One Step Forward

Howdy, howdy!  Yesterday, after numerous rejections from agents (all of which were form rejections or close to it), I received my first full manuscript request.  I won’t say from where or who, because I understand that this is by no means an offer of representation, but it’s one step closer and that makes me super excited.  Even if I end up with a rejection at the end of this, at least I can say someone who is a complete stranger to me was interested in my work, which is a huge deal since I always wonder if people are only supportive of me because I’m cripple (it’s happened before).  Anyway, I’m getting off track.  Today, I want to talk about how the little steps are just as exciting and deserving of celebration as the ultimate goal you’re working towards.

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Kitty has the right idea.  One step at a time.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I honestly needed a reminder of it myself: the little successes are still successes.  I admit that I’ve been down lately with all of the rejections.  I let the feelings of being a failure and an imposter get to me.  It’s made writing hard and submitting things less than appealing.  I forgot that submitting things and writing words were little steps on the writing journey in their own right, whether they end well or not.   With all of the rejection writers (and artists of all kinds) face on a daily basis, we have to remember to celebrate the little things as well as the endgame.

Did you finish that short story or chapter today?  Treat yourself!  Is that your tenth (or hundredth) form rejection?  Take pride in the fact that you submitted that many times.  Did you get a lovely personal rejection?  That deserves a toast!  Without all of these little steps, some of which feel more like stumbles, we wouldn’t be moving forward.  And as long as we’re pushing on, we’re trying, and that’s all that matters.

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This applies to life way more than it should.

Sometimes, we go so far down the rabbit hole of imposter syndrome that we need a hand getting back to a point where we can see the little steps.  This boost could come as a surprise acceptance or a request for more, but more often than not, it comes from the support of people in the same situation.  We aren’t alone in these feelings.  If you can’t celebrate your own steps forward, help someone else to celebrate theirs.  Most of the time, it’s easier to notice other people’s achievements, so you’ll cheer them on and tell them that rejection is just one step closer to an acceptance, then eventually you’ll realize these are the things you should also be celebrating for yourself.  Help each other and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.  Celebrate your successes together!

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Support each other like these puppies support this baby!

So yeah, even though it’s easy to get distracted by the big endgame, don’t forget the little things that get you there.  It might take longer than you want, but if you stop trying, you’ll definitely never get to where you want to end up.  Keep moving forward.  Keep supporting each other.  But most importantly, keep celebrating all the little steps as well as the leaps and bounds.

Productivity Is Overrated

Hello, hello!  I know I’ve probably posted about feeling unproductive and all of that before, but I can’t find a specific post, so that’s what you’re getting today.  I asked for some blog topic suggestions for today’s post and my friends did not disappoint.  One of them asked “What do you do when you feel unproductive?”  Honestly, it depends on whether or not I’m actually being unproductive.  Just because I feel that way, doesn’t mean that I’m not just being too hard on myself.  So, the first step is to evaluate what I’ve done that day (or week or month or whatever) to decide if I’m being my own worst critic.  Then, I go from there.

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I am quite good at procrastination.

 If it turns out I really am being unproductive for the week (I go by the week because we’re all allowed a day for goofing off here and there), I suck it up and write or edit something or do whatever it is that I need to do.  Sometimes, I have to accept that I’m going to be unproductive in my writing if I have to do extra adulting (doctor’s appointments, the dentist, meetings, etc.) or if I want to go out and have a life or something, but that’s just being productive in different ways.  I have to remember that productivity comes in many different forms.

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That’s how it usually goes.

If I have been productive, I allow myself the chance to take a day off (unless deadlines are involved, then I kill myself with work until I’m done).  If you’ve been working steadily and have kept up with your work, one day of doing nothing isn’t going to hurt you.  It might actually help.  It gives you a chance to breathe and come back to the project rested and ready to look at it in a new light.  Self-care is a very specific type of productivity that seems unproductive to everyone else, but we all do it and we all need it.  If you’re ashamed of taking a day off, call it a “self-care day” and that helps make it feel more like you’re doing something.

 Then again, if I’ve been doing my writing and editing and all of that, but slacking in other areas, I re-prioritize my time for the day.  I read (which I always put on the back burner, sometimes for months) or I adult or I devote time to checking in on friends (not as often as I should) or whatever I’ve been ignoring.  There’s always going to be something I fall behind on.  I have to accept that.

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And that’s when it’s time to start writing again.

 It’s really hard to find a balance where I almost always feel productive.  I’m always slacking on one front or another.  But since I’ve convinced myself that productivity comes in many forms, it’s a little easier (and a lot more complicated, if that makes sense) to know when I’m truly being unproductive.  I think productivity is more about learning to prioritize your time around the things that need to be done.  Sometimes, that will mean cutting back on writing in order to take care of yourself.  And that’s okay.  It’s always going to be a juggling act, and there will be times when you drop a ball or two.  Pick them back up and start again.  Eventually, you’ll learn which ones you can leave off to the side until you’re ready to swap something out with them.  The point is, you keep trying and learning and growing.  That’s the most important thing: keep going.