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How to Overcome Writing Setbacks and Move Forward
by Jennifer Brown Banks

It was a wintry Wednesday morning, with below 0 temperatures, and I felt blessed to work from my home office and enjoy some of the perks of the writers' life.

At 6:29 a.m., poised to start my day, I plopped my bottom in my office chair with the hopes of increasing my bottom line. My goal was to write two how-tos for writers' zines, a feature article for a singles' publication, and to hit Craigslist to surf for more job leads.

But "Murphy's Law" had imposed a different agenda for my day. By 7:30 a.m. the only thing I was working on was a migraine and the desire to crawl back under the covers and check out for the day. My computer was acting as if it had been possessed. I kept getting "error reading" messages, it would shut down in the midst of my work, and my mouse was dancing like it was in The Nutcracker Suite.

No doubt as a writer, you've had one of these days from hell that seem destined to spoil your productivity and your groovy mood. Don't let it. Whether it's writer's block, an uncooperative computer, a biting rejection letter, or self-doubt, here's how to overcome some common work related hazards and stay in the game.

  1. Just like Sarah Palin, don’t retreat, reload! Instead of going back to bed and watching Green Acres and sitcoms all day, I simply regrouped. I decided that if my computer wouldn't cooperate, I’d simply take down my ideas with pen and paper. It worked for us in B.C. (before computer) days. In times of trouble always have a plan B.

  2. Keep your sense of humor. It's true that laughter is the best medicine. And if you keep your wits about you, it will lower your blood pressure and keep you focused on the big picture. After all, things could be worse. You could be on a 9 to 5 gig having a bad day with a bad boss to boot!

  3. Shift gears. About a year ago, I was blessed to discover the joys of gift basket making. I revert to this when I need to recharge my creative battery. Oftentimes, creative artists will find that they are gifted in other areas. Some draw cartoons, others paint, some garden, etc. To ensure some "net profit" for your day, work on anything that relaxes you and allows you to enjoy some degree of productivity. Some is better than none.

  4. Refuse to let stress become a distraction. Keep your eye on the prize. Take a few deep breaths, spew a few positive affirmations, adjust your thoughts and then get back to the task at hand. Learn to go with the flow.

  5. Revisit your success stories. Sometimes we need to be reminded of our awesome efforts and the lives that we touch through the written word. When you’re in a funk, read those emails from fans, or the words of encouragement from an editor. Google your name, or pull out that check stub from a recently paid piece. Bask in the glow and recognize that there will be good days and bad in this business. The key is to commit and keep moving forward.

By following these five tips you’ll enjoy less burnout and greater financial and spiritual rewards in 2010. And you’ll find that even "days from hell" can be made heavenly with some ingenuity and the right perspective.

© Copyright 2010, Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks is the former senior editor of Mahogany Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Business Management and blogs at Penandprosper.blogspot.com

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