Archive for March 17th, 2011

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 by Candace Havens

If you’re a writer, and even if you aren’t, you should read this post. There are some people out there in the world who go through life in a Zen-like state. They roll with the punches and nothing upsets them.

I don’t know any of those people.

Most people have some kind of neurotic hang-up. And most of us have things that drive us to ledge. If you’re a writer the job comes with a whole set of new neurosis. I don’t know about you, but my normally cheery self can wake up in the land of dark in evil. Hell, it can happen in an instant. I’ll run across a bad review or someone will say something about how doomed the publishing world is, and I’m there.

I taught at a writer’s retreat a few years ago and that room was filled with 200 desperate writers. You could feel their angst. So much so that I felt drained when it was over, as if they’d sucked the life right out of me, even though the event went extremely well.

But I know how they felt. I had a year there where I barely held my head above water. The writer stress had me down. I fell into that trap of: Why does she get that and I don’t? How come they’re giving her a tour? Why didn’t they invite me to do that anthology even though they promised? If only I could get this, then I could do that.

You guys know what I’m talking about. Those “if onlys” will kill you.

What happens is you put yourself in this hole of negativity and desperation and it is almost impossible to crawl out. When you are so desperate to get an agent, work with a specific editor, make the NYT list or whatever it is that’s causing ulcers, you push it away from yourself. I honestly believe that you put a barrier up between you and the possibilities because you are coming from such a negative and desperate place.

It’s all about the attitude. If you want to be successful, you have to change your mindset. You have to come from a place where you are grateful for your talent. You make known your intent to reach a certain goal, but you go about it from a positive way. When you think about that goal you smile and get excited about it. You believe it’s going to happen and you do the work necessary to make it so. Polishing your books to perfection. Submitting fantastic queries. Network. Going to conference to meet with other writers, editors, agents.

In order to stop the craziness, you have to always be moving forward to the next thing. You finished one project, well, start the next one. Your agent didn’t like that particular proposal? Take a look at what is flooding the market and write something completely different. Or better yet, write something you are really passionate about.

I will tell you that I’ve seen this shift in attitude do amazing things for people. I had a friend who made her intent known and did it in a positive way. The next thing we knew she had a $1 million deal. (I’ve seriously been trying to replicate that.) I have another friend who was submitting to agents. She was so desperate to get one. Then she changed her attitude. She kept telling herself that she was a great writer and that someone out there was going to love her. A few weeks later she got a call from agent who nearly begged her to become her client.

Just recently I went through a complete attitude overhaul. I put my list of goals on a white board stuck to my office board. One of those goals had a time limit. It was to sell my YA. It hasn’t sold yet, but two days later an opportunity out of the blue came up from my agent. No idea how it will pan out but it is YA related. Maybe some of my goals won’t happen in exactly the way I think they will, but they will happen. I feel positive about that.

Be grateful. As a writer, you have one of the coolest jobs on the planet whether you are making money at it or not.

Stop being desperate and change your attitude. There is a world of possibilities out there for you.