Tuesday, March 24, 2015

One Step at a Time

I've been very overwhelmed lately.
As some of you may have heard, the publisher that asked to read my manuscript ultimately passed on the project. It was disappointing, but I dealt with it and sent out more queries. At least, I thought I dealt with it. Turns out I merely shoved my disappointment down and tried to hide it which is most definitely not a healthy way to handle that situation.
And yes, that came back to bite me. About a week later I started feeling discouraged and kept thinking about the rejection. I was so close to my dream that I could taste it, and then it was snatched away. And then the next day I received yet another rejection from an agent who said my story sounded interesting, but wasn't right for her. Once again--so close, yet so far. Then that whole week I was stuck on the chapter I was writing in my fantasy project, which then made me start believing the story was cliche and boring and had no potential (which is a big deal simply because I've been thinking about and plotting for this story for years.) Then a bunch of assignments for school had me swamped, as did my recent jump into the long and stressful adventure of searching for a part-time job. All of this, plus a bunch of social gatherings and nights out with friends, is the reason I didn't post anything last week. I was so overwhelmed sometimes I felt like I couldn't breathe.
But of course, the point of this post is not merely to vent to you about my busy and stressful life, as good as venting feels.
As I have been trying and failing to deal with this stress, I realized something. Back in middle school, it was required for eighth graders to take a course called study skills. As a close-to straight-A student, most of the class was useless information that I already knew or didn't need to use, except for one thing that, for some reason, came to mind the other day.
When you set goals for yourself, there are long-term goals and short-term goals. In fact, for one of our assignments in the class we had to write down one long-term goal and then a bunch of short-term goals that will help us one day achieve the long-term goal. And as I remembered doing this, it hit me--I am focusing way too much on my long-term goal of publication.
Now that I'm an adult in college, my thoughts have been nothing but queries, agents, publishers, writing, editing, etc. My focus has been entirely on my future career, and it's stressing me out.
Instead of focusing all of my energy on my long-term goal, I need to take things one step at a time and focus on my short-term goals: edit a few chapters of Altered every week, write 100 words of my fantasy project every day, find a nannying position that works with my schedule, finish out the semester strong, etc. These short-term goals are much easier to achieve, which gives me a feeling of accomplishment and takes away that overwhelming feeling. Now I'm working on filling in my calendar with daily, weekly, and monthly goals for myself that are realistic and manageable.
Sometimes when life gets busy, it seems like things are moving too fast and it's easy to get overwhelmed. But if you take your eyes off of the big picture and focus on taking things one step at a time, you'll find that it's much easier to handle the crazy things that life brings. So stop stressing yourself out over finishing your novel in a month or editing your whole book in two weeks. Quit letting yourself get overwhelmed over juggling school, work, tests, writing, and whatnot. Instead, take a deep breath and take things day by day, focusing on small goals. Take one step at a time, and soon enough you'll find yourself on top and finally achieving your long-term goal--whatever it may be!

"The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty." Proverbs 21:5

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