Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Want to be an unhappy author? Here are twelve surefire strategies.
1. Stress about the things you can’t control.
You have enough to worry about, between writing great books, trying to promote them, and staying on top of your crazy schedule. There’s no sense stressing about the things over which you have no control. Namely: outcomes. Sales numbers and Amazon reviews are simply outside your purview. Do your best on the things in your territory, and try to let go of the rest. (Tweet this.)
2. Feel entitled.
Entitlement is a feeling of “I deserve” or “I’m owed.” It may be hard to identify this in yourself, but if you’re ever feeling disgruntled or unhappy with the writing life, consider it. Do you feel you deserve better than you’re getting? Entitlement is a trap, because in truth, none of us deserves anything.
3. Make sure your self-worth is dependent on your book sales and reviews.
As an author you’re putting yourself out on the line. You’re open to criticism and rejection from strangers. That is not easy. So your task is to diligently guard your heart and not let those external circumstances define who you are. Being a happy author depends on it.
4. Underestimate the amount of work a successful writing career takes.
It’s like any job—even a dream job. It’s still a lot of hard work. There are still parts of the job that stink. (Tweet this.) There are setbacks and disappointments. Don’t discount the difficulty of the path.
5. Spend substantial time in comparison.
You know it’s true in every aspect of life. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for unhappiness. There will always be people whose book sold better than yours, got better reviews than yours, has a more awesome cover than yours. Do the hard work of resisting comparison, unless you can use it to learn and grow.
6. Never celebrate your small victories.
Write for two hours without ever checking Facebook? Finish that chapter ahead of schedule? Figure out a thorny plot problem? Celebrate! (Tweet this.) Acknowledging small “wins” sets you up for more. And reminds you that there is plenty to be happy about.
7. Resist the realities of book publishing, such as the need for marketing.
Resistance makes you unhappy because it doesn’t allow you to fully take charge of your writing career. Why spend energy denying or decrying the state of publishing, when you could use that energy to move your career forward?
8. Don’t distinguish between big dreams and unattainable goals.
You need big dreams to get where you want to go. But along the way to fulfilling those big dreams, be sure to set reachable goals so that you don’t get discouraged.
9. Get derailed by rejection and disappointment.
Every worthwhile pursuit will have setbacks. Happiness (not to mention success) depends on the ability to bounce back.
10. Believe in writer’s block.
We all occasionally have a bad day at the desk. Sometimes the words just don’t flow. But to chalk it up to writer’s block is to perpetuate it. Instead, take a break. Get some exercise. Do other kinds of creative work. And get back to work. Don’t be afraid to write some really bad pages—it happens! At least you’re writing.
11. Listen to everything your friends tell you.
Information about publishing flies fast and furious out there, and so does misinformation. Check your sources. Get multiple opinions. Understand that everyone is biased. Ask a lot of questions and stay well-informed.
12. Expect that being published will be completely life-changing.
Fulfilling a big dream is a wonderful milestone. Reaching that goal will feel GREAT. But you’ll still be the same person. Your friends and family probably won’t like or respect you more. And you’ll still always get into the slowest line at the supermarket.
What keeps you from being an unhappy author?