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Sunday, February 16, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough by Joan Reeves

Remember the old Billy Ocean song When The Going Gets Tough? If you're not old enough to remember the song, look it up on iTunes. What do you do when the going gets tough? The way you answer that question may determine your longevity as a writer—and as a human being.

You've heard the old cliché and seen the inspirational posters: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Right?

Well, usually. Sometimes when the going gets tough, if you've been fighting the good fight for a long time, maybe you should just relax a bit. Take a load off, Fanny, to quote another old song. Take a vacation even if it's just a day off to goof around.

How To Goof Off Productively

Set a time schedule for relaxing, or you may end up relaxing away the rest of the year instead of a couple of days. After a few days of catching up on your TV viewing or a day at the golf course or shopping or just reading, you'll be surprised how much better you feel. You'll be ready to dive into writing—and life—again with renewed energy rather than become a burnout victim.

Take A Dis Vacation

Take a vacation from disrespecting yourself or anyone else. All that negativity and whining takes an enormous amount of energy. Resolve that if you can't say anything good about someone that you'll just keep your mouth shut. That goes for your self-talk too. Especially for your self talk! Stop saying all those nasty things to yourself.

Some people trash talk themselves so much you'd think they were getting paid to do it. Start saying good things about yourself. You're not a loser because you didn't get that promotion or paint the dining room before New Year’s or write 100 pages last week. Get some perspective on your goals and on your life and never personalize the downside of anything. Ever.

Figure Out Where You're Going

Do you have goals? If so, are they realistic? Most people set goals so high that there’s no fracking way they can ever achieve them. They’re not setting goals—they’re setting themselves up for failure. Figure out exactly what you want. You. Not your spouse or your best buddy. What you want. Not what you should want.

What would make you happy? Set your goals realistically—high enough that you have to work to achieve them but low enough to be in the realm of real possibility. Set up a viable action plan to achieve the goal. Step by step. Day by day.

Wrong-thinking Goal: I want to hit the NYT best seller list with this book. Or, on a smaller scale, I want to win Yard of the Month from the Garden Club. Both are totally out of your control.

Right-thinking Goal: I want to finish the manuscript. I want to have a weed-free yard. Both are totally within your control.

Dance To The Music

Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music. (Must be old song week, right?) With everything you do, set up a system of milestones and rewards. When you achieve a stated milestone like completing the first draft of a manuscript or getting an interview for a new job, celebrate. When you get a good book review or you get an "attaboy" at work, celebrate. If you get your first rejection as a writer, celebrate.

I don't mean pop a hundred dollar bottle of bubbly each time, but do celebrate and bask in the glory of achievement. Make the reward commensurate with the achievement.

Be Present

Live today. Don't get caught in the trap of regretting what you didn't get done yesterday. Pat yourself on the back for what you did today. Avoid thinking: when I get this done, I'll be happy. That's just a way of postponing happiness.

Learn what it takes to be happy every day. Be happy when you’re typing away on your first draft of a book or working at the Evil Day Job. Be happy when you’re hitting the Publish button on Kindle Digital Publishing and just as happy when you’re staring at a 1-star review. Happiness is a choice that comes from within, not from external circumstances.

The shortest time is the space between projects when it’s all done and you’re basking in the glow of completion. That is such a short time. Happiness shouldn't be reserved for that tiny span of time. Be happy then and when you’re just hanging in there and enduring the present in hopes of a brighter future. Live each day and be happy each day.

Don't postpone your satisfaction for some future time or happiness will always be just out of reach. Enjoy the journey because time spent on the road to success is longer than time spent at the destination.

Remember This

I hate to use Hollywood buzz words, but be present in your life. Live in the now. Be happy now. That's the real secret to avoiding burnout as a writer and as a human being.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a bestselling author of Contemporary Romance whose books are available as Audiobooks (at iTunes and Audible), eBooks (at most major sellers), and Print (coming to CreateSpace and Amazon soon. I promise! Visit Joan online at her Website, SlingWords, her blog, or on Twitter @JoanReeves and

Look for Joan's new nonfiction ebook on Feb. 20: Little Book of Sunshine: For Readers and Writers. Encouragement and Inspiration for only 99cents wherever ebooks are sold. (Okay, maybe not every ebook seller on the planet, but most!)


  1. Nice "pep" talk! Enjoyed your blog. Have a GREAT day!

    1. Thanks, Karren. It's been a lovely spring day here. Hope your holiday has been just as nice.

  2. Great post, Joan, and just what I needed today!

    1. Thanks, Caroline. I had to go read what I wrote again because I've been searching through everything for a contract I signed in 2000. Finally found it! Whew. That's a relief.


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