Anything we strive for always comes with barriers to success. This is especially true in writing. The mountain gets tougher the higher we climb–and if we fall from near the top, it gets all the more difficult to pick ourselves up.
But we must dust ourselves off and keep climbing if we want to reach our dreams. Take this post from Eliza Green as a prime example of why we should all keep going. And, as Neil Gaiman said in a recent speech, “If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do.” (For the full speech, go here.)
So what keeps us going when times get tough? Below are four things I always try to remember (and try to remember to do) whenever I feel discouraged.
1. Write what you love.
Right now I’m drafting Book 2 in my series because it’s calling out to me (screaming, more like it–probably because it’s been waiting on the sidelines to get written ever since I started and finished Book 1). As I write it, and as the story further unfolds, I’m falling even more in love with it. Even if other things in my writing life (or work life) don’t go as well, I have this book to come back to. It helps me remember why I started writing in the first place–and why I should keep going. So if you’re unpublished, and not on deadline–write what you want, and write what you love.
2. Don’t lose the fun.
When I’m caught up in the throes of a project (especially among bulks of revisions) it helps to not put too much pressure on myself to be perfect if I remember to have fun (and my prose tends to come out better that way anyway). Besides, why should one spend so much time on something that doesn’t end up being fun? If you’ve lost the fun, try to find a way to obtain it again.
When the rejections start coming, it becomes more difficult to believe in our work. But we must–writing is a very subjective business, but as long as you write what you love (see #1), and continually have a willingness to improve, then all the rejections in the world won’t stop your writing from finding an audience. This also goes hand in hand with the kinds of rejections you receive–if you’re told to scrap the beginning of your novel, think long and hard about whether doing so will add to your story. Because, at the end of the day, it’s your story–and it’s up to you to find the potential it holds inside.
4. Find inspiration wherever you can.
As cheesy as it sounds, I sometimes find inspiration from Disney movies (Pixar in particular). Two quotes I can think of off the top of my head are “Keep moving forward.” (Meet the Robinsons) and “Just keep swimming.” (Finding Nemo). Whenever I’m reminded of these, I always feel better about the journey I’m on. (Beware: the below video contains spoilers.)
Meet the Robinsons (be sure to listen to the song lyrics too):
So if you’re feeling discouraged today, whether it’s because of your writing or some other reason, remember to find the love, and embrace the fun. And believe. Always.
What keeps you going? Feel free to comment below.