Being a writer is challenging at times. It’s not just the writing. Over the last two years, I’ve written a nonfiction book, built my platform, worked on my website (more than once), hosted book talks, and now I continue to write for several websites as a guest expert in the area of self-help and women’s issues.
This guest post is by Cherilynn Veland, MSW, LCSW. Veland is a self-advocacy expert and counselor with deep experience in women’s issues, stress, abuse and addiction. She is author of Stop Giving It Away: How to Stop Self-Sacrificing, and Start Claiming Your Space, Power, and Happiness, which is available now at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and wherever books are sold. Cherilynn’s tips were recently featured on Good Day Chicago, Psychology Today, and SheKnows.com; and Stop Giving It Away was named winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Book Awards, in the Women’s Issues category. Connect with Cherilynn at StopGivingItAway.com, Facebook.com/StopGivingItAway, or Twitter @cherilynnveland.
My writing challenges vary and can be more or less on any given day, but they generally fall into five categories.
1. Distractions, when the kids or my husband seem helpless. They really are not.
2. Feeling overwhelmed, when the demands are more than I can handle some days.
3. Crickets, when the audience is too quiet. It can take time to build an audience, and I know that my work is out there in a sea filled with other impassioned authors.
4. Feelings, when readers share their personal stories and my heart aches for what they’re going through.
5. Negative feedback, when a mistake is made (and they happen to everybody) or when someone doesn’t understand my message or completely disagrees.
In response to these challenges, and with a a lot of trial and error, I use a couple of techniques to help me stay the course and keep writing.
Stack the deck.
A good friend of mine, who also happens to be seasoned reporter for a national newspaper, gave me this simple technique of mentally stacking the deck into my personal success plan.
How I stack my deck: I make sure my kids have a place to go and something to do. I go to my favorite coffee shop and sit down with my computer or journal and my favorite coffee drink or a tea. I say my meditations in the morning and work out to get the oxygen flowing. I wear an outfit I feel good in. I turn off my cell phone and set a limit as to how many emails I can check before I dive in.
Build a personal firewall.
A computer uses a firewall to protect against virus attacks so why not create a mental firewall for yourself? [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] My book, Stop Giving It Away, covers boundaries and how to use them to make life better and less stressful. Your firewall is one of the most powerful boundaries you can put into place considering the energy, creativity and commitment that goes into everything you write.
How my firewall works: It’s a simple visualization where I put myself into a glass phone booth and type away, no matter what sounds (including moaning and groaning from the children) go on around me.
Your firewall might be a closed door, a mantra that reminds you of why you write, or a simple, “No, I am working right now and can’t be disturbed. Please help yourself.”
My firewall protects me from getting discouraged by that post that doesn’t have any comments or the person who completely disagrees with my ideas about women and the culture of self-sacrifice, which inspired me to write my book in the first place.
While I’m on the subject of self-sacrifice, it’s worth mentioning that we can become so involved with our writing that we neglect either ourselves or our family and friends. If you find yourself turning away shooing off what’s truly important, priceless in life even, more often than not, you may be sacrificing too much for your craft.
Cherish the time you have with your kids if you are a mom. Cherish the time you have with your significant other if you have one, or your mom, your grandpa or a sweet friend who actually really needs you right now. Cherish the time you can take for yourself to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.