.
Want to be a published author? Well, you need to write books in order to do that. And writing books requires sitting down and putting in the work, writing word after word after word. Dream bodies are great, but you’d better be prepared to complete the workouts, control your eating and figure out a routine that not only works for you, but also creates the results you want. You can’t post on your blogs if you don’t write the posts and reviews don’t write themselves, either.
I know that. I totally accept it and I’m willing to do the work, in every single case. If I had to choose between giving up one of those dreams/goals/hobbies instead of doing the work (which, essentially, is what that comes down to), obviously, I’m going to choose to do the work. It’s what I have been doing and I have no plans on stopping now.
Yet I don’t always enjoy it.
Sure, that’s bound to happen. I mean, I’m not going to sit down every day in the mood to write, blog or read. I’m not going to enjoy every single workout I do. I’m not always going to want to do any of these things. Sometimes, I have to force myself to do it, to overcome laziness or anxiety or doubt. Sure, sometimes I need a break and I take that needed break, but most of the time, I need to be willing to put in the work, because it takes work to stay as consistent as I do and balance all of these things, on top of other commitments and aspects in my life I haven’t mentioned in this post.
But I want to enjoy it more, on a consistent basis, too.
It’s not that I’m miserable, all of the time, either. I don’t want to paint the wrong picture. But it does happen when I sit down to write and I have no desire to. Workouts, this happens a lot, where my brain is like, You don’t really want to do that, do you?, and tries to talk me out of it. There is a plethora of reasons I try to tell myself or that come up. Sometimes they’re valid, sometimes they’re not.
I think, however, that I could do a better job framing my thoughts around these activities and the work required to make my dreams come true, so that I do enjoy it more, instead of falling into the trap of an over-thinking brain or actually making it feel like work (which I think carries a societal taint that you’re not meant to enjoy it), instead of feeling things like pride in making progress and a sense of accomplishment. Mainly, I just need to remind myself that not only am I doing exactly that–making progress on my dreams, keeping up with my blog and my book reviews–but also remember how lucky I am to have the time available to do that. Because at the moment, I have a pretty good balance, as far as managing my time so I can complete all of these things daily. It isn’t always like that and it isn’t always going to be like that.
It also wouldn’t hurt to maximize on that time, either.
Despite being pretty productive pretty consistently, I know I’m still wasting too much time on social media. I scroll through Twitter a lot, especially after my dinner break, when work is at its slowest point. I could be doing a lot more and I want to try and lessen that time I spent wasting away and instead spend that time being productive, whether that’s writing a new post ahead of time, reading an extra chapter or hell, watching a TV show, seems so much better than just scrolling through social media for hours, instead of just checking it and then logging back off.**
The other thing I wonder is: what exactly do I want to replace my time spent pursuing these pursuits with? When I think about it, I can’t imagine what I would do if I didn’t blog, read, write and workout; how I would fill all of that time and still be happy. Sure, I’d probably watch more movies and TV shows and game a lot more, but even with doing everything, I still have a couple hours a day to actually game or watch a movie, if I want to. So it’s not even like I’m sacrificing those other hobbies that I love that don’t require any work to continue doing the hobbies that I also love that do take work. I need to remember that, if I wasn’t involved in and chasing after all of these things, I would probably be very, very bored.
So I’m going to be more conscious about my attitude when it comes to these endeavors, especially with writing and working out, specifically, as those are the two activities my brain fights me against the most, even if it isn’t all the time; the former, out of fear and doubt over my ability to write worthy books, and the latter because I just get lazy sometimes and it’s not a small amount of work to take control of your health and shape your body into something awesome that you’re proud of.
But in both cases, the work is worth it.
Now I just gotta remember that.
**In that vein, I find myself also feeling guilty rather easily when I make plans to accomplish X thing during Y time, but then something else comes up. Namely, in this example, I plan on working on X project at work and then my coworkers ask how my day was and instead of enjoying the conversation with them and the chance to catch up, I feel guilty for spending time socializing. That needs to change, too. Not that I want to spend so much time socializing on a consistent basis that I never get my work done, but rather, I want to enjoy the opportunity to socialize when it comes up instead of beating myself up every time that it does (because it isn’t often).