Working Through It, Once More

The anthology panel with (left to right) Jonathan Maberry, Kevin J. Anderson, Esther Jones, me, and Sam Knight.

I just got back from Superstars Writing Seminar last night. This was my fifth year—first as a sponsor with Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing. There’s something inspiring about spending such intimate time with other writers and publishing professionals. It’s also comforting when you talk with others who share the difficulties you do in the writing industry.

Before I went to bed last night, I wrote up the goals for this week. It’s so hard to not go overboard and try to put everything I want to get done in one day. You see, I’ve known myself for a few years now. My aims are typically super ambitious, but my ability to make my mind focus and get things done is limited. Is this frustrating? Certainly. But have I developed tools to get me through it? Absolutely.

For years I’ve made lists and kept things moving to continue to engage my ADHD brain. I force myself to get sleep, even if I want to finish that one last thing that ends up keeping me awake all night. The floor needs to be mopped and it’s suddenly, for no specific reason, vital that it gets done right now. I only have two dozen pieces of marketing to produce for this book launch; it totally won’t take me that long. Four hours later… Being able to stop myself from making those kind of bad decisions—most of the time anyway—has helped a bunch already.

The biggest change, however, involves forgiving myself when I do fail—because it will inevitably happen. I used to punish myself for hours when I failed at something. Why can’t I just do it like everyone else? What is wrong with you? Stop thinking about that video game and get back to your story. I might as well just eat this bag of chips, because I’m not going to get anything else done anyway. When I try to write in the midst of this hating myself phase, I end up lecturing myself. “You love that story and think about nothing else when you’re doing anything else. Then you sit down to write and everything in the world becomes more important than adding words to your manuscript.” You can apply this to landscaping or cleaning or organizing the, well, anything. It’s not just a writing issue; it’s a brain issue.

So how does forgiving myself help? Well, it is my brain. It’s not going to change how it works; so I have to change how I handle the setbacks. By forgiving myself quickly, I move straight on to getting back to the tasks at hand instead of wasting even more time frustrated and angry. It’s been freeing.

Which means even though I’ve had a slow month of writing between getting ready for Superstars and attending Superstars, I dived right into writing as soon as I woke up this morning. I need to write 2000 words a day for the rest of the month to be on schedule. It’s a reasonable goal that I’ve reached in the past and have confidence that I can make again. It is after all the third novel in the Emergence series which flows pretty easily since Fauna Young reflects a lot of my difficulties and writing her story is like therapy.

If I have a bad day, I’ll just keep going. So the one bad day is only one bad day, not a slew of them connected by self-loathing, I kinda like this recent method of getting those tasks checked off. Speaking of tasks to be checked off, I better get back to it. You’re gonna love this third book.

What tools do you use to get over difficulties you face? What has worked and what hasn’t?

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