“A word after a word after a word is power.” Margaret Atwood
“Nothing works unless you do.” Maya Angelou
We’ve all been there, probably many times. It’s hard at times not to feel overwhelmed by the challenges of finishing a piece of work. Or once you’ve revised and polished it to the point where you feel it’s ready, to step it out into the world. While you are still working on it in the warm, cozy cocoon of your expectations, you dwell in the Land of Possibilities. Once you move forward with the goal of putting it out into the world, you are suddenly dealing with what seems like the Law of Probabilities. How can you keep your bearings? Whatever stage you’ve reached, if you find yourself in a low, valley moment, here are a few things I’ve found that help me and I hope help you:
Believe in your work: Whatever your project is, there was a time when it was just a spark, a little flutter of inspiration. And somehow, day by day, hour by hour, word by word, you’ve fanned that spark into something bigger and started to put it on the page. Return to that moment again: remember the excitement and sense of purpose you felt early on. There was no doubt, only the dream taking form. Your work has value. Believe in it. Believe in your work and it will believe in you – and carry you through.
Believe in those who believe in you: When I hit a rough patch in my writing, it gives me the courage to write dangerously and push through it if I remember all the people who believe in me and my writing. I think of my dad and mom, of my beloved sister Judy, and my ever-encouraging sister Stephanie and brother Peter. I think of my wonderful writing group, of the little girls who’ve read my novel, of all my friends who’ve sent me notes and cheered me on, even strangers I’ve met who’ve shown me kindness and given me a helping hand on my journey. I feel so grateful for their help — it lifts me up.
Believe in the hard work you’ve put in: Wherever you are, getting there has taken time and energy. It hasn’t always been easy and sometimes you’ve faltered, but one way or another you’ve managed to push on. That takes hard work. And if you’ve already shown that you’re capable of it, you have more of the same grit and determination in you — you can draw on it now. Give yourself enormous credit for all the work you’ve put in — and remember all the satisfaction that working on something difficult that really matters has given you.
Believe it’s not difficult, just time-consuming: On his always- inspiring Success Hotline (973.743.4690), my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert often says, “Nothing is difficult, it’s just time-consuming.” How enormously encouraging! If you hit a rough plot patch or need to create a more engaging heroine or have to tackle another round of submissions, don’t think of it as difficult, just say to yourself, “Well, this is going to take more time — and I’m going to put in the time needed so I can get the result I want.” And then dive back in.
Writing is a joy and a journey. None of us get where we want to go without bumps and detours. So let’s get out the compass of confidence and all write on!