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The Emotional Roller Coaster that is Writing

This is something I’ve talked about before, but I feel it bears repeating. Being an author is an emotional roller coaster ride. It is filled with highs and lows, and both of them can be extreme. But how do you cope when you’re in one of these moments?

Every author has their moment of being on top of the world. Whether it’s getting their book accepted by a publisher, reaching a certain amount of sales, or perhaps even getting a movie deal, something will happen at some time to make the author feel invincible. And this high can last for a long time—days, months, years, even. When things are going well, it’s easy to be inspired and motivated. I know that readers are waiting for my work, so I go out of my way to get it to them.

When things aren’t going so well, when it’s a low period, it’s harder to find that motivation and inspiration. This low can come in many forms: rejections, a bad review, sales not going as well as planned, whatever. If you’re like me, it just might be a cycle of your writing. Some days I’m highly motivated, others I’m not. On those other days, I might feel guilty about not getting any writing done, which pushes me into a low.

Getting through these times is a bit trickier. There doesn’t seem to be anything out there that inspires or motivates me. In fact, most things just end up pissing me off and making me wonder why I’m writing at all. So how do I push through?

I’m going to be honest: I don’t always push through. Recently, I’ve been in a low cycle. I’ve sat down numerous times to work on a story, and nothing comes. I can’t put words on the paper. So I don’t. I do something else. I pick up a book or watch TV or hang out with my kids. Sure, I feel bad about not writing, which then upsets me and I think that I’ll never write another book in my life and I’ll just fade into obscurity but what does it matter because no one reads my books anyway...and on and on.

But if nothing’s there to write, why force it? And I think that’s the important thing to remember. Writing for me is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be an escape. I’ve made peace with the fact long ago that I was never going to get rich off my stories. I’ve known for a while that I won’t find an agent and get published by a big house—and I’m fine with that. I’ve re-evaluated what it means to me to be successful.

However, when writing stops being fun, that’s when I need to take a step back. Highs and lows will happen no matter what. I’m an author, I’m an emotional and passionate person, and those emotional swings are exhausting. When I get tired, I need to take time to re-energize and recoup.

It’s okay to take a break from writing. It’s okay to be sad during the low times. But always keep in mind that they won’t last forever—just like the high times won’t. And I’m not going to say to keep the high times in mind, to remember how fantastic they sure, because, yes, they were wonderful and fantastic and amazing, but if you’re like me, when they aren’t there, it can be even more depressing. If you’re like me, you might think they are never coming back. I absolutely appreciate the high times and I hope to have more in the future, but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

Through it all, however, I am always grateful the for friends, readers, and fans that I have. Without you, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.

In the end, I’m the one who has to decide how to move forward. I’m the one who decides how deeply the highs and lows will affect me. The most important thing to remember is that I have to do what is best for me and what makes me the happiest.

How do you make it through the highs and lows?