Anyone who has read my writing knows that I tend to write very dark, and very gritty. Heck, my tagline is "Seduce Your Dark Side," because yeah, I write on the dark side. In real life, my sense of humor runs a little dark as well, and sometimes, so does my outlook on the world.
And, yes, there have been a lot of dark moments in my writing life. Like most writers, I've had ups and downs. The ups have been amazing, and the downs...well, they've been REALLY down. Even now, I'm going through a "down phase," where I'm doubting myself, doubting my writing, and I can't keep up with the demands for my time. Saying no has never come easy to me, and I'm finding that I have had to start saying no before I'm crushed under the weight of obligations I don't have time for. I'm finding it harder and harder to stay positive.
When it gets this bad, I try to remember the positives that that kept me going in the beginning of my writing career. The best one?
A cold bottle of champagne.
You're looking at me like I'm a weirdo, aren't you? Okay, let me explain.
See, there's a trick I've learned from friends who struggle with weight loss -- they keep a picture on their fridge, whether it's a photo of them at an earlier, lighter weight, or an outfit they want in a smaller size, or a vacation they want to take as a reward. They say they celebrate every little milestone, as well.
So I translated that into a writing-focused visual, and that visual is a bottle of champagne.
I ALWAYS keep a bottle of champagne chilled so that every time I open the fridge door, I see it and know that the next time I reach a milestone or something good happens, I can drink it. That milestone could be finishing the rough draft of a book, or turning in the book, or finishing revisions. Or maybe the celebration is a publication date, or hitting a bestseller list, or getting an outstanding review.
I've learned to celebrate EVERYTHING, no matter how small. Heck, even getting a new, great cover is reason to celebrate. Anything to lift the spirits and remind yourself why you write.
But what if you aren't published? You can still celebrate finishing a manuscript or being brave enough to query an agent or editor.
Or...and this is what I did...I had a "Call Bottle." This was a bottle of champagne I kept chilled and set aside for the day I got "The Call." Each year, if I didn't get The Call, I drank it on New Year's Eve to ring in the new year...and ring in a new beginning. On New Year's Day, I'd go buy another bottle and repeat the ritual, saving that bottle for The Call.
When that day came, it was the most awesome tasting bottle of champagne EVER.
So here's the thing; this writing business comes with some awesome highs, but there are also far too many lows. To keep your head above water, you need to do four things: write, write, write...and celebrate every little benchmark you can. If you don't like champagne, splurge on some special chocolate to keep as your visual inspiration. Or reward yourself with a trip, or a couple of hours at the spa.
Positive reinforcement: What's good for training the dog is good for training your muse. Er...well, you know what I mean!
Do you have any tricks or tips to keep yourself writing, or to motivate yourself? I'd love to hear it!
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Larissa Ione is the New York Times bestselling author of the Demonica series and its spinoff, the Lords of Deliverance, featuring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Her upcoming Lords of Deliverance book, Immortal Rider, releases on November 22nd