Being an Author is a Mental Game: The Universe Balances Out

Winning the mental game: toddler smushing cat

Be like a cat and play the long game.
Keep your ultimate goal always in mind!

I have several helpful writing posts which include specific things you can do to improve your writing business as well as your craft sitting in my drafts folder, but today I need to address something different which is just as important.

Yesterday was one of those rollercoaster days where life and business collide with spectacular fireworks zipping you up to the top before plummeting you down to the bottom. As a result, I’m going to share something a little less cerebral and a little more from the heart. However, the take home from today’s post will be just as helpful and important as any tangible specific writing tip.

Before I get pontificating, the take home is this: The universe always has a way of balancing things out. Surviving real life is a mental game. (Tweet this.)

You know that ying-yang symbol with the black and white halves in a circle and how they balance each other? Well, the universe does that with your life. Sometimes we can’t always see it, but it is there like the scales of justice, always adjusting.

Yesterday was one of those such days and it was a reminder that life is always changing and always adjusting and you have to play a mental game with yourself in order to survive those real life rollercoaster rides. When you think you are having a bad day you need to step back and look at the whole picture. Change your focus. See the good things. And, most importantly, carry on.

Real Life Examples

Yesterday I fell out of the top 100 free kindle books on Amazon.com with my novel, Champagne and Lemon Drops. On the flip side, it went free in the UK (Amazon.co.uk) and began climbing its way towards the top 100 free. Balance.

In the morning I also suddenly got a handful of ‘bad’ reviews where the readers seemed to see exactly into my writer’s heart and spear my flaws that I knew were there but hoped nobody would notice–I had hoped I’d edited them out or at least glossed them sufficiently. I had what you might call an OSM (Oh, Sh*t! Moment).

But then, after hearing some bad news and feeling like everything had suddenly slipped to the dark side of the ying-yang symbol like a boat being tossed about by waves… right before bed I decided to check my Amazon.com reviews and rank for Champagne and Lemon Drops. Four FABULOUS readers had left wonderful reviews that brought tears to my eyes. Everything shifted back on a level keel. Maybe I wasn’t a fraud after all… Maybe this would work out.

Another example would be a few weeks ago when my literary agent retired (on April Fool’s Day no less) leaving my nonfiction project becalmed in the middle of the ocean. This was two days after Champagne and Lemon Drops had gone free on Amazon.com and was suddenly reaching wayyyy more readers. Several days after that it began climbing into some top 100 lists. Balance. Again.

When the Scales Don’t Rebalance Quickly

In my examples above the balance has quickly readjusted. That makes it easy to win the mental game that helps you survive. The issue becomes those time when the positive paybacks are years later–in other words you feel as though you are hanging out in the dark side of the ying-yang symbol for a lonnnnng time. That’s when it is easy to give up, feel defeated, and wonder why the hell you are even doing this.

For example, maybe your book launches sort of like a weighed balloon. Crap. You failed. But then years later it finds its niche. I know an author whose book hit bestseller lists almost two years after he launched it. And yes, winning that mental game in that two year lag was hard for him. He felt like he had failed and he found it hard to keep writing. The little things got to him.

When it feels like things are in the dark side I suggest this: write down the good. It’s easy to skip over the good stuff. In today’s world where you are only as interesting as your latest Facebook update drama (ever notice how these are often negative complaints presented as entertainment?) it can be difficult to see the good. Train yourself to see the positive. At the end of every day write down three good things that happened that day–even if it is something simple and unrelated to your writing. Mmmm. This morning the coffee wasn’t bitter. Nice.

In the past I have kept gratitude journals where I write down 3-5 good things that happened that day (work or personal related) and recently I have also added a ‘feel good’ file on my computer. This has simple things like screenshots of someone tweeting me something nice like “Happy Birthday!” or a nice ranking for my book, or even something like an email from Twitter showing that one of my heroes started following me on Twitter. Look for the good. Keep your lips turned up. Once you start looking you might be surprised at how much white there is in your personal ying-yang.

You can do this. Win the mental game. Start today.

How about you? Is your world balancing out? Is there anything you can actively do to balance things out? Share your tips and thoughts in the comment section.

Click to Tweet this post –> Survival is a mental game: tips for authors.

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5 comments on “Being an Author is a Mental Game: The Universe Balances Out
  1. I loved this, Jean. Just loved it. Thank you! I am adding it to my “feel good” list for today!

  2. So glad you blogged about this. We all go through it. I’m fairly new to the whole writing biz, but I’m getting better about not taking everything so personally. It’s SO hard when you put hours and hours of your life into a project and somebody cuts up in little bits and hands it back saying as nicely as they can, (or not) that you pretty much need to start over. I’m thankful for any and all of my writer buddies that are willing to give up some of their precious time to even look over any of my words. I have a feeling I’ll be really old before I get published…if ever. But the journey I’ve taken learning how to write and meeting some really fantastic people in the process has been one of the greatest gifts I could have ever received. ‘
    I’m including you in the pool of ‘really cool’ people I’ve met. 😉

    • jeanoram says:

      Thanks Suzanne. It is hard. The payoffs are tremendous, but the stings are definitely there and I know they can get me doubting myself.

      I am so thankful for my writing buddies as well. An amazing group of people! Writers seriously rock. And thanks for including me with the ‘cool’ people. I’m cool! I’m cool! (Finally. 😉 )

      For those who don’t know Suzanne, she is seriously the nicest person on Twitter that you will ever meet. You should totally follow her. 🙂

  3. Jemi Fraser says:

    Love this post, Jean! Writing echoes life with that ying/yang up/down rhythm. Some days it’s so hard to believe we’ll be on the upswing again. Seeing the balance and the positive is THE best way to keep moving forward!

    I 2nd the advice to follow Suzanne! She’s awesome 🙂

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