The Writer's Life: Give Yourself Grace
by Amy O'Quinn
Have you ever experienced a season of discouragement in your writing life when nothing seems to go right, and no matter what you do, you keep messing up? Did you make a commitment to yourself to write consistently for three hours each afternoon, but you fizzled out after three weeks? Did you misread the submission guidelines only to find your returned, unread manuscript in your mailbox? Are you the reason that a line of people had to reorganize their schedules in order to compensate for your missed deadline? This list can go on and on.
The thing is—you aren’t blaming anyone else except yourself. You already know you’re the one who dropped the ball. Moreover, your continuing streak of writing mishaps may be enough to make you may feel like quitting. Why did you ever think you had what it takes to be a writer?
Stop! Take a deep breath. Refocus. Don’t lose hope, but do lose the negative attitude. And remember these three words—give yourself grace. Then, just start again. And again. And again.
Most of us are willing to give grace to others when they slip up. Why do we have such trouble extending that same grace to ourselves? It’s a fact of life that there will be times when things don’t go our way. To be honest, there will be many times when we keep messing up despite our best intentions. Yes, it’s important to have goals and schedules. And indeed, meeting deadlines demonstrates that you are a professional. That’s important.
However. . .
If you’ve already made more mistakes than you want to admit, it doesn’t mean your career has to stall or stagnate. If being a writer is truly important to you, keep going. Get through this season, and realize you are gaining experience through every trial, as well as through every success.
When you are having a bad day, week, month (or year!), try this:
• Re-establish or regain your vision for why you want to be a writer in the first place. Think about why the effort is worth it.
• Put your past mistakes into perspective, because they don’t define your future!
• Re-evaluate your writing habits and schedules. If something truly needs changing—change it!
• Remember you’re only human, and besides that, life happens. Sometimes, things are simply beyond your control.
There will always be occasions when a good, swift kick in the pants is the answer. But there will also be times when being kind to yourself is even more important. Know the difference.
You’ll still make mistakes sometimes. That’s normal. You’ll still get discouraged from time to time. That’s okay. But don’t give up and don’t lose hope. Just give yourself lots of grace and keep going! After all, you never know what tomorrow will bring!
*Article originally appeared on The Work Writer's Club website HERE.