At the beginning of September, I realized I was not satisfied with the results of my existing fitness plan and decided to try a completely new approach I’ve never tried before—heavy weightlifting. (Bear with me a minute — there’s a point.)
About eight weeks in, I can see some signs of improvement … I’m lifting heavier weights every couple weeks, and I can certainly feel some difference in the size of my actual muscles, too. But do I look like the lean ripped gym rock stars that scroll in my Pinterest feed? Not even close. So I end up feeling frustrated and discouraged.
Which is, of course, ridiculous. In all likelihood the images I’m aspiring to aren’t even real. Not to mention anyone that ripped has been blessed by genetics coupled with years and years of dedicated weightlifting. And yet I want instant, perfect results.
I get like this with my writing, too. (See? There it is. Point.)
Over the last four years, I’ve been dedicated to writing fiction daily, I’ve decidedly gotten better at my craft. But the fact that I don’t have a published novel yet? Some days the failure to meet that irrational expectation (some people take 10 years, or even longer, to finish a novel, let alone the years it takes to acquire an agent, and then a publisher, and then bring a work through the publisher’s editorial process and get it on the shelf) makes my accomplishments so far seem like nothing.
Even worse, no matter what I put into reaching a goal, once I reach it, it no longer feels like a big deal to me—I fail to give myself credit for all that went into reaching it. As Groucho Marx once said, “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me.” Or in other words, if I can do it, anyone probably can, so it’s not that big a deal.
The problem here, of course, is that all this talking down to myself does nothing to help me on this very long journey to reaching my publishing goals. The way to keep yourself going through this rocky process is to be positive, give yourself the love you deserve, and celebrate the small accomplishments along the way.
It’s not always easy to be your own cheerleader. But it’s important. So rah rah shish boom bah. Etc.
Here’s a few ways I’ve found help me do this:
- Being self-aware. I feel lucky to be aware enough about myself to be realize when I talk myself down and what triggers it. It just comes from lots of listening to the voices in your head. Journaling can help with this.
- Getting outside perspective. I get this from my loved ones, from my writing group, and from reading blogs and engaging with the online writer community. I especially love stories from other writers about their journey to publication. This helps me grow, keep a healthy perspective on the process, and remember how far I’ve come.
- Talk about it. Share your process with aforementioned outside support. Stating your accomplishments out loud can make you more aware of how far you’ve come. Just having people to celebrate with can make you more likely to celebrate your small victories.
Inevitably, we’ll all get discouraged sometimes. But with some coping mechanisms to help us stay positive and keep perspective, we can stay on course. Remember to celebrate those little victories along the way to keep you going while you keep your eyes on those bigger goals.
How do you keep yourself going when process is slow? How do you celebrate the little victories along the way?