blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
Let’s face it. Authors are not immune to worry. It’s natural. Except for the completely confident or the delusional, writers worry that their words won’t matter, that no publisher will want them, that if a publisher wants them no reader will read them, that sales numbers won’t be significant enough to warrant another contract, that books aren’t shipping fast enough, that there’s a grave typo that will make readers hate the whole book, that the world will end two days before their release date…
Many would say writers have more reason than ever to worry.
- Uncertainty with a capital U regarding almost every arena of life right now
- Complications of releasing a book during a pandemic and its aftermath
- Complications of writing a book during said pandemic and accompanying aftermath
- Concern that financial hits to the family mean you can’t sell your book fast enough to make a difference
- Distress over the pace at which publishing naturally flows
- Fear that your writing muse succumbed to its own virus and won’t survive
- Apprehension about your project being outdated before it gets published because life is changing so fast
All valid concerns, which is why we should probably talk about what worry accomplishes in regard to the above (and your own) list.
(This blank space is a clue.)
All the good worry accomplishes:
- Huh uh
- Not that either
- Nothing from nothing is nothing
But worry accomplishes a robust list of negative results:
- Out of control anxiety
- Sleeplessness, which stifles creativity
- Mental paralysis
- Rushed writing
- Less than excellence
- Obsession with all that’s wrong or different or complicated, which makes potential solutions fuzzy at best
- Missed opportunities
- Personality changes (You won’t like Grumpy Writer, even if it’s you.)
Now that we know all the good worry does adds up to zero:
- File worry in a different folder. It doesn’t belong in the MUST DO folder, but in the TRASH folder.
- Convert worry into productive energy. Like a solar panel converts sunlight into electricity, you have the tools to convert worry into innovation. If the above worry reasons are lurking, then what will we do to combat, avoid, override, or maximize their flip side?
- Locate worry’s soft underbelly, its vulnerability. For some, that might mean realizing that worry is weakest when they’re reading, meditating, or worshiping. For others, worry shrinks when they head out for more walks around the block (clears the fog and racks up the steps). Some writers discover that worry hits hardest when other stressors are loud–children, finances, messes–and determine to relegate worry to a safer time. Write “worry” on your calendar for a week from tomorrow. Not today. The kids need you. Your spouse needs you. You’re on deadline. Hint: A week from tomorrow, you’ll forget what this week’s specific worry was. You’ll likely discover a new concern. Yeah, that can wait until the end of the month.
- Turn the concern on its head. It’s complicated to release a book during a pandemic (or any disaster) and its aftermath? Time for creativity and innovation to step in and take the spotlight.
This much we know. All the good worry accomplishes adds up to less than nothing. What can we do to adjust and trust?