So here are my Top 5 ways to keep at least one foot in the door.
Whether on the giant white board I bought at Wal-Mart when it was on clearance, or a pretty pink notepad I snagged at goodwill for 50¢, I have something to write down ideas on. Something that I pass by daily and look at to remember that there are some crazy ideas banging around in my head that need let out before they rot something important like my social security number from it's resting place. Because stories breed inside a story-teller's brain, and those things can wreck havoc if they aren't let out on occasion.
2. New Writing and Organization Techniques
I am a YouTube addict, and my latest rabbit hole is the Happy Planner hacks search. I've accumulated the MAMBI punch and I'm well on my way to hoarder status of their sticker books and inserts. When I found out the "Big" planners took 8 1/2 X 11 sheets of paper, I was all aflutter with the possibilities. Once I get my series notes in there and play around with it, I'll have to show you my set up. Outside the planner realm, I'm also watching other Authortubers and sorting through new ideas for plotting, character development, and even browsing the Romance Writers of America forums for classes to try. I have learned I need outside deadlines. And even having a class will help make me show up in ways I might not otherwise.
3. Outlet for Frustration
Here's the big one. You need someone to bitch to. And I'm not talking a best friend, or a family member. You need someone else in the industry to bitch to. Someone who knows the heart palpitations you get from hitting send on that query, and refreshing your email even though you know damn well it hasn't been anywhere close to when you'd hear back on your submission. And you need someone to go over your outgoing emails when you're pissed to make sure you don't burn a bridge. This industry is smaller than many people think, and having someone in your corner to tell you honestly when you're about to do something massively stupid is important. MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE NEED THIS. Find your industry peeps, and send DMs. Go out for coffee and complain. Skype and bemoan what that bitch said about your book. BUT DON'T GO ON FB LIVE AND RANT. Find your tribe, and hold on tight.
4. Brag Book
This can be a physical book, but mine is just a file on my computer. I fill it with things that make me happy. My review in RT Book Reviews, the online reviewers that really got me, and even my top selling moments, are all in there in digital form for me to look over. I took a class last year that made me email people I respected and ask them to name three things they in turn respected about me. I saved their responses, because I had NO idea what I meant to other people around me, or that they thought so much of me. When I'm really down, I pull that shit out, dust myself off, and head back in. If you are feeling down, do this. I ate Tums like candy the day I sent off those messages, but it did me a world of good.
Find your tribe. Find your writing group. Find that one soul on the internet that understands the beauty of writing a book about a Bigfoot Burlesque Dancer Romance, and share that dream together. Don't think there is someone out there for your to connect with? You're wrong. When you are doing the speed dating thing for author friends don't go in expecting best-selling authors to read your book and give you detailed feedback. Find author groups and lurk to see if the vibe matches yours. What books do you love to read? Join reader groups and talk about the books you're reading, and maybe the people you meet will turn you on to new authors which might show you new blogs to follow, and new events to attend. Check out Romance Writers of America (IRWA if you're in the Indianapolis, IN area). See if they have chapters near you and go to a meeting. Does your local library have a writing group? See what they're writing. Go to any damn coffee shop during NaNoWriMo and look for the person with their head in their hands glaring at the computer screen and buy them a cup filled with caffeine. I promise you, people are out there. But you have to find them.
I didn't realize until recently how forgiving and wonderful my own tribe is. I found friends that I may not have talked to for years, but will still walk up and give me a hug, because we both know how fucking insane life is, and we're ready to be there for the other person.
One of my tribe is the fantastic Mary Hughes. (http://maryhughesbooks.com Go buy her stuff. She's awesome.) We started chatting because I was obsessed with her mist-to-get-naked vampires, and her one-liners. I emailed her and said I owed her a beer. It was the start of our friendship, and if we ever meet, inevitable alcohol poisoning.
She sent me this video from a blog I did for her, and I realized that sometimes I need to look at my own work, and reinvigorate myself. I can't believe the words are mine, and yet I remember the motivation behind them. Thanks to Mary for this video where I was chatting about my sexy nonagenarian robo-babe and reminding me why I keep going back to the whiteboard.