Sunday, May 5, 2019

Keeping Our Spirits Up for the Good of Our Writing Careers


The Best of Times, Not the Worst

Keeping Our Spirits Up 

I was excited to be given an honorary membership to a site designed to help writers keep their spirits up in spite of Murphy’s Law, Writer’s Block and all the other boogeymen we writers have convinced ourselves are out there. I know I wasn’t so chosen to go on the forum to complain about my down days, but the brilliant (truly!) site owner had no idea that “no moaning” is my modus operandi on the rare occasions I feel stuck.

No, it’s my grandmother’s Wedgewood sugar bowl. On the rare occasions I begin to ruminate on the time I frittered away between the time I knew I wanted to write and the time I got busy focusing on it, I go to that sugar bowl where I’ll find dozens of scraps of paper. Some scraps are unreadable, but I’ll always find one or two that I scribbled on long ago that pull me out of my funk. They may include an image I didn’t want to forget or an improbably idea for a story or book. Sometimes I don’t find anything all that useful in the moment, but I always find myself smiling or laughing out loud at myself.  Once, I found enough images to write what poets called a “found poem; ” that poem eventually worked its way into a chapbook I published with another upper in my life who partnered with  me on the Celebration Series of poetry chapbooks. An Aussie (seems Aussie’s are always uppers!), Magdalena Ball runs a review site (http://CompulsiveWriter.com), and always seems ready to collaborate on some misery-fighting project. 

I have a ton of other such antidotes for any mood that aims to defeat me. I have never felt compelled to visit to a therapist or a psychiatrist, but I wouldn’t rule that out if necessary. I address some of those techniques in my first how-to book for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter. It includes sections on overcoming fear of marketing, fear of success, and fear of failure so I go back to my own book when I begin admonishing myself about what I might have achieved if I had started publishing earlier.

I bring a background as publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to my practice of staying pretty jolly and focused. Having other careers has helped. When we bring a whole slew of life's experiences to a new pursuit, we can feel secure much more quickly. That's something I keep reminding myself of, too. Years of retailing, as an example, helped me figure out how to market my first novel when my first small publisher failed miserably at that pursuit so it wasn’t the struggle to switch gears it might have been otherwise. 

My biggest hurdle was related to a recognized problem that psychologists sometimes call the “I’m-Not-Good-Enough” syndrome. With "only" a bachelor's degree and some study overseas, I did feel insecure about reaching out to the academic community. A man at a party encouraged me not to let that hold me back, assured me that UCLA would be interested in me as an instructor because they often take experience rather than solely academic credentials into consideration. That was how I started with my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers which I needed to teach marketing to writers back in the early 2000s (most marketing books were written for businesses and marketers in those days!). Though I don't remember that mentor's name (maybe I never knew it?), I will be forever grateful to him. I am here today—and was maybe chosen to be part of this authors-aid site-- because I like the whole "pass it forward" idea--no matter the industry. And I firmly believe we are never so darn smart we can't learn from both newcomers and old-timers. 

So you want to know about this miracle site. Here’s the sad part: This site didn’t take off. Authors can’t use it to share and encourage one another. I hate the old saying, “There is more than one way to skin a cat!,” (disgusting, isn’t it?), but it is a truism. And sometimes a sad event leads to reexamining other possibilities, other opportunities and other says to look at downers.

So, yeah. I can take a minute to feel sad, but lots of social networks, writers’ associations, and educational programs that might otherwise be thought of as support groups are out there. All are filled with people willing to share—rather like a therapy group. That’s sort of why I was determined to teach a class in marketing for writers back in the day, so determined I overcame my fear of academia with a little encouragement from the gentleman I met at that party. That lead me to writing a “text” for the first class. The texts on public relations and marketing I found were really texty—you know, dry and boring, based on principles and not real experience. And mostly not for writers. That wasn’t a downer. It was an opportunity.

That experience turned into my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. It includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoterand The Frugal Editor and How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.  (I hate seeing authors spend money on stuff they can do better than anyone they hire!). In the case of the winningest book in the series, The Frugal Editor,I hate to see authors assume that an editor assigned to them from a big publisher is always in a better position to make choices than they are!

Most of all, I believe that the best way to keep our spirits up is reveling in the successes of others and learning from failures. We can be there for one another. This is not a competition but a sharing experience. Forget the negative words. There is a way to succeed in a notoriously difficult field. This is the best time for that. We can take control of our own futures better than ever before! 

Just know you are not alone. 

And make yourself an equivalent of my antique Wedgwood sugar bowl. 

2 comments:

  1. You know I am all about the positive reinforcement - goal setting, productivity, etc. So important. My favorite day in my Write On Online group is Toot Your Horn Thursday. I also have people on #GoalChat who feel that's the only place they are comfortable sharing wins. Thanks for all you do, Carolyn, to make writers feel included and loved!

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  2. Carolyn, what an encouraging post. And, great tips on getting yourself out of a funk. I love the sugar bowl full of snippets idea! Sorry the site didn't make it. What if we add some encouraging posts to Writers on the Move? I think it'd be helpful.

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