Friday, May 6, 2011

Getting Out Of Your Own Way

Okay, I sucketh at this. But you know how sometimes you're your own worst enemy? Your toughest critic? All that jazz?

Yeah, me too.

So here's the deal. I've been sending and receiving quite a few emails with some friends of mine. They are kind, and helpful, and oh-so-valuable to me.

One thing I read that really caught my eye was something along the lines of: You've done all you can do. Get out of your own way.
(This is not a direct quote, but it's what I heard in my brain.)

Wow. Just wow.

That was an awesome lesson for me. Sometimes I think creative people beat themselves up too much. We're just a little too hard on ourselves. We actually make life and writing and creating harder than it needs to be.

And who's that obstacle?

Ourself. (Is ourself a word? Sounds funny coming out of my mouth, but it's not underlined...)

So. Following the advice of Michael Jackson, take a good look at the man in the mirror. And ask yourself: What do I want? Am I working hard to get it? Have I done all I can do?

Am I standing in my own way?


Then get out of your own way.

55 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Wow! That's great advice. And I really need it because I constantly beat up on myself for not writing fast enough/producing fast enough, having more than one manuscript done, etc.

Sarah said...

Sometimes getting out of your own way is easier said than done, but it's important to think about, and great advice. What you think about yourself and your writing has a huge impact on how productive and creative you can be--and how happy you are.

Angela Felsted said...

Great advice!

Natalie Zaman said...

Another inspiring post, dahlink! And just what I needed too--I'm crawling toward the end of my WIP (revising afterward of course). Just finishing this one (again) will be a triumph...

Laura Pauling said...

Awesome! and So true!

Trisha Wolfe said...

This is so true. Nobody I speak with daily doubts or questions themselves more than writers. Some of my writing friends are the most wonderful and talented people I've ever known, yet they continually feel they aren't enough--need to be better, and strive to attain more. I do this as well. I'll pass this advice on and try to take it! =)

J. L. Jackson said...

Great words of wisdom. Glad I am not the only one who is so critical of myself.

Theresa Milstein said...

I agree! We writers are a self-criticizing bunch. A needy bunch! And in a way it's good because it drives.
But when you're at the point where the book is coming out and promotion plans are in place, you need to step back and let it unfold.

There are stages in this process where we need to just let it happen. Like when we query.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

In other words, are you hurting your own efforts?

cmobrien said...

Elana ~
This is exactly what I needed to hear today. It's especially true during first-drafting.
But I think I'll wait until Monday to try it.
Ha!
All best,
Caragh

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Well, since you put it that way. :D

Liza said...

Perfect.

Heather Kelly said...

I think each of us get in our own way at some point in the road to publication, which is why this career is so difficult--not only do we have to be great writers, great revisers, have great imagination, but we also have to survive rejection, be brave enough to keep putting ourselves out there, be persistent, then switch gears and put ourselves out there with marketing once we've done all the other stuff. For the love of Pete, why do we do it??? :)

And--I think you do every single aspect of this journey well, Elana. Don't be too hard on yourself!!!!

Michelle McLean said...

awesome advice :)

Christine Fonseca said...

Dude, I'm the worst at this! As you well know. Thanks for the reminder

Suzie F. said...

This is so true!

I need to push myself out of my own way, which, when you try and picture it, is not that easy.

salarsenッ said...

Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.

Happy Mother's Day, amazing writer friend. ;)

Marisa Hopkins said...

Sometimes, reading your blog is the best part of my morning, E. *fangirl moment* Seriously, though. I am so hard on myself and it's AWFUL and I often forget that this is supposed to be fun.

And I'm not even querying yet - I'm still in the super fun part of writing - piddling around with my book without deadlines and pressure. Well, pressure from people other than myself! I love knowing that other creative types are the same way! (not that I love other people being stressed and hard on themselves, too, but ... well, you know what I mean! :) )

Have a great Mother's Day!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There's always more we can do, but if you spread yourself too thin, you won't be effective at any of it.

Laurel Garver said...

Great advice, especially when held up against--"are you working hard to get what you want?" I get in my own way when discouragement steals my energy and I stop working.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Awesome post, Elana. And just what I needed to underscore last night's epiphany. I need to get the heck out of my own way so I can earn all the things I know I deserve. =o)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This post has WISDOM, Elana--such great advice. :-)

Paul Greci said...

So true. I know this from first-hand experience. Time to step aside now....

Emily White said...

I. LOVE. This advice.

Mary Ann said...

So glad to hear I'm in good company. Yesterday I read through several blogs and overwhelmed by how productive everyone else seems to be. Big no-no. I know better than to compare myself to others, but oops, there I go again.

Jo Schaffer said...

Tally ho!

Great advice and so true. Let awesomeness happen.

Donea Lee said...

I wonder this all the time and the truth is - I probably stand in my own way A LOT! It's so hard to take great advice and then actually apply it to life. But, I do try.

Thanks, Elana, for a great reminder! :)

Chelsey said...

Solid advice. Definitely something I try not to do, but I'm sure I do sometimes.

Lisa Gail Green said...

That's just awesome.

Heather said...

This one made me think really hard and I realized I have been standing in my own way, in a way. ;) Thank you for making me think! And no worries, your launch is going to rock. I'm predicting very good things. :)

Deana said...

This may be horrible, but it is so refreshing to hear these words from the mouth of a published author (or are you not considered published until the release date of your book?) Either way you are going to have a book on the shelves soon:)
Beating myself up seems to be a pretty consistent pasttime for me and I often wonder how to get past it. You answered my questions...just shut up and move over:) Thanks!

Marsha Sigman said...

I love this.

Candyland said...

I'm always in my own way. It's a tough habit to break.

Liesl said...

Love. This. Love it.

Jennifer said...

Wonderful advice and it could not be more true...atleast in my own case. Thanks for sharing

Amber Argyle said...

Really, will you stop picking things out of my brain and posting about them. Sheesh, Elana. ESP much?
;)
No really, are all debut authors going through this? Or is it just us? Cause I have these "hug my pillow and rock in the corner" phases where I'm TOTALLY FREAKED out.

What if everyone hates my book? What if it doesn't sell and my publisher never wants to see another thing from me? What if I say or do something that goes viral and destroyes my career? WHAT IF I HAVE A HUGE GRAMMATICAL ERROR ON PAGE 1! Sometimes I feel like that Greek guy. You know the one with the world on his shoulders for all eternity.

Only I'm a girl. And I don't think I'd look as hot in a toga.

Casey McCormick said...

I am in my way SO BAD.

Pam Torres said...

It is so easy to do this to ourselves. Sometimes without even realizing it. Thanks for the reminder.

Krispy said...

Good thing to keep in mind. Sometimes I wonder if I'm sabotaging my own life... :P Happy Friday!

Lindsay said...

Great advice. I'm the worst person for standing in my own way without knowing it sometimes. LOL

Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome advice! I think the hardest thing an author has to do is click send. Send to a critique partner or beta reader. Send to an agent. Send to reviewers. Etc. But you can never achieve anything if you don't first put yourself out there and lay it all out there on the line. Only you can click send.

Karen Lange said...

Good advice! Thanks. :) Have a great Mother's Day weekend!

Kori Donahue said...

I know the feeling!!!

If you get a chance, check out my post today, we're doing a novel release party about the release of my first book! I'd love to have you stop by and be a part of the party! Have a fabulous Fashion Friday love! Kori xoxo

www.blondeepisodes.com

Teresa aka JW said...

Yes, and that's all I'll say. :)

Regina said...

I love this because I am in my own way all the time. Something I need to fix.

Jeff King said...

As of right now, I can’t answer yes to your questions, so I must be in my own way—in the other sense. I need to do more, and learn faster.

As always I love your posts.

Jemi Fraser said...

Really good advice ... hard to follow sometimes, but really good nonetheless! :)

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

I know I stand in my own way and sometimes I'm lazy and hope to get away with that. It hasn't really worked for me so far.

Lauri said...

Thanks for this. As someone who regularly gets in her own way, I appreciate the reminder.

T C Mckee said...

Oh girl, my husband tells me this all the time. I'm too hard on myself. I think we all have the tendency to be that way. As soon as I believe in myself though, I get so much more accomplished. Time seems to stand in my way the most. I never have enough of it. BTW, I'm having a contest over on my blog in your honor. :)

Anita Saxena said...

I know I most definitely get in my own way and that my mental issues and insecurities are my biggest obstacle. Thank you for this post and helping me lift my self induced road block to my goals.

L.T. Elliot said...

So, I? Love this post. (And not just because of what you said at the conf. this weekend.) Truly, I love when you post things like this. Your brain-epiphanies always seem to spark mine.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I was recently told that I'm too hard on myself, and when I shared that observation with a couple family members, they all had the same reaction: Nooooooooooooo.

(apparently sarcasm runs in the family)

My response was "why didn't anyone tell me?" I'm trying to learn to cut myself some slack, but it's not easy.

Melissa Lemon said...

Great advice! Thanks for your presentation at the conference this weekend. I went to one of yours last year, too and it was great. Thanks for sharing what you know!

Sara B. Larson said...

What a great post. And so true. Thanks for the great advice. I hope you had a great time at Storymakers. I'm so bummed I couldn't go, but my son's bday party trumped my writing dreams this time.

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