Thursday Thirteen - 269 - 13 Things to Remember When Life Gets You Down

by Julia Phillips Smith

Gotten kicked once too often? Have you poured all your passion into your chosen creative direction, only to keep running into 'Thanks, but no thanks' reactions?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 – Are you doing this to impress someone? Impress yourself first, and others will follow.
2 – No matter what, you will never please everyone. You will get negative reviews. I don't ignore those--I pay attention to what didn't work for those readers or that audience. It might not affect my next novel, since it may be my voice that didn't appeal, and I can't change that. Yet there may be valid points in negative reviews that will only make my next book even better.

3 – Sometimes a break from the whole thing is all that's required. Set it aside for a bit.

4 – When you can look at your work from a new perspective, sometimes the thing that wasn't working will magically reveal itself. Yet, how do you gain that new vantage point? Perhaps give it over to a fresh set of eyes, a new critique partner, maybe even finding a new physical location in which to work. If you're a self-pubbed author, a new cover can sometimes be all it takes to breathe new life into a project.

5 – Why did you choose this creative medium? What is it that speaks to you, that draws out your unique  voice? When times get so tough you feel like packing it in, look hard for the joy that brought you here in the first place. It's still there somewhere.

6 - Have you been an island in a sea of sharks? Maybe this is the time to reach out and find that support network. Find a group of like-minded artists and discover that you're not alone in this. Online groups work as well as in-person ones if you're geographically challenged, or prefer typing to talking.

7 – Did you once join a group with other beginners, only to watch so many others fulfill their dream while you're still on the learning curve? This can be especially tough on your drive to keep going. Why bother? Well, I'm certain the creative spark that brought you to the group still burns brightly inside you. It doesn't matter how long it takes. The journey that brings you there is all a part of your voice.

8 – Have you been following all of the advice, making all the right contacts, polishing your craft--yet all the seeds you've sown have fallen on rocky ground? This is where being starry-eyed about your project comes in handy. If you're still in love with your story, someone else will love it, too. Keep sowing.

9 – Does it seem that others in your art form produce so much faster than you could ever hope do to? It may be that they don't spend as much time perfecting, which can be another way of holding onto to something longer than you need to. Practice finishing a project and then moving on to the next one.

10 – Do you hold onto that project because you know rejection is an inevitable part of the creative life? It's scary to throw your hat into the ring, believe me. I've thrown my hat into some big rings, only to get it stomped on. If the elephants are stepping out, it means I'm in the same game they're in.    
11 – Maybe you've spent money on advertising that just didn't pan out. You'll have to cut your losses and move on. What matters is that you regroup and try a new approach. Don't dwell on 'could have/should have'. 
12 – Did you work especially hard on a project, only to have factors beyond your control affect its launch into the world? The thing to remember as you rightfully tear out your hair is that you couldn't have altered the outcome because of the beyond-your-control aspect. This is an especially hard one to swallow, and you do have my sympathies. This is where your support network comes in.
13 – If you've come to this Thursday Thirteen in need of a hand to pick you up and dust you off, here you go: *hoist* / *dust, dust, dust*

And a ((hug)) for good measure. 


Have you pulled yourself out of a creative slump? What do you do when you start hitting walls?

Photo by Helen Tansey

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  1. great list. I've tweeted a link to it from @pesbo

  2. Three and four are so true. Sometimes a little distance and clear eyes can help you see what wasn't working and how to fix it. My T13 post


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