Ways to overcome hitting the proverbial brick wall

Before I begin this week’s blog, I’d like to welcome Diana Quincy, who has officially joined The Violet Femmes. This busy author juggles family, a day job, and writing. Her first book, Seducing Charlotte, is available now. And we can look forward to reading the sequel, Tempting Bella, which will be available September 9th. Click the “Our Books” tab for links to Diana’s books, and catch up with Diana and her latest releases at http://dianaquincy.com. Welcome, Diana, and we look forward to reading your posts!

Rejection, low contest scores, plot or conflict issues, negative feedback on your WIP? Sound familiar to anyone? Or should I say, does this sound familiar to EVERYONE! Like most of us who’ve embarked on this writing journey, you can identify with one or all of these. All can negatively impact our confidence and weaken our desire to continue to pursue our dream.

Generally, I’m a positive person and work hard to accomplish any goal that’s important to me. But I’d be lying if I said I never succumbed to feeling like I’ve hit a wall and can’t figure out a way to get to the other side.

A few months ago, I listened to a motivational speaker from my day job who spoke about accomplishing goals. Her name’s Vernice Armour (http://vernicearmour.com/), and she’s the United States Marine Corps’ first African American female pilot. I found her words very inspiring and applicable to any aspect of your life. Here are some key takeaways and how I related them to writing.

“Acknowledge obstacles but don’t give them power.” Vernice Armour

We’re told when we first started writing that it’s a hard business to break into. It’s a hard realization to understand until you’re there. And once you are, you have two choices: you can put that manuscript and your laptop away or you can keep going. Start a new project or revise your WIP, applying lessons you’ve learned along the way. Keep working to perfect your craft and to make your writing the best it can be. Continue to pitch your stories and seek alternative forms of publication.

“Develop your peripheral vision without losing the main target.” Vernice Armour

As Jaye wrote about last week, we all have a dream of where we want our writing career to be in one, three, or five or more years. But we need to be careful when pursuing that goal, not to narrow our focus so much that we don’t see other potential options that may also achieve that goal, but differently than we thought. As the publishing landscape changes, it makes available doors that didn’t exist a few years ago. Don’t close yourself off to opportunities because it wasn’t part of your original plan.

“Bloom where you’re planted.” Vernice Armour

This is my favorite quote from Vernice. Wherever you are in your career, do the best to succeed. And by succeed, I mean succeed based on YOUR definition of success. That’s the only one that matters. Make the most of what you have or what cards you’re dealt. As a kid, I remember my mom telling me that there’s always someone who has something better than what you have. It may be nicer clothes, a bigger house, or a faster car. As a writer, there’s always going to be someone who gets the bigger contract, sells more books, or gets sold. But try, as hard is it may, not to compare your accomplishments to those of other writers. It’s not fair to you and won’t help progress your career.

“Failure is not your final destination.” Vernice Armour

Need I say anymore? We’re all in this to succeed, which ultimately means getting published. There are many steps between typing “Chapter 1” and getting published. There are small victories along the way. Finishing your first story is a major accomplishment. When you’ve polished it the best you can, submit it to agents and editors. You’ll get rejections, but hopefully you’ll gain knowledge that will help strengthen your writing. Submit for RWA PRO. This is another huge milestone on your way to publication and shows your determination to succeed.

Get moving. Writing is a solitary job and it’s very easy to plant ourselves down in front of the computer with a bowl full of Tostitos. Make sure you take care of your body and your mind. Stay away from the snack foods—they may be good but could suck away your creative energy—and eat healthier. Get up, even if it’s to walk around your house or the block. Have fun with friends and family. You can’t eat, sleep, and drink writing 24×7. Give your mind a break and do something you enjoy.

Here’s a fun collage my daughter helped me create. It celebrates some wonderful accomplishments and memorable moments since having started to write.

Top Left: 2012 Violet Femmes (Jenna, Maria, Joanna, Michele, Jaye); Top Right: Michele & Diana with Joanna after her RWA Golden Heart win; Lower left: Michele & Jenna after winning PYHIAB in 2012; Lower right: RoseAnn, PA DePaul, Michele accepting their First Sale at NJRW; Center: Maria, Joanna, Lita Harris, Emma Kaye, & Maria Imbalzano with their First Sale awards at NJRW

Top Left: 2012 Violet Femmes (Jenna, Maria, Joanna, Michele, Jaye); Top Right: Michele & Diana with Joanna after her RWA Golden Heart win; Lower left: Michele & Jenna after winning PYHIAB in 2012; Lower right: RoseAnn, PA DePaul, Michele accepting their First Sale at NJRW; Center: Maria, Joanna, Lita Harris, Emma Kaye, & Maria Imbalzano with their First Sale awards at NJRW

I’ve met some wonderful women since joining NJRW, and am proud to celebrate everyone’s success. As I accepted my First Sale award from NJRW this past Saturday, I realized how powerful we all are. I can remember being a nervous introvert at my first NJRW meeting four years ago. And while the introvert tendency still lurks in me, my network of talented and smart women has empowered me to be a better writer and step out of my shell.

While I was talking to Joanna, Michele, and RoseAnn at lunch over the weekend about my blog post, Joanna mentioned Ashton Kutcher’s speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards. After listening to it, I was impressed by what he had to say. I’ve pasted a link to it below. It’s not long and has some good words of wisdom. Thanks, Joanna!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6Wb0CkVuGw

As a writer, I’ve bloomed into the next phase of my writing career. And while I know there will continue to be ups and downs, I’m grateful for all I’ve accomplished. I hope all of you reading this will look for ways to acknowledge but not enable any obstacles you face. And remember, FAILURE IS NOT YOUR FINAL DESTINATION!

Hugs,

Maria

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16 Comments

  1. The NJRW is a great group and so supportive of their members! I wish you all the best success and really enjoyed reading your blog and quotes!

    Reply
  2. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  August 19, 2013

    Maria,

    I think you have a future as a motivational speaker! Hold on to these notes. You’re going to want to reference them when you’re prepping keynote addresses years down the road. You’ve got some powerful stuff here.

    It’s not about the destination, but the journey. I count myself BLESSED to be on this journey with The Violet Femmes, all of NJRW and this fabulous community of writers. At the meeting last week I joked that if NJRW was to have a tagline, it could be…where everyone gets published. We are so blessed to have the educational opportunities and support from an emotional and writing perspective in this industry.

    Bloom where you are planted…and indeed you are! What a beautiful sea of Violets your collage represents…all the stepping stones of success. Thanks for the pep talk. I do believe I needed it!

    And welcome Diana! So happy to have your added wisdom, experience, support and humor officially here.

    RoseAnn

    Reply
    • I agree with you, RoseAnn. I feel extremely blessed to have joined NJRW and met so many wonderful women. Thanks for the vote of confidence on motivation. We all need to hear it at various times, even though of us published.

      Reply
  3. Yes, a hearty welcome to Diana! We’re so glad she’s here officially.

    I love the “bloom where you are planted” quote. My oldest daughter needs to learn that lesson! When life throws her a curve ball (as it invariably does) she has no clue how to cope. And that’s a skill you have to learn in order to use it throughout life. Otherwise, you’re constantly disappointed.

    Glad you liked the Ashton Kutcher video. I thought that was an amazing speech.

    Nice job on the collage! It’s fun. I hope you share it with the NJRW peeps.

    Reply
    • As an adult, it’s hard to deal when you’re thrown a curve. Sometimes you feel like you’re always reacting instead of planning. It’s even harder for kids. Like your daughter, my son isn’t good when things don’t go his way. It’s difficult to teach, but a necessary life skill. Good luck working with her.

      Ashton’s video clip was really great. Thanks!

      Reply
  4. Thanks for the welcome, Maria! I’m so happy to be invited to hang out with such a fun and talented authors!

    And thanks, also, for this motivational post. I think it is so important for writers to keep looking toward their own goals, instead of looking around and worrying people are beating you. Just because someone got the first contract, that doesn’t mean a bigger, better contract won’t be coming your way in the near future. Everything in publishing is so precarious, and any writer is just one book away from breaking out.

    I also find the camaraderie among writers to be an important motivational tool. No one else quite understands what you’re going through as well as a fellow writer. Attending meetings and conferences also leaves me refreshed and galvanized to take my writing to the next level.

    Thanks again for having me join the blog, ladies. I’m happy to be here!

    Reply
    • Welcome, Diana! I agree that camaraderie is a great motivator. We can relate to the bad news and help boost each other’s spirit. We can appreciate each other’s success. I really enjoy attending conferences and hear how many obstacles people overcame before getting published. It helps me to feel powerful and able to take on the world..okay, maybe just my next manuscript :-)! The Violet Femmes blog was born during the NJRW conference in 2011. We were all so inspired to step up our writing a notch that we decided to form this blog. And it has bloomed over the past year and a half to something I’m very proud of!

      Reply
  5. Welcome, Diana. Thrilled to have you join us! Maria, wow, what a FAB post. Between you and Vernice, seriously, such important reminders. I sooooo needed this… well, actually, I need it every week! I’ll come back and read it again and again! : )

    Reply
  6. Welcome, Diana! So happy you finally took the leap!

    Maria, this is such a great post, and one I certainly needed today. It’s frustrating to hit any kind of brick wall, not only in writing. We all put too much pressure on ourselves to be at the pinnacle of whatever hill we are climbing. It’s much too easy to forget about the journey.

    Like so many things in life, gardens have peaks and valleys. For every time your writing career is in full bloom, it will, of necessity, fade. However, when the bloom is off the rose, and flowers fade, they turn to seed. That seed gets planted elsewhere, in fertile soil. Each successive generation of blooms is heartier, healthier, and more vibrant. So in the future, when it begins to feel like maybe, just maybe, you weren’t where you thought you were in your career, remember that you are also planting seeds that will make the next blooms even bigger and better.

    Onward, and continually, upward!

    Reply
  7. Mia

     /  August 20, 2013

    Nice collage – great post. I hope the great news keeps coming for you ladies. I can’t wait for the releases to start happening.

    Reply
  8. Gosh, Maria, I SO needed to read this post last week, as the advice is terrific! A positive outlook does go a long way. Fear of failure definitely holds you back . . . something my perfectionist personality is trying to overcome! Thanks again.

    Reply
  9. This post is more about the state of America than success in writing. It is unfortunate that a clip on you tube has to be noted to express what every generation has believed before the baby boomer generation(mine). Vernice’s quote is directly opposite of what we try to teach our children in schools. (Or at least what those in charge of education try to shove down our children’s throats.) Obstacles are…fill in the appropriate PC labels…evil conspiratorial attempts to keep you down. If you fail it is due to the MAN! (Usually…the white straight American kind) not a mistake, or unpreparedness or lack of skill on your part.
    A society survives if the children of the society pay no attention to their elders. That quote is from me.
    OK, enough said on that.
    Writing is a loner’s profession. But, without the help of others…you will never succeed.
    Good Luck to a great writer.
    Joe
    Excuse me I need to take my medication.

    Reply

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