Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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September 26, 2016

7 Ways to Bring Elevated Energy to Your Support Team

Kathryn Craftby Kathryn Craft

Turning Whine Into Gold

When writers seeking publication believe we are all in search of the same magic juju—you know, the one that has “New York Times bestseller” on the label—we create a culture of desperation like that of brides grappling at a wedding gown sale. My last post, “What Do You Bring to Your Support Team,” suggests that we instead think about what we can contribute to our important publishing relationships, whether with family members, agents and editors, or designers and publicists. This follow-up, with thanks to commenter Tom Pope who suggested it, will explore how we can learn to best contribute. Since this is a huge topic, it will be my focus over the next several months of my Turning Whine Into Gold posts. Each subtopic deserves our consideration if we care to be a valued member of the publication team.

The control dramas we explored last month, which we defer to when we feel the need to syphon precious energy from one of our support partners, suggests that our most important team contribution is an ideal state of elevated energy. Here are seven ways to maintain that.

1. Embrace the science. You’ve heard it a million times and will hear it again from this holder of a BS in biology and an MA in health education: eat healthy, stay hydrated, sleep well, exercise more. We writers love our coffee and wine memes but a keen creative mind cannot live on stimulants and depressants alone. We need nutrients flowing through our brains because our thoughts, quite literally, need a breath of fresh air. And those endorphins that provide a sense of wellbeing aren’t too shabby, either. Being hung over may add to your tragic persona on social media, but behind closed doors, it will not make you a reliable and valued team member. Strive for maximal health for a longer, better career.

2. Shore up your faith. Knowing who you are and what you believe bestows a quiet confidence that infuses your everyday interactions. I’ve quoted my prolific author friend Katherine Ramsland here before and I’ll do it again today: “It doesn’t matter what you believe, it matters that you believe.” Even if you do not believe in a higher power, you must have faith in your team’s combined talents if you hope to empower them to succeed. After all, “We can do this!” is more powerful than shaming someone with the many ways they’ve fallen short. The publishing industry is stormy on a good day, and the more deeply rooted your faith is, the more turmoil you can handle—and faith can turn turmoil into strength, wisdom, and growth. Faith is contagious. Your team will benefit from it.

3. Make peace with your choices. You will do your team no good if you can’t get beyond what’s already in your rear view. Let go of what those other agents and editors said, and the opinions of those one-star reviewers, because continuing to vilify them will only drain you. Lessons learned can fuel future course correction, but give this team your very best in this moment. Embrace these slogans: “All is subjective” and “Ever forward.”

4. Don’t forget to live life. Writing is a lone endeavor. But if the extent to which we seek seclusion endangers our most supportive relationships, doubt and its accompanying anxiety will trigger your control drama, making you a taker, not a giver. Career growth requires risk, so practice it by leaving your comfort zone on a regular basis. Out among others in the real world, your problems might not seem as all-consuming as you thought. Bring this refreshed attitude to your team and benefit from the energy that doing so creates.

5. Allow emotional reaction to pass before placing that call. The critical and competitive nature of this field takes its toll, to be sure. I need not enumerate the ways. We can protect our team from the rise and fall of our inner turmoil by striving for a more sensitive awareness of when we are starting to feel low. By identifying our control drama, we can note more quickly when it kicks in, and take immediate measures to bolster our energy. Then, when you meet with the members of your team, you’ll be brainstorming solutions instead of expecting them to salve your wounds.

6. Give back. There have been times when my confidence was so rattled that I felt I had no clue what I was doing. Sound familiar? That’s what happens when you reach outside your comfort zone. At such times, I can remind myself how far I’ve come by reaching out to help writers climbing the ladder behind me. And we can carry the resulting sense of good will right back to our team.

7. Remember you are in it for love. Fact: publishing does not guarantee a living wage for hours invested. Neither is getting published a right—it is, and always has been, a privilege. Somehow, once we get published, we forget this, and the complaining begins. No one is putting a gun to our heads here. If you can no longer access your love of what you do, your energy level will drain away and you’ll have nothing to offer your team. Take a workshop, phone a friend, drum up a bigger support crew—do whatever it takes to reconnect to the love that brought you to this place. Because there is one thing I know for sure: the members of your support team are human, and humans always respond to love.

Striving to maintain a high level of energy is key to motivating your team. When you bring your best, others tend to respond in kind. Maybe the magic juju isn’t something we find and grapple for after all, but something we can find and enhance within us. Rather than a culture of desperation, this will allow a culture of abundance with room for us all.

Bonus: every one of these energy-boosting strategies is good for your writing as well.

Does the problem of low energy resonate with you? What about your writing drains you, and what other ways have you found to shore yourself up?

About Kathryn

art-of-falling1.jpgKathryn Craft is the award-winning author of two novels from Sourcebooks:10685420_966056250089360_8232949837407332697_n.jpg The Art of Falling, and The Far End of Happy. Her chapter “A Drop of Imitation: Learn from the Masters” will appear in the forthcoming guide from Writers Digest Books, Author in Progress, available now for pre-order.

Her work as a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft, follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she leads workshops and speaks often about writing.

Twitter: @kcraftwriter
FB: KathrynCraftAuthor

24 comments on “7 Ways to Bring Elevated Energy to Your Support Team”

  1. Kathryn - I love #2, 6 and 7! Deep inside, I always had faith in my writing - even faced with tons of rejections. I knew that if I kept at it, I'd get there. And I did!

    I find I always get more back than I give, when I try to help someone.

    Yes! Remember why you started on this journey to begin with - and it didn't have an NYT label on it - it was for the love of the writing! I'd still be writing, even if I never sold. Though, don't get me wrong, selling is the best!

    Sure was wonderful seeing you at the WFWA Retreat - never enough time to spend talking to everyone!

    1. Great seeing you too Laura! No, there is never enough time, but our moment was spent under a pre-dawn sky lit by a half moon and a million stars. Not too shabby!

  2. Thank you for an inspirational way to start my week. I also am in love with points #2, 6 and 7. Faith,,,giving ... love. Perfect things to remember as we write. Right now a book I wrote with my friend and co-writer, Debi King McMartin is not #1 on the New York Times but it is on the first page of Amazon's hot new releases. I am humbled and awed by the success of this true crime book.

    1. You're welcome Evelyn! (Hope I got your name right--took some serious investigation, but I just couldn't call you "older writer" without my Aunt Anne turning over in her grave, lol.) Congrats on your success!

  3. “It doesn’t matter what you believe, it matters that you believe.” <-- THIS!!! Great post to start the week. Thanks, Kathryn!

  4. Feeling a bit like a lone wolf with a limited support base. Even more so as I put my story out there--fighting the fears. I've printed out a hard copy of your inspiration to carry with me. Thank you Kathryn:)

      1. I tried to make the conference financially doable, but am to bogged down with medical bills. I'm planning now for next year, so I have something grand to look forward to!

        1. :-/ Sorry it won't work out, especially since this conference so far seems to be only every other year. But keep looking—you may find something much closer and more affordable to tide you over.

  5. Great post, Kathryn. I enjoy all your posts--always a nugget (or two or three) of wisdom and insight that hits home with me. This one is no exception.

    I don't have a book published (yet), so my team, at present, is small. Falling into the trap of second (third?) guessing myself can be a huge energy drainer, to say nothing of the way it can spill over on those around me. Making the choice to redirect my thoughts (and emotions) in the attitude of #7 gets me, and my writing, moving in a healthier, more productive direction.

    Thank you!

    1. Micky I know what you mean. I recognized this energy drain in my own life after ten years--should I keep going, or just hang this up? I pledged to myself that for one solid year I would continue forward without questioning my direction. It was tough, since self-doubt was such an easy fall-back position--but the next year I got my agent. Hang in there!

      1. We writers are the ultimate self-starters. We impregnate ourselves with the story, then have to go through gestation and all the childrearing! Whew! This question of 'hang it up' looms for all of us, successful or not. I remember an interview in which Gore Vidal told Terri Gross that he didn't have any plans to start another book, because they take two years and he wasn't sure if he would live to complete it. (It turns out he wouldn't have. He died a year later.) We authors and all artists, live on thrilling ground of our own making which underscores the need to truly celebrate the good that comes when our work is well-received. So definitely your #3 is really important. Thanks as always for your insight.

  6. Kathryn,

    So well thought out. I love how you are approaching this as a broader subject here. . . and, yes, I see a number of posts coming. Your first was more like taking refuge in your supporters, and we should never forget those that love us and take advantage of what they offer.

    This one addresses creating stability of mind and purpose, which is essential . . . and a challenge for authors still coming to grips with the alone-ness of the writer's life having to do battle in the trenches. The stability you outline here comes back to trust in self and love of the art. AND letting the past be passed. If we drag our unresolved pain along, it infects those in our present. Few people thrive when we bring them our whine.

    Now I sense you are preparing us for becoming active; what actions we can take to actually contribute. I can't wait for next month. (And your mentioning me above brings me to the Near End of Happy.)

    1. I agree with Denise, Tom, well said. I have always thought of the writer's life as a constant balancing act, but I love your use of the word "stability" here, which I have never before used. It is the goal of the balancing act, and as stability is gained, the wobbles grow less damaging. I love to honor the comments on my posts, so thanks for yours, which launched this new series of posts!

  7. Your post couldn't have come at a better time. I need to re-evaluate where I am emotionally and spiritually. Although I'm slowly progressing with my writing, I second-guess every word. No energy! I'm slogging through mud. Thanks for this post!

    1. I'm glad it could inspire, Barb. I wonder if you might need more fuel in the story engine itself? Once a story is crackling it becomes hard NOT to write it, and the backstory motivation, the character's extreme desire, the stakes for failure, and the end you have in sight usually can quell the word-by-word second-guessing. I highly recommend Lisa Cron's new book, Story Genius, to revive you!

      1. Kathryn is right, Barb. Story Genius made me look at my book with new eyes. How often does that happen with something you've been doing for over twenty years? You won't be sorry you spent the money!

  8. Hey Kathryn, thanks for another great post!

    I especially like how u say,

    "You will do your team no good if you can’t get beyond what’s already in your rear view. Let go of what those other agents and editors said, and the opinions of those one-star reviewers, because continuing to vilify them will only drain you. Lessons learned can fuel future course correction"

    Strikes a chord for sure, especially coming into the end of my MFA.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hey Lisa, congrats on having that MFA in view! Awesome. I've seen the scenario devil people who self-published "by default" (as opposed to by choice) especially. Vilifying the agents and editors that prop up the industry they hope will support them never seems to me a very wise choice. Ever forward!

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