Worrying has to be one of the essential parts of a writer’s DNA. There are so many things to be concerned about! However, the reality is so many things are out of a writer’s control–especially during the writing process. Here are my top 5 things writers should learn to stop worrying about. Save all that energy for what matters: writing the best book you can.
Writers make promises to themselves and to other people. Some people call this goal setting. This is a reasonable thing to do, provided you’re being realistic. However, there are other timelines that you can’t worry about because sometimes things get pushed back in publishing: an offer that’s “supposed” to come in, a delivery date that’s no longer attainable, a publication date that gets moved up or way back and many more. Focus on what you can control and let the rest go. Use your best judgement and guidance from your support team to curb that urge to stress about timelines that aren’t able to be set in stone.
It’s so easy for writers to judge themselves. “This isn’t good enough” is an easy way to blame yourself even though there are many things you can do to resolve that (self-editing, critique partners, workshops etc). It’s also easy to pile on judgment from others. Sometimes critique groups stop working for you. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to write with no one looking over your shoulder. Judgment is a stress that people put on themselves willingly. However, judgement is only what you perceive it to be and often times it’s not there at all! If you choose to internalize this it’s a choice. So choose not burden yourself with other people’s thoughts or the negative self-talk.
3. Other writers’ business
Advances, marketing budgets, foreign sales, reviews–the list goes on! I could be here all day listing the things that stress writers out when they start comparing their business plan to someone else’s. A book is not a kitchen table. You can’t blanket-market something so special as a book. It’s uniqueness is what makes this business amazing and frustrating sometimes. However, focus on the best business strategy for you. Learn from the other writers in your life, but remember the grass isn’t always greener.
We could also spend all day listing how Amazon is continuing to stress us all out. Rankings, distribution delays, metadata, self-publishing platform–these are a mere few of the things that plague writers’ minds about Amazon. The thing is, Amazon is not transparent and if they want to do something they will. So Amazon is not something we can let worry us. Everyone’s time is better spent elsewhere.
Guess what? It’s not attainable. No draft will be perfect. No marketing plan will be perfect. No copy edit will be perfect. Because we’re creating art the best thing we can do is stay agile and be aware. Do the best we can but realize our limitations. Work hard, but be smart about what we spend our time on and–what we let worry us.