I can keep track of dozens of books in multiple series, yet I often lose track of the scripts running in my own head. This is a problem, because my thoughts aren’t always running along the tracks I intend. Often, they’re off the rails entirely. I can lose perspective and get bogged down in minutia—things that really don’t matter in the long run. If I don’t pay close attention, thoughts will take center stage that seem rational but are actually based in fear or self-doubt.
After my first novel was rejected, I wrote six more before I sent one to a publisher. Six. While I do believe that I needed to get all those words out—all those stories—to learn the craft and grow and become the writer I am today, I know that toward the end I was stalling.
When I sat down to write the seventh book, I looked at my self-talk and knew I needed to make a change. So I wrote three simple words on a three by five card and stuck it on the bulletin board above my writing desk. Three words and a very important punctuation mark.
“You are ready.”
No ifs, ands, or buts—and certainly no doubts. I wanted to remind myself that I had done the research, practiced, studied, integrated everything I had learned and was still learning, and I sure as heck had put in the time. There would be more things to learn, of course, and challenges to overcome. But I wanted—needed—to remind myself of this simple truth.
Having that reminder helped all through the first draft and every one that followed. It helped when I sent out the query for the seventh book and all through the process of learning more and more about the publishing process when it (Wandering Soul) was picked up.
I still sometimes take a deep breath and focus on those three words and that very important little dot. There’s so much more to do—books to write, series to develop, and all sorts of things to learn along the way. This statement continues to serve as my lantern when the lights seem to dim. They remind me that I’ll keep finding my way.