September Theme: LIFE PRESERVERS
By Marcia Thornton Jones

Writing is the one thing I want to do and yet it’s the first thing I tend to avoid. I know all about setting goals, making schedules, and BIC-ing and yet I still find it hard to jump in and do the work. One reason is that there are so many what-if piranhas nibbling at my toes. What if my writing doesn’t match my vision? What if my characters fall flat? What if my plot is so holey it sinks? What if….?
The only way to conquer the what-ifs is to dive in and bop them on the nose but, as with swimming, I’ve discovered a few pool rules can serve as life preservers to keep me afloat.
  1. Never swim alone. When the waves get choppy (and they will) and sharks circle (and they do), having a supportive community of like-minded peers can be a life preserver. Writers are some of the most generous people I’ve met; willing to keep me afloat with support, encouragement, and advice.
  2. Know when to detach. There are things I can swim around; then there are things that are going to smack up against me no matter how hard I’m paddling. If I let my sense of self-worth be attached to the willy-nilly publishing currents I would surely drown. That’s why there are times I need to let go and take my chances dog paddling until I find a better current.
  3. Stay grounded. When I’m in over my head it’s time to head for the shallows to regain footing on solid ground. Staying connected by remembering why I write in the first place makes it tougher for the currents to wash me out with the riptide.
The only way to learn how to swim is to dive in and get wet, but some days I feel like all I’m getting is a snoot full of water for my efforts. Remembering to stay grounded, know when to detach, and that I am surrounded by a supportive community makes it a lot less daunting—and at least with writing I don’t have to wait thirty minutes after eating before jumping in!


  1. Man, is this true. I especially like #2. So often, as New Year's rolls around, I hear from unpubbed authors, "My resolution is to get that first contract this year!" Weeeeell... You're better off keeping your eye on how many manuscripts you'll revise, how many times you'll submit, how many new genres you'll try. Best to keep your eye on what YOU control!


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