Cultivate Writing Bliss
Posted On April 26, 2020
When was the last time you felt excited like the woman in the photo?
If you’re like many of the people I see posting about being stuck in a sort of Groundhog Day, it’s probably been a while. You may have even forgotten what this feels like. A moment of bliss, a giddiness of endless possibilities, when you’re closer to having your dreams come true than ever before.
I recently had this feeling. I think I even put my hands up to my face in the exact manner. It was a very powerful feeling like the stars were aligned. And it’s something that I plan to repeat, and you can too.
Now, I don’t want to mislead anyone. This isn’t one of those happy feelgood posts that only people who meditate will understand. This is about working towards making your dreams come true. The keyword here is work. You have to put in the effort, but the reward is worth it.
Cultivate Bliss by Doing the Work
First off, everyone has to understand the myth that dreams come true overnight is simply untrue. Most first time novelists that make it big aren’t newbie writers. They’ve written countless stories that never see the light of day. Good writers put in the work. This is true for most success stories. Think about athletes. Do you think they became good at their sport by accident? No, they worked hard for it.
In order to cultivate bliss, you have to be willing to do the work. But more importantly, you have to recognize the work you’re doing, no matter how small.
Cultivate Bliss by Recognizing your Efforts
Recently, I weeded my front flowerbed. I’m not into gardening, so this was a chore I dreaded and had put off for a couple of weeks, but I made myself get out there and pull weeds. It ended up taking about an hour. After I was done, I stood back and admired how much nicer my flowerbed looked.
As writers, it’s hard to give ourselves credit for small achievements. I think it’s part of the writer’s myth. That it’s not supposed to be hard. That it should be fun. Sometimes, we’re lucky for those things to happen, but often it’s not the writing that’s fun, it’s the having written. But you have to get to the having written part.
Acknowledge, and let yourself be happy for every bit of writing that you do. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph is getting you closer to publication.
Cultivate Bliss by Finishing
Becoming a published writer is not possible if you do not finish your story. Read that sentence again and again and again until it sinks in. You have to finish. No publisher will publish something that isn’t done.
When I was in high school, I used to start stories all the time and hardly ever finished any. That was when writing was fun. I’d write until my burst of creativity was gone and then be done with it. As a professional (a professional is anyone who takes the craft seriously, published or not) I know that’s when you have to go to work. At this point, it’s a job. Sit down and do the work and finish.
It’s such a good feeling to finish a story, to write the last word, even though you know you still have to edit. But getting to that point isn’t easy. Be proud to have finished. But don’t stop there. Edit and polish and make it shiny.
Cultivate Bliss by Submitting
This is where the magic happens.
In January, I worked with former literary agent and author Nathan Bransford to edit a short story. I wrote about it in my post dealing with feedback. Well, I finally finished my edits, which included a round after Nathan’s observations and a round after my friend’s reading.
I followed the steps above, I put in the work, I appreciated my efforts along the way, I finished and polished, and finally submitted.
Let me tell you, it takes guts to submit. Because even though I say it’s finished, I know I could edit it for a few more years. But at a point we have to let it go. So this week, I submitted it to four different publications. After the first submission, I did like the woman in the photo. I put my hands to my face, giddy that I’d done it. I really finished and submitted it somewhere.
In that moment, I had possibilities that I didn’t have before. I imagine it like nursing a bird with a broken wing back to health. When it’s time, you open the window and let the bird go, encouraging it. Fly bird, fly.
That’s what I’m saying to my story. Fly story, fly.
Of course, I have doubts. It’s a long shot to get published. And I remind myself, even if it’s rejected, it doesn’t mean the story is necessarily bad. The publications I sent to get hundreds of submissions for a very limited space. But for now, I’m not thinking about that. I’m concentrating on the possibility of being accepted. And happy to have gotten this far.