But it's also a very ... fragile process.
If my confidence gets shaken, or my resolve gets shattered, or I let too much noise into my head, it can set me back for days, weeks--maybe even months.
So I've learned that I have to sort of ... nurture my inner-writer--protect that part of myself in various ways, in order to keep myself going. And I've developed a few personal rules I try to live by in order to do that:
I write for me.
Yes, in order to be published I have to think about what agents / editors / publishers / readers / reviewers / teachers / librarians might want from my story. But I CAN'T think about any of that when I'm writing--especially in the drafting stage. At that point I'm just writing to entertain myself, to see the story in my head play out on the page. As long as I'm having fun and liking what I'm seeing, I'm good. I'll worry about all those other people in the revision stage.
I have full permission to suck.
Writing is rewriting. It really, really is. Sure, we all wish we could get it right the very first time. But that just doesn't happen--at least not for the draft as a whole. There's always some stuff that's salvageable--and the more I write the more salvageable stuff I seem to get. But on the whole, I'm going to spew out a whole lot of stuff that SUCKS in the beginning. And that's okay. That's just Step One in the process. Word vomit on the page. I will clean it up later.
My writing life is a drama-free zone.
Honestly, I have no time or tolerance for drama in any part of my life--but DEFINITELY not in my writing life. I surround myself only with supportive, talented, encouraging writer friends who build me up when I need it, push me to make every word I type the best it can be, and cheer me along at every victory--big or small. Nothing can be more discouraging or damaging to a writers confidence than being surrounded by competition or comparison or negativity. So if I see any sign of that (which fortunately doesn't happen very often in the children's writing world) I separate myself as quickly as possible.
My journey is my own.
It's HARD not to compare myself to others--but that is such a toxic, destructive thing that I take extra care to prevent it from happening. I refuse to let myself dwell on how much a book sold for or how fast it sold or how much publicity it's getting. Sure--I'm aware of it. It's impossible not to be, and honestly, I always want to be able to celebrate for my friends, so I want to know what's happening for them. But then I force myself to put that out of my mind. It's not easy to do, but here's how I do it: I love what *I'm* writing. Do I wish someone else loved it enough to snatch it up for seven figures within mere hours of me typing, "The end"? Sure. Who doesn't? But if they don't, I'm okay with that, because *I* love it. It's *my* book--the book *I* wanted to write. At the end of the day, that's what matters.
I write the way that works for me.
Some people write in public. Some people write in groups. Some people write on a schedule, with daily goals and deadlines. Some people write at a desk. Some people need total silence. Me, I write at home, alone, in my bed with my laptop, for large blocks of time but without any specific word count goals and I always have music playing. That's what works for me--and it took me a while to figure that out. Now that I have, that's what I stick to.
Writing is priority one.
Okay, obviously my husband and family and health and such come before writing. But all the other stuff: blogging, Facebook, Twitter, email, WriteOnCon, Bookanistas, reading, whatever. All of that is great and I try to give it as much priority as I can, because I really do enjoy it. But writing has to come first. So if I'm too busy to blog, I take some time off. I disappear from social media when it's becoming overwhelming. Or I take a break from reading/reviewing. Or my email response time increases. And I try not to let myself feel guilty about that. Because really, what good is all that other stuff if it chokes out my time to write?
I know some of those seem obvious, but it's amazing how easy it is to forget those things. And it can be HARD to stick to those rules. But I try to be vigilant about it.
Writing is a beautiful, wonderful dream--and an intense passion of mine. It's something worth protecting. So I fight to keep it safe and nurtured. Any way I can.
What about you guys? Any goals/rules you set for yourself to keep your writing life well nurtured?