Writing a book is a long, hard, tedious, often frustrating and lonely process. So, when the going gets really tough, how do we keep going? I'd like to share a few tips that I hope will help.
Just Write. We've all heard this advice and it's sometimes easier said than done. Speaking for myself, I find it darn near impossible to force the words when they aren't flowing smoothly. Still, I write. If not on my manuscript, then I come here and type a blog post. In my opinion, anything is better than nothing, so long as we are putting words down on a page in some manner. If you keep the words flowing then inspiration will surely follow.
Don't Give In to the Negative. Instead of sitting at the keyboard, agonizing and telling yourself, "This is too hard. I can't do it," tell yourself, "I can do this!" It's up to you to psych yourself up because no one else can truly do it for you. So learn to be positive about yourself. Expect to succeed rather than fail. Remember why you started writing in the first place and try to recapture the magic that first pulled you to the keyboard.
Don't Hide in a Cave. I am expert on this one. ;o) When you do hit a low spot, don't crawl into a cave and hide from the rest of the writing world. The longer you seclude yourself, the harder it is to come back. We've all hit the rough stretches and we know how it feels. So please don't think you're the only one who's ever second-guessed yourself or felt like quitting. We've all been there and we understand.
Remember, You're Not Alone. In general, I've found the romance writing community to be one of the most accepting and friendly groups I've ever encountered. Don't try to walk the long, hard road alone. Find a mentor or a critique partner. If you need it, there's help out there. But before you dive in headfirst, test the water. Make sure the relationship is going to work. A critique partnership is like a marriage. It's built on trust. And just like marriage, if it goes bad, it will suck the creative life right out of you. But when you do find someone, or several someones, you connect and work well with, it's pure magic. I credit critique partners with saving my creative life many times over. Best of all, from the trust you develop with a crit partner often comes lasting friendship that will carry through the low times.
Set Goals. If you're writing a full-length manuscript, set up milestones along the way. When each milestone is reached, celebrate and reward yourself. Make the milestones something you can attain within a reasonable amount of time. If you go too long without reaching a goal of some kind, the work becomes tedium with no end in sight. So set shorter goals along the way that are easier to accomplish.
Let Yourself See It. This goes hand in hand with setting goals. I like to keep a record of daily word counts. That way, I can see my progress each day. Many writers have daily word count quotas. If you do this, be sure to keep your quota within a reasonable range of what you're capable of writing. There's nothing more discouraging than falling short of your goal on a daily basis. On the other hand, it's exhilarating to exceed your quota. So, keep it real and strive to accomplish it.
Write Every Day. For some of us, this is easier said than done. But do make an effort to write at least something, even if it's only a paragraph or one line, every day. If you have to skip a day--life happens--redouble your effort to write the next day. Don't go for several days at a stretch without writing. Once you skip, it gets easier to just let it slide. But if you write every day, it soon becomes habit.
Share Your Accomplishments. Most of the writers I know blog these days. So get on the old blog every now and then and toot your own horn, or talk about the process. There's nothing more uplifting than having writer pals comment with a few "Attagirls!"
Learn to Persevere. I put this one last, but it's probably the most important. If writing for publication is your dream, stick with it. Don't give up. Some people write a book and hit the jackpot the first time they query. But for most of us, the road is much longer and very curvy. Decide you're in it for the long haul and then strap yourself in for the ride of your life. Remember, the only sure road to failure is to quit. Don't ever give up on your dreams or yourself. Success is always out there somewhere. It's up to us to reach for it.