A funny thing happens when you get a bunch of enthusiastic, regularly stressed-out, mildly neurotic, but ever-hopeful writers together: They realize they’re normal. Normal for writers anyway.
Writing, as I’m sure you know, can be very isolating. You have your CPs, WCs, perhaps an agent or even an editor, but they aren’t physically with you every day. Most days it’s just you and the ole laptop or desktop, clicking away, playing with your imaginary friends. Maybe you’re on deadline and freaking out about not finishing in time. You’re querying and freaking out about the replies and rejections. Perhaps you’re polishing up your manuscript and you’ll soon be on submission, so you’re freaking out about the future OR you’re on submission, and freaking out about who will have interest and who won’t. You might have a new release and you’re waiting to see how your book sells and OMG!
Note all the freak outs that come along with being an author? And here’s the really fun part: From what I’ve learned by chatting with established authors, both midlist and best sellers, the freaking out never goes away. Waiting and anxiety, fretting and doubting, but digging deep to find your motivation and patience – these are all parts of the business. How do we stand it? How can we possibly survive this much wackadoo?
Simple. We surround ourselves with other writers who are freaking out. 😀 But instead of a snowball effect of freakage, it somehow makes us calm the hell down. Weird, huh?
We email, text and call each other to celebrate the wins, no matter how small, because a fellow writer knows every win is a big deal. We do the same when we stumble and fall, because our writer peeps will listen, sympathize and then pep talk us back up to functional capacity. We communicate and keep each other grounded, focused and motivated. However, the best, most therapeutic of all author activities is the in-person Writer Get Together.
Preferably for a few days, outside of any conference or actual writer work, we gather with other writer friends and simply exist in the same physical space. We like to sit in our comfy clothes, with no make-up on, chug enough coffee to stun a donkey, and talk about everything. No really. EVERYTHING. The craft of writing, the business of publishing, how the heck royalties work, social media, what to wear at conference, what conferences to attend, how to style our hair, gray hairs, our kids’ afterschool activities, food and how much we love it, chair upholstery, mermaids, camp songs, Legos, hormones, mulch and whether or not Tony Stark has a house on Lake Norman. (He totally does, btw.)
At some point we gussy up and go out for food and beverage, but mostly it’s a lot of sitting around (or floating if in the pool) and commiserating.
Topics bounce around like ping pong balls, conversation drifts naturally in and out of “real life” and writer life, and somewhere around that 24th hour mark everyone realizes, Holy shit I needed this quality writer time like oxygen!
Each writer recognizes that they are normal. Everyone else is freaking out about things too, everyone else has doubts, strengths and weaknesses, and everyone hopes they’re a few pounds lighter by the next conference. We laugh about what we’ve been through, what we’re going through right now and while we may leave exhausted from all the socializing, we’re also a lot stronger and steadier than we were a few days before.
THIS is why you need to get together with your writer friends. I mean it! Plan a get together right now. Try for a weekend getaway. If you can’t swing an entire weekend, shoot for one overnight stay or a day trip get together, somewhere you can talk. At minimum, take a long lunch with some other writers and nurture your writer soul while nomming on good food.
Do this and I promise you will be able to face the insanity of writing with a more zen outlook. What else do you do to keep the crazy at bay? How does quality writer time help you?