There are no less than a thousand ways you might become frustrated as a writer. Another rejection, a harsh critique, a nasty review. Then there’s writer’s block, deadlines, busted printers and…well, you get the idea.
The good news is, there are ways to beat frustration and get back to what matters–writing!
Have you ever felt dog-piled by life and like your writing was going nowhere? I sure have! In those times it’s easy to throw your hands in the air and walk away.
But once the frustration eventually melts away and you have some perspective, you come back to the keyboard and realize how much precious time has been wasted. This has happened to me over the years more times than I want to admit.
Fortunately, I’ve figured out how to deal with the frustration in a way that allows for time to dial down the emotions and make forward progress. As usual, I learned how to beat frustration the hard way!
How to Beat Frustration
Take a Step Back
There’s a difference between taking a step back and throwing your hands in the air and walking away. A wise writer knows the difference!
When you’re in the middle of a crapstorm and you’re taking each day blow-by-blow, it’s hard to think clearly and work out the real issues. Take a step back from your writing for a set amount of time for the purpose of gaining clarity. Allow yourself time to decompress and let the emotional side of your issues settle down.
When you’re away from your keyboard, engage in other activities and interests, and most of all be with your loved ones who can refill your tank. When it’s time to come back, come back with vigor!
Identify the Cause
Sometimes it’s really easy to identify what’s got you bugged out, but sometimes all you know is that you can’t take One. More. Thing.
If you don’t know exactly what’s causing you to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, it’s time to dig deeper and look at each part of your life. Is your frustration directly related to your writing? Or is it other parts of your life that are messing with your writing? Or is it something else altogether that’s crept in?
Once you pinpoint what’s hammering you, you can more effectively deal with it and move on.
Work On a Different Project
If the project you’re currently obsessing over–er, working on–has you frustrated, try something else! Unless you’re on a tight deadline, it won’t kill you to drop the project and back away from the keyboard.
But what if the project you’re working on is the story of your heart, or a subject that deeply matters? You can still work on it, but approach it from a different direction.
Let’s say you just got slammed with your 100th rejection on the story of your heart. If you know why this story matters so much, you can take that reason/motivation and find another way to put it out there. Instead of writing a novel, try taking that theme and turn it into a blog, or a series of articles for an e-zine, or you can even self publish.
These days there’s no way to keep your message hidden if you really want it out there!
If you’re in a season of frustration and you aren’t sure what to do next, it’s time to call in the big guns! And by “big guns” I mean the people you love and trust.
Sometimes the people who know us well are in a better position to see where we’re going wrong, and they love us enough to convey it gently. (Or not, some of my loved ones can be brutally honest. Apparently there’s a time and place for that too!)
You can also ask a trusted writing partner to help you evaluate what steps you need to take next. The point is to gather an objective opinion to help you get back on track–and back at the keyboard.
Make a Game Plan
Once you’ve stepped back and figured out what the real issues are, it’s time to figure out how to fix them. Again, you don’t have to do this part alone! Talk to the people who have your best interests at heart and get their counsel.
It could be as simple as taking a month off, eliminating some projects or implementing time management strategies that work. Or it could be a more complex solution that involves complete change for you and your family.
The point is to make a plan and DO it. (Actually DOING a plan is half the battle. Talking about your plan is just that–talk.)
Dealing with frustration in a healthy way will not only save you time, it will help you be more productive with your writing. Let’s take the bite out of frustration and get back to the keyboard!