Something I've learned over the years is to keep the flag flying, no matter what.
The barrier most often encountered by artists of any description, and especially writers, is the seemingly incessant effort towards the goal which seems just out of reach. We are all familiar with the “three steps forward, two steps back” phenomenon.
An agent likes your book, and you’re on Cloud Nine. Then it gets rejected and you plunge into the depths of despair. No one is ever going to want your book, you think. Why do I bother? Or you've already abandoned that chase and gone DIY, but haven't sold much yet. Waste of time, you say. Might as well pack it in.
“Don’t quit the day job!” Ever heard that old chestnut? In other words, don’t believe in your dream. I’m not saying we should all turn in our notice and leave tomorrow. Obviously we all have to live. But just because it doesn’t seem to be happening right now doesn’t mean you should give up.
Every time you give up on your dreams, you die a little bit more.
There’s a way to beat the “just out of reach” treadmill, whatever you are trying to do in life. And it’s particularly relevant in a field like writing where the competition is huge and we’re all trying to get a piece of the action.
It’s quite simple: aim as high as you can!
Don’t be fooled into modest ambitions by the negative voices in your head. We think if we don’t ask too much, we’ll be rewarded for not being greedy. Don’t you believe it! Truth is, if you ask for too little, you’ll get less. Why? Because that’s the way the cookie crumbles on this planet, that’s all. Look around you. You'll see it everywhere.
If you dream about getting a book published, up the ante and make it a trilogy or a series. Make it a whole shelf-full of books. The higher you dream, the more likely you are to beat the negatives and get that book published. If you hope for 10 sales, make it 100, 1000. Don't be stingy!
It’s weird, but you have out-smart negative vibes by pushing the boat out on positives. If negatives kick in, fight back with positives. Your book boomerangs back from an agent. Immediately send it out to three more. And write the next book, believing you are going to need it. You self-publish and your sales are low this week, keep dreaming of selling hundreds every day.
If you want to reach the moon, aim for the stars. You'll get there.
[Image "Touching Heaven" by kind permission of David Evans Bailey, digital artist]