I consider self-sabotage one of the biggest issues facing any aspiring novelist, especially during National Novel Writing Month, when so many others are posting online their daily word count triumphs–
While others are falling short, or perhaps haven't had the time to write at all that day.
Talk about discouraging.
Writing a novel is a Herculean endeavor. Then there are the the additional hurdles of querying agents in the hope that they, too, will love it enough to want to represent you to editors at the various publishing houses.
Publishing is a high-stakes gamble. Considering the fact that 57,000+ adult fiction books were estimated to be published in 2010, you've got every right to wonder if your book will be one of the chosen ones for 2013. (Sorry to break the news to you, but the publishing house catalogs for 2012 are already closed out.)
My best advice to you: Don't freak out.
Instead, be cool.
Why? Because like wolves agents and editors can smell fear.
So, what's the best way to keep your eye on the prize that is worth all your sweat equity?
Simple. Pretend you're George Clooney.
When you consider that (despite his dreaminess) he's not much different from you or me.
Remember: before all his “Best Actor” Oscar nods, this was a guy who once starred in Return of the Killer Tomatoes.
Not to mention one of the worst Batman movies ever.
So, how did a guy who got his start on the ridiculously bad TV show Facts of Life catapult himself into the Hollywood firmament as a celebrated producer/director/actor?
He's doing what I'm suggesting to you now: He thought like a winner.
Believe me, every writer wonders if their next book will be their last. Because besides being a craft and a business, fiction writing is also an art, which is very subjective to buyers (initially, an editor). Many great books are turned down by editors before they find a home, and perhaps become a success with readers.
If you're going to write for a living, you'll have to develop a thick skin. Here's how to make it as handsomely rugged as George Clooney's:
Joan Cusack put it best in Working Girl: “Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna. Never will.” Don't try to be (or write) like someone else. You have great ideas for your books, and you have a unique voice with which to render them. Play to those strengths.
By the time Clooney starred in the movie Out of Sight, he'd made the decision that he was beyond working just to work. He wanted to work on projects he believed in. Writing a novel is a long-term commitment. If you don't enjoy the project or the process, quit it. Start something new. Something you can live with, for a very long time.
Clooney works with actors and directors who are just as easygoing and committed to the project as him. That keeps things stress-free.
Joie de vie is French for “the joy of life.” We are our happiest when we love our work, and our lives. You should feel blessed that you have the talent and the drive to write that book within you. If you believe in yourself, trust me, it will come across in your writing.
Everytime we see a picture of Clooney, or read an interview, it's obvious he's having fun. We think to ourselves, “Why can't our lives be like that?” Guess what? They can. It starts with you. If your life is a ball, everyone wants to be at the party…
The photo above is of — whom else? — George Clooney. starring with Brad Pitt in Oceans Eleven.
Question of the day: Which is your least Clooney-esque feature? Share it, below, and maybe you'll see why it's holding you back.
Happy National Novel Writing Month,