Guilt and misunderstanding are the twin companions that stalk the writer’s life. We commiserated together this week about both, but I couldn’t let this week end on a down note.
It’s all too easy to focus on the problems —there are so many writers face. The modern publishing climate is stormy and tough.
Of course we shouldn't minimize the hardships. We’re on a difficult journey together. We can warn each other about the potholes, the bumps in the road, and the danger ahead. We can lean upon one another for support up the steep climb, helping carry each others’ burdens.
But we can’t stop there. . .
Sometimes we have to take a deep breath, slow down our pace, and take a look at the passing scenery. Maybe we even need to sit on a big rock, dangle our feet, and stare up into the sky.
In other words, we need to remember to enjoy the journey. Too often we get so caught up striving hard after our dreams, that we become fixated on the destination—finishing the book, landing an agent, or acquiring a book contract. When we’re intent on the end goal, sometimes we lose out on the beauty of the journey itself.
My four year old daughter is named Joy (that's her picture above). I constantly tell her what a joy she is to our family. And because I remind her so often what a joy and delight she is to me, she believes it. Even when she’s having a typical pre-schooler melt-down moment, she can rest secure in the knowledge that she is a joy to my life.
Often, we need to choose to have joy. It isn’t some magical, ooey-gooey feeling that comes over us when we least expect it. Rather it’s a conscious decision to live in the moment, to tell ourselves what a joy and delight the little things in life and writing truly are.
When we give ourselves a message over and over, it doesn’t take long before we begin to believe it and feel it. Isn’t that true of most things? When we give ourselves positive messages about our beauty, our worth, or even about loving someone we don’t like, pretty soon it’s not just a message, but a reality.
On the converse, when we focus too hard and too long on the negatives, we find ourselves believing them: the journey is too hard, we’re not good enough, we don’t have what it takes. When we tell ourselves these things (even unconsciously), it doesn’t take too long before they become a reality.
So, how do we minimize the negative and refocus on the joy of life and writing?
I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. I combat negativity like everyone else. But through all of the rejections, harsh critiques, and hard climbs, I try to remember to find joy in the creative process itself.
I relish words, taste phrases, and bask in the pure delight of developing a story. I reread pages I’ve already written and I smile with pleasure. I remind myself that one of the reasons I write books is because only I can develop the exact kind of story that I love to read. Creating stories is so rewarding on a personal level, I would do it without the end goal of seeing my book in print.
Sure, I’m on the path to publication, but I don’t want to get so immersed in striving toward my goals that I forget to find the simple joys of the writing journey itself.
How about you? Have you lost the joy in the journey because you’re so focused on reaching the destination? Or are you still in love with the process of creating? And if so, how do you find the smiple joys?