September 18, 2012

On Control & On Publishing

In the last few days, I've been plagued with a few Doubt Monsters.

Nasty things, they are!

They've rooted deep inside my ear, whispering their doubtful words and nibbling at my confidence. And no matter how hard I swat at them, they refuse to leave.

Like I said. Nasty things. They kind of make me feel like this:

Donuts fix everything!

But yeah. Doubt Monsters. I haz them. Granted, I think doubting yourself is par for the course for most writers. We all have our moments of extreme highs (I shall conquer the world with this book!) and devastating lows (Pass the ice cream. No, I don't need a spoon.). Publishing is a hard business, a really hard business. And it's made even harder because we don't have a whole lot of control over the process. For instance:

We Can't Control...
1. An agent offering you representation.
2. An editor buying your book.
3. Getting your book into B&N.
4. Your agent quitting the business/Your editor moving to another house.
5. Selling your next manuscript.

When I think about all of the things that are out of my hands, it feels a bit overwhelming! And a little frightening, really. Because so much of this dream is contingent on what other people think about my book. There are so many gates to pass--landing an agent, finding an editor who loves the book, getting through acquisitions--before you get to that coveted "YES!"

*Deep breaths, Caroline* 

But I've had a small epiphany on how to defeat the Doubt Monsters. Of course, I don't think I can banish them completely because they're such tenacious buggers but I believe I've found a way to control them. At least for a little while. My not-so-secret formula? Focus on the things that I can control. For instance:

We Can Control...
1. Writing a new book.
2. Revising the hell out of that book.
3. Finding savvy beta readers to whip that book into shape.
4. Taking a break from the Internets when I feel the Doubts clawing at me. ('Cause Twitter and Facebook and Publishers Marketplace can trigger those Doubts really quickly.)
5. Cultivating a happy life outside of writing to give me perspective and, well, happiness!

So that's my plan for now. Baby steps! I probably can't defeat the Doubt Monsters outright; I imagine they'll rear their ugly heads every now and then. But I figure I have to stop fretting about all of the many, many things that lie outside of my control. Instead, I'll focus on the stuff that I can control, which is writing and more writing and, oh yeah, MOAR writing.

Come to think of it, maybe fretting ain't so bad....


Now go forth and write! And shoo those Doubt Monsters away!


  1. So true. My second MS just went out on submission this week and I feel so helpless all the time. So then I get all into things that for a few seconds feel productive, like researching the heck out of all the editors my agent sent it to, etc., which definitely doesn't help. :) Focusing on the controllable things sounds like a much better plan.

    1. Kelly!

      My fingers are tightly crossed for you! That is so exciting and awesome!

      I think the first few weeks on submission are such a roller coaster because you're so many emotions at once: excited, nervous, terrified, then excited all over again. Ahh!

      Definitely email me if you want to chat or commiserate! And I'm so excited about your book and I'd love to hear all about it!

  2. I can see how this gets hard when you have an agent and suddenly things are happening around you that you have no control over. Since I haven't started querying yet, everything is up to me - finishing my draft, putting the work in, querying, etc. But of course the agent's reaction is out of my control. I'm sure I'll struggle with this as well when the time comes! In the meantime, I'll keep writing. :)

  3. Doubt monsters, so much lamer than donut monsters (which is what I originally thought this post said, lol).

    This is a great plan of attack though that applies to all of life, not just writing! It's so easy to get caught up in things you ultimately can't control. I do it all the time! But I should really focus on the things that I can control!

  4. Breathe! And go write me a new book :) I want to read it!!