Up past the tires and so very stuck that he needed to call his excavator to come and pull him out with a dump truck. That’s pretty darn stuck if you ask me. He was back up, calm, careful, cool, and collected.
That’s what challenges, pitfalls and setbacks do: they kill our momentum.
All throughout life—not just in writing—we run into these little suckers.
A flat tire on the side of the road on your way to Disney World.
Food poisoning after that delicious steak.
Something in your eye right after you put on mascara and right before you go on stage.
A form rejection letter right when your hope was at it’s highest.
A bad review when your book finally releases into the world.
Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz knows what I’m talking about.
Poor thing had it rough.
Not to mention the lions and the tigers and bears, oh my, Dorothy was stuck in the middle of a witch feud wearing uncomfortable red shoes. Then there were the evil apple trees and deadly poppies, a wizard-who-wasn’t-really-a-wizard-after-all-but-just-a-really-good-techno-pyro-guy-with-identity-issues-and-a-scary-green-head, and the creepiest flying monkeys ever created in cinematic history (granted, those planet of the Apes people in the 70’s were pretty terrifying, too, but you get me).
Challenges and set backs and pitfalls met her at every turn and twist on that yellow brick road . . . just as they do in every good story.
As they do in every good life.
And they’re bound to come.
Even the yellow-ist of the yellow brick roads has a few pot holes worn into the gold stone just sitting there, waiting to pop that momentum and leave you stuck on the side of the road.
If you choose to stay stuck, that is.
For writers, both published and unpublished, those lions and tigers and bears come in many forms. And they don’t happen just once a year, or once a month, or once a week, or even once a day. They happen every hour from moment to moment. Some of these greatest challenges are:
Comparisons: In college I wrote this short little poem when I was apparently feeling particularly vulnerable: “A comparison blushed on the face of the moon, for who can compare with the sun?” Comparisons—those tiny thoughts and nagging notions that pop up every moment. The harsh way we compare ourselves and our work to other people and their work. “I’m not as good at description as they are.” “That book is funnier than mine.” “I only have 1, 500 friends on Facebook, not 2,000 like he does.” “I wish my plot was as creative as this one.” “They got a good review and mine is terrible.” Comparisons stifle our creativity, snuff out our momentum, and hinder our greatest gift—our greatest talent—to be completely and utterly ourselves. And as soon as we can start to silence all the comparisons, the sooner we become free to write and revise and create and live and move and fall and rise as only we, as individuals, can.
Time-Management: Oooo, this is a beauty of a pitfall. Even the most organized of day planners can get sabotaged by that ever tick-tocking clock. There are dishes to do, kids to take care of, a vacuum to run, a critique to finish, a book to start reading, a book to start writing, the dogs that need walked, oh, and you have to check Pinterest and Facebook and then Tweet about your Facebook, Facebook about your tweet, blog about both, and then tweet and Facebook about your blog. There are a million and one things that reach and call and demand our time. And then, when we finally cross of an item on our list, it is quickly replaced by another need-to-do. That is the way of it. It’s just up to us to try and balance the time between all of those things that call our name throughout the day, to have grace for ourselves when we spend a little too much time Facebook stalking, and to try and move forward and keep our momentum going into the next moment.
Reviews: These little buggers can be some of the biggest momentum stoppers for those that have finally—after years of blood, sweat, ink, and tears—been published. What an accomplishment, right?! Yes! Yet, one bad or negative review can send us into the “depths of despair” (to quote Anne Shirley) and we’d like nothing better than to just pull over on the side of the road, get out, and cry. And go ahead, have a good cry and even eat some chocolate. But then pull yourself up, dust off your buttocks (which might be slightly bigger depending on how much chocolate was consumed), and keep going. And another piece of advice? Try not to read reviews. I know they are oh-so-tempting little nuggets…but really, even stopping to bask in your own glory can make you stumble into another pothole 🙂
So now . . . my husband’s truck is out of the ditch and it’s back to it’s happy, if not a little bit dented and a little more worn, life as a truck.
So it’s not about when challenges will come up, and not even about what those challenges will be . . . it’s about what we do with them.