Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The What If Writer

What if people hate my blog.
What if no one likes me.
What if no on shows up to my author signing.
What if someone hates chocolate.
What if I never sell my book.
What if they tell me not to quit my day job.
What if they like me too much.
What if they reject me too many times.
What if I only sell 10 copies.
What if I sell a gazillion copies.
What if the editor doesn't like the edits I made.
What if they liked my book and then hated it.
What if I get a one star review.
What if I'm the next JK Rowling.

There are several what if's in life. Several in a writers life especially. However the emotion remains the same. The stress creeps up on you and your own mind becomes your worst enemy. At the end of the day can you do anything to change someone's mind? No (and don't go thinking you can give them a twinkie and make it better), so if you can't fix it, don't worry about it. Regardless if you're already successful or trying to make in the big bad writing world there will always be what's ifs. It's all in how you handle them.

Don't be a victim of the what ifs.

75 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Getting in the what ifs can be paralyzing. Better to stay far, far away! Great post!

Talli 'What If' Roland said...

HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO GET INSIDE MY HEAD?

Scarrrry. :)

Becky Taylor said...

Am currently drowning in the What ifs. Must find life preserver that does not contain 85 million calories.

Lo said...

Yep, you must be psychic because you are in my head too :-) ...

I love how you've touched both sides of the 'what if' beast. I think it can b almost more paralyzing to think about the good 'what ifs' (i.e. what if I sell a gazillion copies) than the bad what ifs (i.e. rejection). Thanks for the food for thought, and for stopping by my blog yesterday :-) ... I need to shake off the what ifs and start being more active in the blogosphere again!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Ugh, this is such a good topic for me right now. Actually, for both of us! I think the act of waiting can almost take you beyond the threshold of certifiably crazy LOL! You're right, let's not be tied to our own self consciousness. Let's just BE:)

Diane said...

So true and so possible to fall into these traps. Good reminder! :O)

Talei said...

Fantastic post! And I love the last line, 'What if you are the next JK Rowling?' - That's why you just have to keep writing and querying!!

Happy Wednesday! ;-)

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

What if you're right?
(Off to dispel the WIs)

Diana Mieczan said...

So true...there is no point in worrying about something if you know you cant change it. Great reminder, sweetie. Kisses

Ps: I’m hosting a stunning Ruche GIVEAWAY later today! Hope you’ll join in :)

Anne Gallagher said...

What if's are all around us every day, and I think you summed it up perfectly. It's what you do with it.

And what if you ARE the next J.K.?
Then what are you gonna do?

Indigo said...

One of the things I tell myself (especially writing borderline horror), is that you can't please everyone. There will be someone out there that absolutely abhors your writing.

'What ifs' definitely play head games with us all. If we listened to that small annoying voice, we might never write at all. (Hugs)Indigo

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I can what it myself all day long...and I've tried. Actually, it's a fairly easy success to achieve, however, it's not very productive. In the list you gave the only What If that should be taken in for analysis is that one about someone hating chocolate. That's just absurd! ;)
I've missed you so much ladybug, I'm hoping my stay is longer this go and I'm excited to be back. Love you so much!!! HUGS <3

Christine Fonseca said...

OMGoodness! I so needed this. I am a thinker - which means I am prone to what-ifs and shoulds. Both...paralyzing at times. Great post.

Angela Felsted said...

Great advice. But do be sure to give your characters lots of what ifs, peaceful, happy people made boring protagonists.

Katie Mills said...

the 'what ifs' are killer in life in general but yeah, definitely hard on writers. GP!

Jillian said...

Good advice. Hope I can live up to it - AND yeah, I'm an example of surviving a 2 star review on my first book- the 4 star one made it more palatable! LOL! AND as Rick Nelson said in the song GARDEN PARTY, "you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself"

Jess said...

Thanks for the reminder :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Ah, those pesky What Ifs.
I assure you that many of us love your blog and you, so you can scratch off those first two from your list. ;)

Bish Denham said...

I gave up what iffing a long time ago. Life is too short to "worry" over things I have little or no control over. I take things as they come to me or as I go to them. It's all in how I choose to react.

Carrie said...

This is a great post. I totally agree that we writers can't worry about the what ifs. I always just try to enjoy the part of the writing journey I'm on and not worry about what might be down the road

Clarissa Draper said...

Great post! I think all writers suffer from the what ifs.

Amie B said...

i stopped the what if's and went straight for the WTF's!

Jamie Burch said...

Love this! Thank you...:)

Summer Ross said...

Jen- great post-I hear some of these in my own head sometimes. Have a flitterific day!

Teenage Bride said...

What if we all just realized our strengths our talent and our full potential!! Wouldn't the be great!

have a great day Jen.

fabulous post as always.

Elena Solodow said...

What if I post this comment and it gets LOST? What if you think I didn't stop by! What if...oh, never mind. Calming down now.

Carolyn V said...

So true. What if's suck.

melissa said...

Nice post! There are so many what if's in life, it doesn't make sense to dwell on them. Stop wondering and start making things happen. :-)

T.D. McFrost said...

It's better to have tried, than not try at all.

Most people not only succumb to the thought of what could be, they often make it an idol - a false god, so to speak. When you have nothing in your life of value to hold onto, or you have not fulfilled your dreams, the what ifs can be entirely tempting, especially if there might be a way to attain it.

Though it's not bad to wonder, or dream, it can be ruinous if that's all you ever do. You have to remember to live and love, and that is often harder to achieve.

p.s I love a woman in pink. You look so hot. :D

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Yay! Down on "What ifs"! Focus on "What is" and "What can be next."

Sarah said...

I feel like this daily. But you can't stop these thoughts, you just have to keep writing and keep writing. That's the only advice I can give.

Meredith said...

Ugh, I hate the what ifs. They can be so annoying. Also, I love that what if someone hates chocolate is one of your stresses. :) The horror!

Catherine Denton said...

Ah, I see you've been reading my mind again... ;)

Thanks for the reminder to stop the "What If's".

T C Mckee said...

Wait. There might be people out there that don't like chocolate? How am I supposed to live in such a world? All the other what if fears, I've said, and handled with the help of chocolate. Okay okay, and wine. No judging.

Chris Phillips said...

you're insane. no one hates chocolate milk

Nicole Zoltack said...

The land of what if is a sad and lonely place. And if it has no chocolate?! The horrors!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

ALL SO TRUE!!! *sigh* I'm sorry, and I'll try to do better. :-)

Ashley Stone said...

so true! Love that!

Tere Kirkland said...

Luckily, my "what ifs" are mostly related to my writing. My friends and family can tell when I'm getting down on my writing, and they usually help me stop.

Great post!

Laura Marcella said...

Eeeek, the what ifs! They're nasty because they don't mean anything. They just drive you crazy!

Misha said...

So true. What ifs can prevent me from living now.

:-)

KarenG said...

"Don't be a victim of the what ifs" Great stuff!! So much truth here. Love this post.

Michelle Merrill said...

Well said. It reminds me of the quote by someone awesome that I can't remember the name right now. "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it." I think maybe it was Albright? Man, I probably even spelled that wrong. Anyway, the only way to learn and grow is to experience and accept. Live and learn. Thanks for the reminder, though. I oftentimes get stuck in the what if's! And the only thing it does is slow me down. Not fun :)

Jennifer Hillier said...

Great advice. I often paralyze myself with those what ifs. What ifs are not healthy... unless you're writing about them in a story, in which case they're sort of necessary. But for real life, it's best to keep those what ifs to a minimum.

Ellie said...

Awesome advice, Jen.

Thank you for popping by my blog today. I will posting a follow up to the comment question tomorrow!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You sound like me before my book came out last fall!

Len Lambert said...

Too true! Hope you are having a nice Wednesday, Jen! I love your pink hair by the way :)

Okie said...

Great post.

I have what-ifs on my mind from time to time...but usually I just write because I need to write...I MUST write. Beyond that, who knows what will happen. :)

Carla said...

My favorite line: "It's all in how you handle them."

I think about this a lot and love how you tackled it.

Carla @ carla-jansen.blogspot.com

E. Elle said...

Thank you for the inspirational nudge, Jen. It's been a really bad week for me, bombarded with what-ifs and what nots. I will try to handle it more effectively. :)

Holly Ruggiero said...

Great advice, but this one scared me "What if someone hates chocolate."

Tucker said...

seriously! those what ifs really getcha sometimes.

Chippy said...

I've just had an attack of the what if's. 'What if it gets rejected?'
My answer was 'Well if you don't press send you will never know!'

I pressed send... now the waiting begins.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I don't think we ever get over the "what ifs." I certainly hear them whispering in my ear every single day. The trick is to ignore them, laugh at them, and maybe hang onto a little talisman that whispers a counter-tune of "go team, go team, go team ..."

A little weird, I know. But my characters are my team.

Sondrae Bennett said...

It's hard not to play the what if game but just try and keep perspective. And never underestimate a good twinkie. Sometimes the persons blood sugar is just low :)

Jennie Bailey said...

My entire life is psychotic 'what ifs' - hence my panic attacks and panic disorder. The answer to 'what if' is supposed to be 'so what!' That worked for me for the longest time. Lately, not so much. Being alone in your head is never a good thing. Especially with our writers imaginations! Love you, girl. Don't forget how many people do!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL you sound like my 8 yo. His two favorite phrases are: "You know what?" and "What if . . . ?"

Hmmm. He seems to have a thing for the word 'what'.

I have learned to tune out the "What if" questions because of this. ;)

Krispy said...

This is totally the reminder I needed today. I've been stressing about things I can't change, and I think I need to just get over it and move on.

Thanks!

Melissa said...

This is a fabulous post Jen!!! Excellent job! Let's tell those what if's to get lost!

B.E.T. said...

Amen to that! Practical here and now is much more rewarding, after all. It helps keep your ego in check, as in no getting too inflated or deflated. Great post. :)

Heather said...

Thanks for this. I needed it today. I've got a case of the what if's this week!

Kelly H-Y said...

Fantastic post (and perfect timing, I must admit!)!

Jemi Fraser said...

Very nice post! I am working on my ability to deal with the what ifs - I'll keep trying :)

Donea Lee said...

I'm a sad little what-iffer, i'm afraid. (that sounds dirty or something, right?) I'm hoping i'm your last what if... :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Your list sounds like the list of my what if's that run through my head every 15 minutes. Can any of us stop the what if's? I bet even JK Rowling has what if's!

You look awesome with pink hair, by the way.

Monica B.W. said...

Great post!
But what if you don't like my comment?

Emy Shin said...

Lovely post.

I'm one of those writers who mire in what-ifs. I'm trying to worry only about what I can control.

Eva said...

WHAT IF????

That haunts me. And I'm working on it :)

Liz Fichera said...

Great advice, Jen! I know it's trite, but you never know what can happen till you try.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jen .. what if? - get on with it and find out .. we learn more from our mistakes & will benefit hugely from the success. So .. just do - cheers have a good week .. Hilary

Amie Kaufman said...

Don't be ridiculous, woman, nobody hates chocolate! I only wish they did, then there would be more for the rest of us ;)

Angela Carlie said...

Agreed. These 'what ifs' way heavy on our minds but shouldn't stop us from finding out. Great post:)

Lisa Gail Green said...

I just caught this post and I LOVE it so much I had to comment. Life is made of what ifs, so we have to appreciate every step of the way.

lynnrush said...

Love this. Needed to see this today.
Thank you!

Colene Murphy said...

That's really awesome advice. I have been stuck on what if I'm actually a horrible novel writer and no one is telling me and then I query and agent's just sit behind there screens and laugh and laugh and laugh. Yeah, okay my what if is reeeally long and runs through my head all day every day. BUT You're so right. Can't stress about it. What good is it doing to worry? Right? And banana twinkies kinda help...and mini cupcakes...and donuts...