Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tested on the Road Trip

The second question I’m dissecting from my post 8 Questions Every Writer Must Ask Themselves is:

Am I resilient enough to handle rejection and long waits?

Picture this: You plan a road trip across country. You map it out, expecting to arrive in about a week. But you encounter more than your share of setbacks throwing your expectations into Tasmanian devil frenzy and hysteria.

Setbacks like:

  • flat tires (exhausted and discouraged from the wait)

  • getting lost (buying into the negative voices)

  • need for bladder breaks (too distracted to write)

  • bad weather (things outside your control throwing you off course and making you swerve)

  • rough & bumpy roads (writing just isn’t flowing)

  • detours (rejections—ouch!)

  • bumper & exhaust fall off (major edits)

  • donkeys surround car (every other obstacle in your way on the road to publication) (note: this actually happened to me and my husband at a state park in Montana)

I want you to make it across country. Heck, I want to make it across country. So I’m giving you a checklist of things that have helped me keep on keepin’ on so far:

Hit the Rest Stops Sometimes I need a break. My words come out muddled and I have some other major issue taking up all the vacant brain space needed to write. I pull over and rest up. Better to drive alert than fall asleep at the wheel.

Pick Up Friends along the Way Some friends might even start out as strangers. Remember when hitchhiking didn’t conjure up every scary movie known to man? Think of fellow authors as nice hitchhikers. These folks can be excellent encouragers, critique partners, and they most likely know what it feels like to drive all night.

Connect with Truckers These roadies have traveled the path. They know the roads like Galileo knew the stars. Give ‘em the old trucker hand pump to get them to honk. We can learn so much from them.

Assess Food Supply I pay attention to how much I’ve poured into my work—how much plotting and editing I’ve accomplished. If I’m spending every day chomping on beef jerky alone, how can I expect to have enough energy to make it across country?

Gas Up I read books on the craft, books in my genre. I read any & everything. I eat books.

Map it Out, but Keep Expectations in Check (more on this in a few weeks)

Get Some Fresh Air Have a life outside of writing? What? What’s that? Yeah, I said it. I can’t tell you how many creative thoughts stir inside me when I’m running or brush painting. Life breeds ideas. Live a little.

Reward Yourself with Beautiful Views Whenever I reach a new milestone, an article in print, an agent asks for partial, then a full, I find a way to reward myself. I get out of the car and enjoy the sights, the unique landscaping each state of writing provides (all except Texas of course. Texas = driving purgatory).


What are your tips for making it for the long haul and determining whether you are resilient enough to keep on keepin’ on?

*photos by flickr


  1. Mmmm, books are yummy. I eat them too. :-) Great analogy here, and great advice!

  2. Fantastic comparisons and great advice!

  3. Whenever I'm tempted to give up, I read Hebrews 12:1-3 to myself--a great passage on perseverance and Who to truly put my focus on.

    Wonderful post as always. Thanks, Wendy!

  4. You have a gift with analogy, Wendy. Wow!

    I laughed when I got to the seventh item on your list of setbacks. I had more than the bumper and exhaust pipes fall off. I was sitting in a vehicle stripped to the chassis with little more than an engine, driver's seat, and steering wheel. Little by little, using many of your wonderful tips, I survived that experience.

    I couldn't have done it without the "hitchhikers" I met along the way, though. So glad you came along for the ride. =)

  5. Have you seen the movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium? (If not, hie thee to Netflix and procure it!)

    In there, one of the characters is looking for her sparkle, a reflection of something bigger inside her that is trying to get out.

    I have to say, Wendy-girl, you absolutely sparkle. Your voice is truly amazing.

    I loved this post because of all the things it reveals about the amazing person you are. :)

  6. I enjoyed reading your post. I could add the - Did I forget to turn off the coffee maker? - slash - Don't second guess yourself once you have sent out the query, partial, or manuscript. The thoughts will drive you crazy on the journey! Great post!

  7. Great analogy, Wendy! On my trips I like to take along some music... something to keep me singing and distract me. That would be a new w.i.p. to work on while I wait.

    Carol J. Garvin

  8. Sometimes I feel like I'm hanging out with the donkeys. What then?

    Loved this post, girl!!

  9. Wow, Wendy, you've certainly painted a vivid picture of a writer's road trip. Wise words here, girl. We each need all the encouragement we can get!

    And thank you so much for stopping by my blog to celebrate with me. :-)

  10. Great post, Wendy! I love your analogies--they're so fun and unique. You forgot one big thing, though. Every road trip needs good music!

  11. Love this. I have to remind myself that I'm an eternal being and my Lord sees me accordingly. Eternity spans a long time. I shouldn't hurry for anything.

  12. Excellent post and good food for thought. For me it's all about tenacity, perseverance, and perhaps a titch of stubbornness!

  13. Jessica, Thanks. They taste so good.

    Thanks Laura!

    Heidi, So cool how Jesus is called author in that passage. Thanks for having me look it up!

    Keli, We are on one heck of a road trip, aren't we? Windows down. Laughing hard. What I love about you, Keli is that you take everything you've experienced and use it to keep you humble and relatable. I cannot wait to see you.

    Erica, You seriously got to me. What you wrote today truly means a lot. I'm filing it. I will rent that movie and will prob. think of you the whole time. I quoted Shakespeare in Love on a post recently which led me to watch it last weekend.

    Loree, I'm a freak about such things, but I don't drink coffee so for me it's the iron, the stove and at night I have to have all my dresser drawers pushed in before I can rest easy. I am so entirely sane. ;)

    careann, Oh, I like how you turned your WIP into music. Good thinking!

    Heather, You cracked me up w/ this comment. You know what we did to get those donkeys to move? We threw them crackers. So, Polly, I'll throw you a cracker and hope you'll keep movin' across country with me!

    Julie, I am so excited for you! And I absolutely LOVE to encourage.

    Ralene, I think I left it out on purpose. I'm weird how I can't write with music on. I want it on just about every other moment of my life, but it distracts me when I write so b/c of that alone I left it out. But ah, let's. Let's have music. It's only an analogy! And as a tribute to my dad, Life is a Highway might be fit the occasion well.

    Tana, Being an impatient person, this has taken me time to learn and every time I think I've got it down, God throws a new lesson at me. Great thought.

    Linda, Nice, you included stubbornness...the song with the lyrics I drove all night just popped into my head. :D

    So glad to have you by. Curious where you are on the road. I'm probably driving like I used to drive long distance to see my boyfriend (now husband). Feet out the window. Music high as it will go. Lovin' the ride. Refusing to stop for anything (other than those breaks I mentioned earlier).

    Keep on keepin' on!
    ~ Wendy

  14. Great visuals, Wendy! I've experienced all of these.

    Susan :)

  15. Wonderful analogy:) I think having someone to ride along with you as company works best for me. When I'm tired, they pick me up:)

  16. Hi, Wendy!

    These are all great points and I think I've used them all so far. I also use prayer a lot to keep me going. My recent year off (for a miriad of reasons all running around family) has certainly recharged me, too! But unless you have to do this, I wouldn't recommend all that time off, then you have to deal with the heartache of missing writing the whole time, too.

  17. Great advice, thanks. I needed a boost and I think your post may be just the thing :) I don't have any advice except to say to those who, like me, squeeze writing in between full time work and family (during dark o' clock)- keep setting your alarm clocks!


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