Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Sisyphus Syndrome

Happy New Year! Can you believe 2013 is a thing of the past? (I bet you're all as excited as I am to write a new number every time you write the date on something. PS--I might learn to write 2014 instead of 2013 by, oh say, March. LOL!)

For me, 2013 was full of a TON of ups and downs. Luckily, it ended on an "up" and I hope the trend continues. I've got some exciting writing projects to work on and I'm glad some of that old creative enthusiasm (that had gone on a several month hiatus sometime in August) has made a cameo appearance. Can you say PHEW?!

Around late December, a lot of my writer pals started sharing their list of goals for the coming months. I think it has to do with January's clean, optimistic reputation. Somehow, starting a new year gives a sense of a fresh beginning. The past year is swept away with the dropping of the ball in NYC. When the clock strikes midnight at the end of December 31, the previous 365 day (or 366, if it's a leap year) are filed away in the cold case cabinet. Those unmet goals, whether fantasized or concretely laid out, can be edited, erased, or embellished. It can be energizing.

On the flip side, a lot of writers face the same goals year in and year out. Not necessarily because of something they're doing wrong or something they're failing to do, but because it's the nature of the game. The prevailing opinion is that it takes YEARS to get published, and that's if you're lucky. And over time, that can really drag a writer down. It can grind passion into bits until all that's left is doubt. Staring at the same list of goals can get discouraging. Thoughts like, "am I ever going to find and agent?" or "Am I ever going to land a publishing deal?" or "Will anyone download/order/purchase my book(s)?" can cycle on a repeat loop ad infinitum.

Perhaps you've felt like my friend, Sisyphus, here (I know I have):

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So what's a dedicated writer to do?

I have some tips:

  • Don't give up.
  • Acknowledge progress (even if you think it's small).
  • Celebrate all types of success (Have you learned a new technique? AWESOME. Did a reader send an encouraging note or leave a glowing review? SCORE!).
  • Remember WHY you started writing--it can rekindle that initial passion that can fade over time.
  • Don't stew in a negative spiral by yourself. Call on your writer friends. GET SUPPORT.
  • Give yourself a break. Sometimes frustration leads to burn out and burn out leads to writer's block. Taking time away from the notebook or computer and engaging in other fun and relaxing things can be refreshing.
  • DON'T compare yourself to others. Seriously. OK, it's good to have role models, but when you get caught up in "the grass is always greener on the other side" type of thinking, nothing you do will seem good enough, you'll get jealous, and you'll psych yourself out.

So, do you guys feel like Sisyphus? How do you find a way to keep on keeping on?

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Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror. Her Young Adult Paranormal Romance novelette NEW PRIDE and novel SHIFTING PRIDE debuted late 2012. A spin off short story based on the lions of Tsavo, TSAVO PRIDE, is now available on Amazon. In 2013, her Young Adult Dystopians, ENDURE and EVOKE, were published by Renegade YA. Her Young Adult Paranormal Adventure, THE ZODIAC COLLECTOR, is coming 2014 by Spencer Hill Press. When she's not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion. 

If you’re interested in reading more about Laura or interacting with her on the web, check out the following links:

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  1. I love this post, Laura. I think it's so important for writers to remember their love of the craft, and to remind themselves of just exactly what progress they've made. Writers can be guilty of trivializing their sucesses, and that's something we need to all make a point of changing. Good luck for everyone in 2014, and best wishes for each shaky or solid step you take along the way!