Setting Forward

26 Oct

I try to stay positive here. I really do. MG Buehrlen makes fun of my “rants” on twitter, but I’m typically snarking when I’m ranting – lots of laughter is involved.

 The negative stuff? That’s for girlfriends. Or a journal. Or for burying deep down and saving for therapy later when my tortured writer’s soul can’t take it any longer.

But today I want to talk a little about set backs. And I’m going to get a little personal. Don’t worry, not TMI personal.

When I first started writing, it was all I could do. It was like I was a story junkie. All I wanted to do was write, write, write. It was a high. Nothing mattered. Word count, deadlines, audience. Nothing. What mattered was telling the story.

Ahhhhh, it was a simpler time.

Sometimes I long for that time. I long for the chance to write nonsense for no one. Just tell my story. I long for the days when making sure everything was solid wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was just to sit down as often as possible and write till I was too bleary-eyed to write any more.

That time shifted. Writing become more focused.  I set aside my first genre – I glance at it longingly from my new genre.  I turned down an agent for genre 1.  I worked diligently at genre 2…while still glancing longingly at genre 1.  I got an agent.  I left the agent.  I felt down because it seemed like I lost a year.  A YEAR.  I got my new agent — Lauren, Laird of the Clan Macleod — I rewrote for the Laird, I rewrote the second book of the series.  We plan to do everything for book 1.  Book 2 finals in the Golden Heart.  Brakes screech.  What does finaling mean?  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  But, don’t wait passively, work on the next thing.  Don’t think about the contest, just write.  Wait.  What do I write?  Something new or something part of that series?  Write and wait.  Ok, that was fun.  Now write more stuff.  But stay focused.  And wait. I joined a group.  The group did not work out. I rethought all that.  I kept writing. And waiting. Passively waiting (which would be acitvely doing something else.)

Of course, I said it last week. I said it before. I’ll say it until someone makes a bumper sticker and plasters it everywhere (Note to Self: design bumper sticker) –> There is no waiting in write.


If you’re looking at that list and seeing the waiting and the changes in direction and the “having” to focus on one thing when something else may be calling you… then you’re seeing the wrong things.

There are enough ways to be a writer that don’t involve planning or game changes.

If you want to do that – publish in a straight line – you’re probably going to have to self-publish. It’s the only way to have 100% (or close to that) of the process in yoru hands. My friend Mel has started a great site, Author Rescue, where this is part of the ongoing discussion.

If you don’t want to do that, then you need to learn to adjust your thinking.

These are not set backs. They’re set forwards. Every time – every time – you adjust something to make your writing career more viable, you’re setting forward.

Monday I talked about books that are your “stone in the water book — that may have shifted your writing stream” – today I’m telling you about events that do the same thing.

If you’re not setting forward, if you’re allowing those things to be set backs, barriers, road blocks, stop signs, etc, then all you’re going to do is pound your head against that stream shifting stone.

Don’t ignore the stone. Learn to flow. Set yourself forward.

15 Responses to “Setting Forward”

  1. Rachel Firasek October 26, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    This is exactly the right attitude to have! I’ve done my own struggling as of late, but like you, I’m pulling myself back up off the floor and trudging on. It’s the path to success. I hope you don’t mind, but I posted the link to this blog to several loops. I think it’s important that we share our motivation, not just our triumphs or (hehe) rants. You so rock, girl!

  2. Liz Crowe October 26, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    A beautifully written post. thank you!

  3. briaq October 26, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    @Rachel – Wow. Thanks. I hope people see it in the way it was meant. We writers? We can overcome anything with the right mind set!

    @Liz – Thank you so much.

  4. Sharla Lovelace October 26, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Amen…Ditto…and Halleluia!!! I feel ya, girl. Traditional pubbing is a giant lesson in losing control, and nothing being in the order you think it should. LOL! Wait, and then start the next thing, but then hurry up with revisions, ignore that, go back to this, wait again, but be working on number two to meet your deadline… Whew!! But it’s an awesome ride and I’m glad to be on it!!

  5. briaq October 26, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    And do it all at once!!! LOL Sharla – too true.

  6. Christine Ashworth October 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Well said. I’ve been writing for ten years, and I’ve had to set forward many times. I don’t think it changes as we become more successful, either – the reasons for setting forward just change. Thanks for the post!

  7. abby mumford October 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    i think the fact you’re named it a “set forward” is an indication your mind and your attitude is in the right place. positive thinking goes a looong way in life and in this business. just like you’re going to.

  8. alisonstone October 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Great post. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like I was spinning my wheels and had to remind myself it was all part of the learning process.

  9. briaq October 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    @Christine – that’s some great perseverance! thanks for sharing.

    @abby – you know me, alllllllways making up my own words and sayings

    @alison – It made me giggle to see you comment since I start writing the weekend I met you basically!

  10. lizziefriend October 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Well said! And so true. There’s no waiting and no such thing as lost time spent writing. I love that quote (blanking on where it’s from, but it gets tossed around a lot) about needing to get through a certain volume of crap before you get to the good stuff. It’s not a waste of time, it’s a means to an end.

  11. briaq October 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    So true. Learning to be fluid gets you thru a lot of that crap too! 🙂


  12. Kat Cantrell October 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Did I ever need to hear this as I’m working on my own genre 2 and longingly thinking about genre 3 while I have genre 1 on submission, which I’m pretty sure has no chance. Genre 2 is the one I believe has the greatest chance of allowing me to become a Paid Author. Since that’s my goal, I’m learning everything I can about how to sell in genre 2 and one day, maybe I’ll be able to focus on all 3. I like thinking of genre 2 as a set forward. I like thinking of it as a means to win the writing lottery. So thanks.

    PS You’re the most positive person I know. You inspire me all the time.

  13. Tom Attwood October 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Thank you for a wonderful post – it brings rationality to my repeated course changes in the last year(s). Set-forwards, a marvellous way of making lemonade when encountering lemons.

    Thanks again

  14. Louise Behiel October 26, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    so very true. thanks for putting it all into perspective


  15. briaq October 27, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    @Kat – Awwww thanks. I’m so glad it was timely for you. It seems like we all need timely reminders that no path is straight except the boring, cement laid ones 😉

    @Tom – Thanks so much. All I need is a boat load of sugar for that lemondae 😉

    @Louise – Thanks Louise, it’s nice to hear when something strikes a cord with people!

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