I’ve debated about whether or not to write this post, but I like to think that we indies can be transparent with one another for the edification of all. Some days folks, I just get flat out discouraged about my work. I’m positive most of you feel the same from time to time. It is so easy to fall victim to this dread emotion–especially when you’ve been working so hard on your dreams! What are some symptoms that you’re discouraged in your work?
>> You constantly compare your writing style or writing skills to other authors and find yourself wanting.
>> When you check your sales report and see only a few new purchases or downloads, you scowl or whine that it isn’t the explosion of new readers you had hoped for.
>> You feel like all your marketing efforts (both free or paid) are fruitless and do not help your book to get noticed.
>> You feel mentally drained and tired to the point that it is sometimes impossible to write.
>> If trying to get your book free (especially on Amazon), you’ve been waiting weeks and weeks and nothing has happened.
>> You feel that your progress on your WIP is trudging along and that you’ll never meet your publishing goal for the year…
I know how it feels, guys. Believe me I do. I’ve had my own bouts of discouragement since publishing my very first book back in August. It is so easy to overlook your successes and put a laser’s focus on the things you are disappointed with or on the things that you could be doing better. As ironically comfortable as melting into a negative space can be, it is imperative that we stay the course and continue fighting for ourselves. I’m no expert on any of this stuff, by any means, but there are many things you can do to stave off discouragement and keep your authorial sanity.
>> Don’t compare your work to others’. – This one can be difficult, granted, but not impossible. It takes a certain level of vigilance to pull this one off. You have to “guard your mind”, so to speak, but it can help you to develop an iron-clad resolve not to bully yourself simply because another writer has much better sentences than you.
>> Celebrate every victory. – Yes, your sales report might have much fewer numbers than you anticipated on any give month, but if people are buying your books (even if you only part with a few copies), that is reason to celebrate! That means a few new readers have found your story. Every reader is an opportunity. Don’t forget that. Your marketing efforts have yielded a minuscule reward? Awesome! Take every good thing–no matter how small–and let it bolster your resolve to continue working your hardest!
>> Every now and then, take whole days of rest and whole days to write. – Life can become quite cumbersome at times and so can work. It is important that you get in some full days of rest every now and then. In our fast-paced, busy lives these days it can be very, VERY hard to find a whole day to just relax and chill, but I fervently believe it is important to our mental health. On the other side of things, try to find days where you can just focus on your writing (i.e. avoid marketing, blogging, and any other work-related stuff). Days spent just writing can increase your word count, of course, but they can also get you back into that all important “zone” where the magic happens. You’re not distracted by other work related things, so you can put all your energy into the novel.
>> Don’t give up on the hard stuff. – If you read my post on making my first book Night Bells free, you’ll know how important it is for an author to try and get the first book in a series free on Amazon. Well…I’m STILL waiting. Not gonna lie, it has severely tried my delicate emotional balance, but you know what? I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep trying to get it free and perhaps one day my efforts will pay off. Sure, getting a book free isn’t the only hard thing in our industry. Almost everything we do would be considered “hard” by an outsider, but if there is one task that is particularly frustrating, challenging, maddening, or soul-killing for you, don’t give up! I’m a firm believer in the fact that doing hard things is usually immensely good for you.
>> Keep working on your WIP, no matter how “slow” you think your progress is. – This one sort of falls underneath the first tip in that it means you shouldn’t compare your writing rate to other writers. YOU write the way YOU write and if it is working for you, great! If, however, you’d like to be writing a bit more per day, set some word count goals for yourself! Just keep working. Don’t stop. It will get finished and with hard work and polishing, it will be published. Just keep applying yourself and in a few years, you’ll wake up and realize you’ve authored over fifteen novels.
You’re not alone. If you ever need some encouragement, don’t hesitate to reach out to a fellow indie. Believe me, we’ve all been there. Chin up and keep fighting the good fight! Hard work will pay off in the end. You will “get there”. Just don’t stop working hard and DO stop being so hard on yourself.