There are more critical things to worry about in life than your writing career. This might be a crazy turn to take in a series called Own Your Writing Career….but follow me for a second. I bet you’ve noticed that lots of what this series covers is how to keep your head screwed on straight while pursuing a creative career. And recognizing the feeling of pressure and stress and what you can do about it is part of staying mentally and emotionally healthy (while you drive yourself nuts with a creative career :)).
So, yeah, let’s admit that there are more important things to worry about in LIFE than your writing career. That said, if you don’t do any thinking and planning about your career, you won’t have one! There’s a balance that goes into this, and there’s no one recipe that’s going to work out best for every writer all the time. In fact, the balance can change day by day, week by week, and year by year. But if you’re feeling a ton of PRESSURE to get certain things done, to spend a lot more time than you have on your writing and promotion…take a deep breath.
The pressure will knock you on your ass if you let it. There will ALWAYS be more that you could do to create and promote your creations. But adding stress with untenable goals does not help you progress. It just turns you into a basket case.
Don’t worry so much. Let go of that feeling of pressure. No one lives or dies by how quickly we get a story out. Our entire career doesn’t change because we were a few weeks later than we wanted to be with finishing a series — or even a year later than we wanted to be. In order to embrace the long-term nature of establishing a creative career, you need to recognize and let go of the pressures associated with this type of work.
Here are some ways we creative types feel pressured — and some ideas for coping with that perceived pressure. It’s never going away, but you can learn to see the signs of taking on too much stress, and learn what to do to get yourself back on track. (You’ll probably need a reminder next year: I always do!)
So Many Choices!
As I’ve said before, this is the best time to be a writer in history. But…we’re also forging our own paths into a wilderness. It is the wilds out here, the old west, the lawless anarchy of endless CHOICE.
And that feels like a lot of pressure.
How can you decide which way to go, when there are more options than you can fully understand in your 24 hours per day?
You know what you do? You do SOMETHING. Any action to get your work in front of readers is better than no action at all. There is no one right way, and there is no way that is completely wrong, either.
It’s not easy to choose which stories to write, how to publish them, where to publish them, how to market them, where/when to advertise, which formats to use, which services to employ…….the list freaking goes on. And on.
Take the pressure off. Keep evaluating your options, but choose at least one way to move forward today, and one for tomorrow, and then the next day, and so on. Choose to do something, and in a few months you’ll be surprised how much you’ve accomplished by not allowing the many choices to stall you.
So Many Decisions!
Decision paralysis is a real and crippling thing. When you have too many decisions to make, it can be SO difficult to focus on making one at a time and moving forward.
When it comes to an artistic career, even more so. All of these decisions feel so intertwined, that it feels like if you make one decision here, you’re cutting off your path to make this decision over here….it can be so frustrating, when all your heart truly desires is to be back at the keyboard (or with your notebooks, or dictation device or whatever) creating a new story.
What works for me is to break whatever I’m trying to decide on into smaller pieces if I’m feeling paralyzed. What aspects can I agree (with myself) on? Sidenote: Ha! I’m sounding crazier and crazier here! Welcome to the writer life! Where do I need to do more research, or just force myself into making a choice to move forward? I also make pro and con lists when I’m really struggling with a certain decision.
Often, I’ll find my mind is actually made up — I know which direction I want or need to go, but for some reason I’m stalling. That reason is usually FEAR. In all caps. 🙂
In this brave new world, we’re seeing partnerships among creative people on a scale never before seen. It is EXCITING to be part of this growing and changing movement of creative expression and freedom.
It can also be another source of paralysis…because which opportunities are poor? Which are good? Which are GREAT?
Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing how all of these different platforms, partnerships, and styles are going to play out long term.
Indulge in the ability to be creative. Where your heart leads, follow. And keep trying new things. Who knows — you might find the next best way to reach readers, or you might find new allies and friends on your road to success.
Be open to opportunities. That doesn’t mean saying yes to everything. If it feels wrong, or doesn’t fit your current needs, say no. (In a friendly, professional way, of course!) Maybe write it down as something to come back to in a couple of months….the way I have with Google Play, where I still have not uploaded my books, many months after thinking about it and deciding I wasn’t sure about it, and then getting distracted by other things. Ahem. 🙂
I meant to include the perceived pressures that come with success in this post…but I ended up with too much to say on that topic, so it’s coming next week! Wishing you all a happy and productive week!!
For a full list of Own Your Writing Career posts in the order they were written, visit my Writers page. I’ll be back with another Own Your Writing Career post next Thursday. Until then, happy writing!!
“Own Your Writing Career: No Pressure. Seriously.” copyright © 2015 by J.R. Pearse Nelson