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Giving Yourself Permission

The publishing industry is a world of peaks and valleys, whether we're carving out time to write our first book, or topping the bestseller lists. There is excitement at every turn – and also, plenty of adversity. It can be rough. It can be excruciating.

But that's why we're so awesome for sticking with it.

Truly, in an industry like this, it's so, so important to be kind to yourself. That means giving yourself permission to struggle, to mourn, to take your time, to lean on others, and much more. 

Give yourself permission….

. . . to take your time.

As writers, we're so aware of time. How much time we have to write each day. How long it'll take to finish a book and revise it. To get an agent. To sell to a publisher. And after that, there's contracts, editing, promotion, and (a million light years away) release.

Everything takes so damned long! As a result, we often fall victim to this relentless urge to hurry hurry hurry – because somebody will write our idea, or we won't have a 2013 book out, or we'll turn 18 or 30 or 45, or a million other arbitrary things. On good days, that hurry hurry hurry refrain lights a fire under our butts. But it's also really freaking stressful. And stress doesn't result in our best books – or happiness in general.

As long as you keep writing regularly, give yourself permission to take your time. It'll take how long it takes. And however long that is – it's okay. 

. . . to do other things.

When I'm doing anything other than writing, I have this nagging feeling that I should be writing. Which has a double-punch of making fun activities less fun – and actual writing seem like a chore. It's just as important to enjoy life outside the pages. Give yourself permission to bake (brown butter rice krispie treats is my recommendation), to hike, to take a weekend trip, to watch a movie or the game – and not think about writing one bit.

. . . to set it free.

Anything you can fix in your book yourself, you should probably fix before sharing it. But with certain roadblocks, you can angst and angst and still have trouble. I've been known to revise within an inch of my life, treading water for weeks around the same couple scenes, before sharing a manuscript with beta readers. That's self-conscious and silly. We're not alone wrestling these literary krakens – that's what critique partners are for. Let that book go! Set it free.

. . . to rage and cry and mourn.

Because sometimes, publishing aches. That story you wrote half of, but just can't finish. Or that book you sent to sixty agents, but nobody bit. Or your book came out, but didn't sell well. Or it was totally slammed in reviews.

It hurts. In a way that feels super personal, because we put so much of ourselves into our books, whether we're newbies or old pros. It's real and your feelings aren't weak or amateur (as long as you keep them off the internets). You are allowed to rage and cry and mourn. Right this minute, if you need to. We can even scream together! Ready, set…

. . . to be envious.

Because we're only human, and when we're struggling, sometimes mega-successes can hit a little hard. Jealousy is another story, though – it gnaws and aches and makes us bitter. It's not healthy, for us or for the universe.

. . . to take a break.

If envy's turning to jealousy, or if you're just not in the best headspace, or if everything feels like pressure all of a sudden, give yourself permission to take a break. From the internet: from Twitter, and Facebook, and Tumblr, and Goodreads. From the industry, if you need to. Even from writing. But not too long. And never, ever from your friends.

. . . to lean on others.

Sometimes, out of self-consciousness or pride, we keep what's bothering or hurting us inside. That's why writing friends are so invaluable – they get it. Don't be afraid to ask for help: with your book, or with what's eating at you. Chances are, your friends will understand.

. . . to move on.

When you've tried and tried, and your book's just not working, give yourself permission to move on. Just not too easily, or too often. If we gave up at every hard part, our books would never get written. But if a project brings you no joy – well, life's too short, and you have a thousand stories to tell.

I can't wait to read them.

Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten is the author of Like Mandarin, Wanderlove, and the middle grade novel Watch the Sky.

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  1. Thank you for this. Much needed.

  2. I loved loved loved this post. I feel the need to hurry all the time because of exactly the reasons you said. Just last night I was thinking, this is the deadline I'm setting for myself to get my revisions done, but that doesn't mean I should rush, because then I'll just have to do them again if I missed something.
    Great post!

  3. Such a thoughtful and wonderful post. Thanks :)

  4. Perfect. Exactly what I needed today. Thank you so much!

  5. Perfect. Exactly what I needed today. Thank you so much!

  6. THANK YOU! Really, much needed reminder!

  7. So, so, so true! What I always tell friends and TRY to believe in myself.

  8. Thank you! What an insightful post! True words from a writer who understands other writers :) The support and comfort is much appreciated!

  9. Wonderful post! I needed to read this today too. :)

  10. So so so so so so SO much love for this. Thanks for writing and sharing this -- for reminding us. Rock on, initials buddy! - another KH ;)

  11. I really needed this - and I really needed this *today*. Thank you.

  12. Totally needed this today. Thank you!

  13. You're awesome, Kirsten. Thanks for this...

  14. Love this post! Thank you so much for the permission to do the things I rarely allow myself to do. :)

  15. Thank you for this post. Today my mantra has been a manic hurry, hurry, hurry...

  16. thank you so much, everyone! I'm glad it was helpful. these are all things I've been working on myself over the past few months.

  17. Love this Kirsten. Much needed, and so true. I'm bookmarking it now!

  18. Thank you - especially for the part about taking your time. I've just turned twenty, and pretty much EVERYONE in my family was like, "So you've passed your teens, and you're still not published, or even querying." Today, I was wondering if it was even worth it to keep pushing forward.

  19. This absolutely made my day. It's so perfect and true and just exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!


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Item Reviewed: Giving Yourself Permission Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kirsten Hubbard