It took me two years, from start to finish, to create my new novel, Forget Her. I learned a lot about writing along the way, from how to cope with criticism to how to handle burnout. Here are a few things I picked up throughout the process:
1. You can’t take criticism personally. Even though it stings when you’re told something you’ve been working on for ages isn’t as good as you thought, getting outside input is invaluable. The only way you’re going to grow as a writer (or a human being) is by opening yourself up to change. By listening to opinions. By remaining flexible. Remember, acting stubborn is only going to keep you stagnant. If your goal is to create the most captivating piece of writing possible, then you’re going to do whatever it takes to strengthen your craft.
2. You can’t rush to the finish line. Like most things in life, you need to remain patient. You aren’t going to complete a novel in a matter of days. It might take you months. It might take you years. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by how much work you need to accomplish, remind yourself to move one step at a time, write one word at a time. You’re going to get there eventually, as long as you put in the effort and stick to a reasonable schedule.
3. You can’t can’t compare yourself to other writers. Everyone’s journey is going to look different. You shouldn’t feel like a failure when you find out your favorite author writes 5,000 words on an average day when your best days involve 2,000 words. You shouldn’t feel like a failure when you discover another author you admire published their first novel at a younger age than you, either. Comparisons are only going to kill your enthusiasm. They’re not worth the heartache. Remember, every writer follows a different timeline. Every writer hits milestones at different moments.
4. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you want to write professionally, you need to take the process seriously. You need to put effort into your work (almost) every single day. You need to carve out plenty of time to work on your craft. However, you don’t want to push yourself too far. You don’t want to burn yourself out. You don’t want to end up hurting yourself while trying to pursue something that you love.
5. You can’t allow doubts to eat away at you. There are going to be people who act like you’re crazy for pursuing a writing career. Sometimes, you might feel crazy yourself. However, you need to ignore your doubts, your fears, your worst what-ifs. You need to focus on your passion above everything else. You need to remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place.
6. You can’t allow your definition of success involve other people. You’re going to end up disappointed if you’re only going to consider yourself a success if everyone loves you, everyone praises you, everyone thinks you’re the greatest artist to ever grace the planet. It’s important to set goals, but you can’t base your sense of self-worth on them. You need to remember, finishing what you’ve started is a success. Accomplishing what you set out to do is a success. Being proud of yourself is a success.