In case you’ve lived under a rock these last few years, YOLO means:
You only live once.
There are many devils on your shoulder when you are a writer. The same goes for any creative industry that falls under the daily scrutiny of consumers. Self-publishing is even worse! You’ve got the pressure of producing a quality book on your own that takes an entire publishing team to do traditionally. So many thoughts might travel through your head that, when piled on top of the other, can weigh you down so much that you might not get up again.
There’s one saying that I use (thanks to the Butthole Surfers and of course the Chilli Peppers song I originally heard it on):
Better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do.
Think about it just for a minute. Really think about it. Visualise yourself on your deathbed looking over your life and wondering, Did I do it right? Or, am I going to regret not giving this a shot because people might laugh at me? Might being the operative word.
The only way you can show these naysayers – or your inner nag – who is the boss, is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. Nobody else is responsible for your happiness except you. C’mon, let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. But before we do, I’m going to tell you a little story about how the dynamic duo was formed. I’m talking about me and my pal, Louisa Loder. It’s been well documented around Perth, that we are a great team. In fact, we mesh so well that we even started a publishing company called Creative Cartel Publishing. And last week, we were invited to the KSP Writing Centre to speak about the benefits of finding a writing partner and how our dynamic partnership works. Our business is still developing and evolving, but the main point is that it’s still going and we’re both better writers because of it.
Here’s a run down of the good bits:
- You give each other ideas
- You give each other validation
- You’re motivated to meet deadlines, even if it’s just making a phone call.
- You have someone to critique your work
- You can workshop your ‘sagging middle’
- You’ve got each other’s back
So, it was a dark and stormy night. The last night of my very first NaNoWriMo, and the first time I’d ever ventured out of my home to meet other writers. To say I was nervous was an understatement. You may not believe me if you’ve ever met me (I am rather loud and bubbly, especially after a glass of wine) but I do get shy and introverted too. I know how hard it is to put yourself out there when you know absolutely no one. And even harder when you are unsure of the value of your work.
The problem was that I’d been writing on my own, from the dark corners of my study, for a year and I’d exhausted my support system. They smiled and patted my back, read the stories I forced on them and supported me in my endeavour. But it wasn’t enough. I needed to talk to someone who got me, understood my situation and knew the right things to say to help me along my way. So, even though I was failing NaNo miserably, I braved the cold, dark and stormy night and took myself down to the South Perth Library where the local Write Night was happening to celebrate the end of NaNoWriMo.
I walked into the hall filled with round tables and stopped. Every table was almost at capacity except one. Smack bang in the middle sat a girl on her own, typing madly away on her laptop. So what did I do? I thought one person is easier to introduce myself to than a table and walked right up to her. Even though the rest of the table was empty, I sat down next to her. ‘Cos that’s how I roll. Before you knew it, I was offering to share my dark chocolate covered coffee beans and we were chatting about everything and discovered that we were very similar. We liked to write in the same genre, we both worked in Marketing, we both had husbands who worked away and had children.
By the end of the night I knew that there was just one more step I needed to take to fully cross that friendship bridge – Facebook. Even though there was a scaredy cat voice whispering in my ear that ‘who makes friends at your age?’ I answered back with an ‘I’m not that old, Jeez’ and told that voice to go shove it.
Everything after that is history. I now have a fantastic friend who I regularly Skype for our own ‘Tuesday Night Writes’, where we workshop, word war and sometimes just chat about stuff to give ourselves that little motivational boost. I have someone who ‘get’s’ where I’m at and who can come to writer events with me.
And how many cliché’s did I use in this post? Loads. But I don’t care. Because hopefully I’ve just given you the boost to put yourself out there. And I’ll bet, you’ll find others just like you trying to do the same thing. If you need a place to start, try joining a writers organisation. I’m on the committee for the Romance Writers of Australia and can honestly say they’ve been very welcoming and supportive community. But there’s plenty of others out there. Google it.
And remember, next time you’re about to be a scaredy writer cat, change it up. Say YOLO to yourself and go make lemonade.