Writer's Survival Guide 17: Stamina
When I hear the word stamina, I think of the movie Rocky and the famous training montage. The image of Rocky (in his super cool sweatsuit!) pumping his fists on the top of the stairs sums it up for me.
Of course, as a writer, I'm not pushing my body to its limits. Instead, I'm pushing my shedule, my time constraints, and my mental capacity to its limits. Sometimes I'm pushing my family's sanity too!
I haven't been shy about what a strange year this has been for me. At the beginning of July, we moved! We're remodeling--yes, it's going well, thank you!--and we're signing our kids up for new schools, new activities, and trying to make new friends. We have a lot of "new" this year, and sometimes that's a great thing. We certainly miss our "old," but so far the new has been fabulous.
With all the new, though, comes insecurity and shedule disruptions. I purposely took the last two weeks off of all writing activities to concentrate on unpacking, painting, and dealing with the moving responsibilities. Let me tell you, taking time off does not feel very good. I've been absent from blogs for the last few months, and I miss everyone. Plus, my annual goals have slipped, and one of my goals will have to be postponed until next year.
There are a lot of things I'm not proud of this year. I've had many, many bouts of emotional weakness over the last six months, but 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) assures us, "'But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" I believe it. As my outer life has changed, my inner life steadies me. That's the power of the Holy Spirit.
It's easy to get lost in our own abilities. When things are going well, we pat ourselves on the back. After all, we worked hard to get where we're at. When things slip away, we wonder what we did wrong--how can we make it right?
But these are illusions too.
We really don't have as much control over everything as we think we do.
I believe writers have control over the following:
- How often we write
- How seriously we take the craft of writing
- How many words we put on the page
- How many books we write in a year
- What types of books/stories we write
- How much marketing/promo we (even as unpublished writers) are willing to do
- If we want to self-publish or try the traditional route
- What tools we decide to use for our writing
We don't have control over these factors:
- How many people will buy our books, regardless of how they're published
- If going the traditional route, when or what agent/editor will sign us
- How well our books are received
- If a genre is hot or cold
- If our personal life twists and disrupts our equilibrium
- How well our marketing/promo efforts succeed
In order to have stamina, we have to continue working on the things in our control and not worry about the others.
I believe writers should set a weekly schedule with a clear goal at the end. We should keep up with the latest publishing news as best we can. We need to be kind to ourselves when life gets messy. We have to prioritize our writing.
Athletes get to the top of their game by sustained effort. They take few days off. They push their bodies to the limit. They have a clear goal feeding their practice.
Writers are not guaranteed a NY Times Bestseller spot if we "work hard." But by treating our writing like an elite athletic event, we gain confidence, we launch our skills higher, and we position ourselves to accept any opportunities that come our way.
With sustained effort, we build stamina. Stamina builds confidence. Confidence produces grit for the days we don't think we can do it.
Stamina keeps us from quitting when life gets rough.
How do you build stamina?
Have a fantastic Monday!
My old charter e-mail addy didn't make the move. If you need to contact me, please use either jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com or jrkemer(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thanks!