Calm the $%* Down – Tips for the Over-Optimistic Writer

I am an optimist. No, really, I am. “But you run your subs down ALL the time!” I hear my CPs shout. It’s true, I do that. But that’s just a cunning front. Because deep inside, I am an honest to God, genuine, over-the-top optimist. And not in a ‘I think my sub isn’t too bad and perhaps I might get a request for more this time’ way. In a ‘OMG, what if the editor loves this SO MUCH she calls me before she’s even finished the first page and offers me a million dollar contract right there and then???’ way.

It’s giant pain in the butt. Every single time I send out a sub or enter a contest, this little piping voice is going “Hey hey hey! What if…???” And no matter how I try to ignore it, some part of me is nodding and thinking, ‘yeah…wouldn’t that be awesome?’ So when I actually get the ‘This submission is so bad, my dog could write it better than you’* letter it is GUTTING. Because although I tell myself it’s fine, deep down I’m envisaging movie rights and Angelina Jolie in the title role. It sucks and so I have to stomp on this little voice because all the things its telling me are Never. Going. To. Happen.

However, the problem with this is that then you start sounding negative about everything due to the fact that you’re constantly talking yourself down. And you don’t really want to be doing that either. So what can you do about it? How to deal with the disappointment?

Well, I have taken the liberty of compiling a little list (warning, use at your own risk):

1. Knock your head repeatedly against a wall until a) the voice shuts up or b) you knock yourself unconscious.
2. Compromise. If it will stop telling you the editors are SO going to ring you at 3am to tell you how much they love it and are going to publish it RIGHT NOW, then you’ll stop trying to tell it that in fact the editors will be sending YOU a request letter requesting that you never submit to them again.
3. Let it have its fun. Listen to its siren songs. Then go off and have as martinis as you need to forget you ever listened to it in the first place.
4. Stick your fingers in your ears, sing ‘lalalala’ loudly until you can’t hear it anymore.
5. Book yourself into a nice little hospital for a nice little ‘rest’.
6. Give into it. Believe everything it says. Then write rejection letters to publishers rejecting their rejections.
7. Pack it up in a box labelled ‘Satan’, push it to the back of your mind, and get lost in writing your next book.

Okay, so is this sounding as mad as I think it does? Or does anyone else out there have OTT Optimists that need settling down too?

*Not an actual quote from an actual rejection in case you were wondering.

10 thoughts on “Calm the $%* Down – Tips for the Over-Optimistic Writer”

  1. I have these voices, but I think I come at it from the other direction. I always think something stinks, but then the little voice tells me it’s great so I WILL send it anywhere and then I can write some more. It’s like the lollipop after the shot: better give me something good or I ain’t doing it again!

  2. Amalie – Lol, good point! I should give my little optimist a few more chances. But honestly, as good as Tolstoy?? Me? No. 🙂

    Rach – Hehe. Is that why you keep saying you’ll never sell again?? Tell the optimist that she’s totally right, NYT bestseller lists here you come!

  3. I have those exact same thoughts, too. Have tried to re-train my brain, but it doesn’t work. So I just go with it – even the most exciting, extreme scenarios pop into my head – and give myself a stern ‘keep working’ lecture once my brain can focus again.

    PS: my captcha below reads ‘aresolds’…The Evil Optimism is already building scenarios.

  4. I have those voices. I used to try to block out the positive one, because listening would make me excited, and then make the rejection all the more crushing because I’d allowed myself to think the eds might like it. But with a dozen rejections up my sleeve, I decided that if I’m going to get rejected anyway, the waiting time is a very precious. The time of possibilities, of allowing myself to be excited, because I don’t even allow myself to get excited at a What If, then why on earth am I still writing? So I listen to the positive every time I sub, allow myself to dream, then acknowledge the negative voice with a Damn You Were Right once I get the rejection . I’m hoping one of these days I can stick my tongue out at the negative, and go Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah, you were WRONG!

    And I hope you will too, Jackie. In fact, I know you will.

  5. Kristina – that is the BEST captcha ever! And maybe I should just give into it eh? Prepare myself for that 3am wakeup call and the million dollar instant contract. 🙂

    Madeline – that sounds incredibly sensible. You see, I do let myself listen to that voice and yes, when the R comes it is horrible, horrible, horrible. And I think ‘stupid, stupid woman!’. 🙂 But you know, you’re right, perhaps the excitement of hope is worth it.
    And thanks. I know you will too!

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