Setbacks in your writing career are inevitable; giving up as a writer is optional. These tips for overcoming setbacks when you’re writing your book will take you beyond the proposal. It’s time to venture into the wonderland of signing a publishing contract, writing towards a manuscript deadline, and working with editors on your traditionally published book.
My first book — Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back — is due in less than a month. It’s a nonfiction guide to help women walk through loss, into a new season of life. Each of the 10 chapters are inspired by a different Biblical woman’s experience with grief, loss, and unimaginable setbacks.
You’d think writing a book about overcoming setbacks would teach you how to deal with setbacks as a writer…but you’d be wrong. But, on the upside, you’re in the right (and write) place if you’re want to learn how to overcome setbacks in your writing career! Here are my five Blossom Tips for writers facing discouragement and disappointment.
Tell me, fellow scribe, what type of book you’re writing. What setback are you facing, and what might help you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you; feel free to scroll past my Blossomy tips and get right into the heart of the story.
The Blossom Tip: Expect setbacks when you’re writing a book — they’re normal, natural, and even healthy. Read my tips on how to overcome obstacles, pick one or two that resonate with you, and keep working towards your goal of getting published!
You’ll learn more from listening to your inner voice and writing through your setbacks than thumbing through my tips. Not that there’s anything wrong with my Blossom Tips! It’s just that the answers are within you. You know more than you think.
5 Tips for Overcoming Setbacks When You’re Writing a Book
My “She Blossoms” blog posts are broken up into five different categories, or Blossom Tips. This ensures I cover the whole gamut: spirit, heart, soul, body, and brain. And, the separate Blossom Tips help you identify which one will help you overcome setbacks when you’re writing a book.
For instance, maybe you need a little spiritual TLC (tender loving care) — so the first tip will fire up your faith. Maybe you need emotional or psychological healing (Heart Blossoms) or creative fire (Soul Blossoms). Or maybe you need a kick in the patootie! That’s the Body Blossoms tip, for a physical push. And finally…your brain. Maybe you just need to stop, think, and decide the smartest way to overcome a setback when you’re writing your book.
1. Spirit Blossoms – Trust the Spirit’s Flow
Some writers call it “the muse”, others “the universe.” Me, I call Him the Holy Spirit. He’s the source of all inspiration, wisdom, guidance, and creativity! I listen, He sends ideas. I write them down. Most writers — from unknown bloggers to famous best-selling authors to script writers to show runners — ascribe their ideas to some sort of unknown source of inspiration.
My first tip on how to overcome setbacks when you’re writing a book involves showing up so the Spirit can work through you. Yes, you’ll still face setbacks. Even prolific Christian authors (John Grisham, I’m looking at you) need to show up at their desks and listen for the Spirit’s guidance through the snares, tangles, problems and traps that spring when they’re writing books. Overcoming setbacks is simply part of the writing process.
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2. Heart Blossoms – Identify the Source of the Setback
Are you coping with writing fears and anxiety? Maybe you’re sabotaging yourself, or you’re limiting how far you can go as a writer. I did that for years; I chained myself to blogging because I was scared to write books. Well….maybe more lazy than scared. I was making good money as a blogger, I loved the freedom and lack of accountability, and it was easy and fun. I knew I’d be facing setbacks as a writer — not to mention a published book author — so I didn’t push myself.
What writing setbacks are you facing that you have control over? You can’t control whether your book is accepted by a literary agent or publishing house, but you can control who and how you send your book proposal. You can’t control how readers respond to your blog posts, but you can control how often you blog, what you write about, and how you share your message with the world.
3. Soul Blossoms – Find Non-Writing Tips for Overcoming Setbacks
A creative tip for facing and dealing with obstacles when you’re writing a book is to apply unrelated strategies to your problem. How, for example, did you deal with an unrelated setback in your normal life? (because writing, as we know, is abnormal). How do you solve a problem in your home, workplace, family, community, or forest?
In How to Overcome Setbacks to Healing a Broken Heart I share tips for overcoming pain after a breakup. Every one of those tips can apply to overcoming setbacks when you’re writing a book. When you’re searching for solutions to the “writer’s obstacles” you face, find creative ways to think about your problem. Bonus: this is a smart way to flex your creative writing muscles.
4. Body Blossoms – Stand Up and Stop Slouching
I stand while writing. My husband rigged me a stand up “desk” — it’s just slats of wood fitted together to accommodate my height. I can’t sit for long, just because my butt and back gets sore, and I get tired and bored. I also can’t fall asleep! I don’t get as tired when I’m standing.
How does this help me (and you) overcome setbacks when you’re writing a book? I told you, I don’t have the answers! You do. Unless, of course, you twigged when I said I don’t get tired when I stand and write. I’m more energized, which makes it easier to think about how to get around those writing setbacks.
Speaking of thinking…
5. Brainy Blossoms – Create a Schedule and Stick to It
I’ve been freelance writing and blogging for 10 years. I thought I was disciplined, until my literary agent Janet Grant told me that after I submit my manuscript on April 2, I’ll have to create a marketing schedule — and stick to that plan. In the past, I flitted in and out of plans and schedules as I pleased, because I could (except, of course, when I had external deadlines with magazine editors, online publishers, or writing contest entries).
Sidenote: Janet founded Books & Such Literary Management, which has an excellent blog called Between the Lines.
Use your God-given brains to create a writing schedule that has nothing to do with overcoming setbacks. Just plan how you’ll write your book, when you’ll steal bits of writing time, and how far you’ll get every week. For example, I gave myself one week for every chapter when I first started writing my book (Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back). Then on the second pass, I revised two chapters a week. Now, on my third pass, I’m revising three or four chapters a week. I had no idea if that schedule would work, but hallelujah! It did. I’m humbled and awed by God, for it really is Him.
One last tip on how to overcome setbacks when you’re writing a book: meet regularly with other writers, and set up an accountability schedule. Here are a few ideas: 7 Tips for Starting a Writers’ Group – Writing Alone, Together.
The Blossom Tip: Expect setbacks when you’re writing a book. Develop a plan or strategy for overcoming obstacles so you can pursue your dreams of getting published!
What do you think, fellow scribes? What is your biggest obstacle to writing a book…and how do you plan to overcome it?
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