Writing has been one of my greatest passions in this lifetime. The road to publishing, however, has been one of my greatest teachers. In moments of epic frustration, I have had to remind myself, “You chose this, Anna. No one is holding a gun to your head telling you to pursue the life of an author.”
I have had long conversations with my soul on this very subject. Why? Why did we choose this again??? To which my soul often responds, Look at all you’ve learned.
Begrudgingly, I do look. And I see, as always, that my soul is right. This journey has grown me in ways I can’t imagine anything else would. For me, they have not all been easy lessons, and rarely fun, but I wouldn’t trade a single one. I can’t imagine the wreck I’d be without them.
Following, you’ll find just a few of the crucial things I’ve learned along the way—lessons that apply no matter who you are or what you’re pursuing. And, in keeping with the spirit of this blog, I’ll list some amazing crystals for writers of all kinds to work with. Make sure you read, or at least scroll, all the way to the end for a very special invitation as well.
In writing and in publishing, small victories are hard won. If you don’t take the time to celebrate them, you’ll end up feeling like you’ve accomplished a whole lot of nothing, which is a perfect recipe for burnout. Most of these tiny triumphs are won behind closed doors. It’s that chapter you thought you’d never complete. Or the first time an agent asks for your manuscript. They’re not always the sort of thing you’d send out announcements about, but your close family and writer friends will understand (and you should definitely have writer friends—do not, I repeat, do not try to go this one alone). Take yourself out to dinner, get a massage, or at least take a break to come up for air and pat yourself on the back.
2. Cultivate patience.
This was especially difficult for me. I am a Gemini. Quick is the name of the game for us. We don’t like our time wasted because we have none to waste when there are so many interesting things out there begging for our attention. And we simply must try them all. In addition, I have an Aries moon and a Sagittarius rising. Fire signs are not known for their patience for a reason. They don’t have any. But nothing in publishing happens quickly. Everything is at a pace slower than molasses uphill. If you aren’t a writer and you’re reading this, take whatever you are considering as slow, and then multiply that by about a hundred. That’s publishing. To top it off, novels take time. I can’t whip them out in a day. So it’s been every bit as important for me to cultivate patience with myself as it has with the things beyond my control. Anything else would lead to insanity.
3. Commit or go home.
My husband would not call this commitment. He calls it obsession. And he’s not completely wrong. Learning to sit still long enough to see something like writing a novel, and then shopping it, and then publishing it all the way through to the end is like its own branch of Buddhist meditation. There will be setbacks and rejections and revisions. And there are at any given moment at least a million good, solid reasons why you should not be doing this. All of which are perfectly acceptable to society at large. No one would blame you if you just said, to hell with it. In fact, in many cases, people may try to talk you out of your commitment. And in those moments, you have to stand alone and remind yourself why you started this in the first place and where you see it leading. Of course, whether it ever actually gets there or not isn’t always up to you. But even when your WIP derails somewhere along the publishing end of the track, at the very least, you have your commitment. You saw your end of the project through, and that’s something to be proud of.
4. Validate yourself.
I think all writers seek validation outside of themselves. It’s part of the writing disease. But receiving enough rejections to wallpaper a small guest room has a way of teaching you to give yourself what others won’t. Well, either that or it totally breaks your spirit. This may be the most important thing I’ve learned so far. Validating myself in every way, not just as a writer, has been the difference between a downward spiral of suffering and a life filled with joy. It’s something that comes up with my clients often. We have a tendency as human beings to project everything outside of ourselves and have it reflected back to us. When we seek outward validation, we want someone or something else to tell us that we are who we are. It took many years for me to finally realize I didn’t need an agent, or an editor, or an industry to tell me I am a writer, or even a good writer. I can tell myself that, and it’s critical that I do.
5. Write for love.
I mean this in two ways. First, you always hear the saying, write what you know. But I think there’s a better way to express it. Write what you love. I know a lot. At least I know a little about a lot. And most of that is not stuff I want to sit and write about for the next several months. But there are things I love, subjects I crave, topics I turn to again and again for inspiration. And those always find their way into my stories. This is key for that commitment factor I mentioned above. Just like it would be hard to commit to a partner or spouse you weren’t in love with, so too with writing or anything else. Commitment is easy when your heart is all in.
The second way is this—don’t write for money (you probably won’t make any, but will spend plenty) or fame (readers care about your characters more than you) or outward validation (I think we already covered this one) or anything else. Don’t write to change the world (it likely isn’t listening). Don’t write to feel important (you’ll just find out you’re not). Write because you love it and for no other reason. Write because every time you hear the sound of your own voice, you fall in love with yourself a little more. Write because your characters carry pieces of your soul. Anything less is an exercise in masochism.
Crystals for Writers:
Known for being able to blast through writer’s block, this amazing little crystal is stimulating in many ways, but a piece on your desk or near your laptop is sure to help you pound out those pages when a deadline is fast approaching. I like this one for sticking points: when I’m trying to get something going and don’t know where to start, when I’m lost somewhere in the middle of a novel and don’t know how to find my way to the ending I planned, or when I am wrapping something up and want to finish those last five chapters in one day. *Use precaution, vanadinite is a minor source of lead.
2. Lapis Lazuli
Lapis lazuli has been hailed as the “writer’s stone”. This amazing mineral combo contains pyrite and lazurite among other things, connecting the third eye chakra to the solar plexus and lower chakras. The third eye chakra is the seat of our wisdom, and it also houses our all-important faculties of imagination and vision. The solar plexus chakra is the seat of our power. When we connect these two energy centers, we’re able to manifest a powerful vision. This is exactly what many writers are doing day in and day out. So lapis lazuli is a natural writer’s companion.
This very grounding crystal is what I call my “get ‘er done” stone. Deadlines are part of the writer’s life, as is procrastination. Sometimes we need a little extra help moving things out of our head and onto the page (or computer screen). Hematite is great for helping you accomplish a lot in a little bit of time. Basically, it will nail your but to the chair until you manage to meet your goals.
This stone is like crystal truth serum, something all writers need. Even writing fiction, we’re infusing our stories with important truths—the truth of our experience, the truth of our heart, universal truths, and more. Amazonite connects the heart chakra, the seat of our love and empathy (all emotions are secondary to love, but that’s another blog!), to the throat chakra, the seat of our truth. This one crystal allows us to powerfully tap into and express the truth of our feelings and convictions, which is what brings any kind of writing to life.