Sunday, July 17, 2011

Clearing Skies - You Can Overcome Discouragement

Discouragement has been discussed on this blog before, but I believe it’s a subject worth discussing periodically.  Because, let’s face it, discouragement comes around from time to time.

We’ve talked about reaching out to support other writers when we feel like this, and how thinking about other people gets the focus off ourselves.  We’ve also talked about the importance of being realistic.  This is key, in my opinion.  To think that everyone is going to drop what they’re doing to read your book, or hang on to your every tweet, is ridiculous.  Treasure every sale, and value every mention.

But what else can we do to combat negative feelings?

Resign yourself to the fact you will have days where you feel negative.  These feelings can be in regards to your writing and/or impact not only the writing community but on your readers.  These are the days that all you will hear are the negative things.  It doesn’t even have to be a current criticism.  For some reason when you’re discouraged your mind’s able to refresh everything negative to bring to your attention.  And sometimes these negative thoughts are not even prompted from an external force.  Sometimes they are just us pointing the finger  at ourselves, in a mocking gesture.

Prepare yourself.  Let me ask you this:  if you knew something was going to happen, would you prepare yourself for it?  For example, if I told you it was going to pour rain, would you not worry about whether or not your car windows were shut?   If a tornado touchdown had been spotted would you be on your back deck watching it head for you, or bunker down into the basement?

You get the idea.  If you accept that you’ll have days where you’re feeling low, then you’ll be much better able to handle them, dare I even say prepared.  Maybe set aside a journal where you record all the positive things said about your writing.  If you received feedback from a beta reader, a reader, a polite query response, a request for more material, these are all the type of things that might help “snap” you out of being discouraged.  If may also include notes from other writers where they express appreciation for your support and how you touched them.  By realizing that you do make a difference, it can be enough to lift you up.

Realize the positive that comes with being discouraged.  Okay, that sounds impossible, but think about it.  If you are in a discouraged state, you may look at your work more objectively.  You might actually start to consider some valid criticism you were strongly opposed to prior.  Of course, I suggest that you don’t modify anything dramatically when you’re discouraged, but maybe take a look at it.

Discouragement also can balance you with the realization that you are part of a writing community.  You are not alone, you have support.  You’re also not the first writer to ever feel the blues, and you won’t be the last.  Knowing that others have been there, are there, and will feel the same as you helps you know that you’re on the right track.  Discouragement is par for the course as they say for writers.

Don’t get bitter.  Don’t spread the “joy”.  Just because you may be feeling discouraged, or down about your own work, don’t look for other people’s to tear down.  This accomplishes nothing but bitter feelings and a smeared reputation.   Also, be very careful not to say anything that could be construed as negative about your own work, in a public forum.

Remember discouragement is only temporary.  Just like rain, discouragement doesn’t last forever.  Sometimes, it can be as quick as a sun shower, while other times it can rain for a few days in a row.  But no matter what, the sun will come out again, the clouds will part.

Hang in there!  You may even feel better tomorrow!