Coffee Dates: Myers Briggs

Good Morning, Creatives!

Does anyone else need caffeine this morning? I do. Maybe not a straight cup of coffee or espresso, but I would not say no to a few cups of black tea with a little cream and honey. Just to get my brain moving in the right direction.

But! The weekend is near, O people of the pen, so take heart! We’re going to make it through!

Now, before I ask this week’s question, I want to clarify that I do not think any sort of test can put people in a box. We are created as beautiful, infinite beings with endless potential and ability to change. Our minds and our choices are our own, and what we decide to do with them shapes our brains.

However, sometimes the tests are fun. Personally, they make me laugh, and sometimes it really is fun to read through the descriptions and snicker over how close they came.

So, that said, today’s question is all about personality types! According to the Myers Briggs test, what is yours?

My Process

I am an INFJ, which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judgement. I have never been one to search too deeply into ‘societies definition’ of what that means, but for me, it means that I spend a great deal of time alone, I am incredibly empathetic and can almost always tell when someone is having an off-day—sometimes just by glancing across the room—and it takes me a very long time to connect with and trust someone.

I also have an enormous amount of patience for a long task, thus my writing career.

My Struggles Within That

I hate public events! Parties are the worst. Especially if I don’t have one person I can latch onto and dig into the deep parts of life with, instead of struggling through small talk. I hate talking about myself in job interviews and meet-and-greets, and I hate pitching my novels! But I do it. Because I am an adult, and I do things I don’t necessarily like to do.

Your Thoughts

What is your personality type? More than that, what do those four letters mean to you? Are you outgoing and the life of the party, but struggle to maintain lasting friendships? Do you write, but scream sometimes because you need human interaction? Do you, like me, HATE pitching your novel? Tell me about it in the comments!

A Writer’s Life: Waiting

No one likes to wait. Whether we’re in the movie theater, in line at the bank, or refreshing your email browser, no one enjoys that feeling. Some of us ease the wait by playing on our phones, bringing a book along, or daydreaming, but the result is the same.

Time wasted.

Stuck in a place we’d rather be, sometimes waiting for something we’d rather not do. It’s frustrating, it’s a bit of a pain, and as adults, writers, and creatives, it’s something we all have to put up with and learn to deal with in a healthy way. After all, publishing a book is alllllll about the waiting. Agents have hundreds of submissions to sift through. Publishers have queues of books to release before yours will be ready. Everything about this process is slow.

And slow is hard if your mindset is wrong.

Waiting

As frustrating and unproductive as waiting feels, it can be turned into valuable—even vital—time for a writer. Depending, of course, on our mindset while we wait.

Waiting can strengthen you as a writer—or it can undermine you.

Waiting—especially waiting for responses on queries, submissions, or feedback—can seriously undermine a writer’s confidence in themselves or their work. Questions crop up in the silence that we’d rather not face. Questions like, have I just made a complete fool of myself? Or, are they taking so long to reply because they totally hate it?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the waiting is where I get the most insecure about what I’ve sent in. If I let myself, I can get into the worst, most damaging funks while I wait, and I can forget about getting any writing done in the meantime.

How To Make It Happen

And yet, I still have to write. I still have to continue on. The world doesn’t stop because I’m waiting for someone to respond to an email or an agent to finish reading my query and respond.

If the writing stops while I wait, I’ve both wasted endless amounts of time and trained my mind to stop producing under stress.

Neither of those are good things.

So, I’ve learned to keep going. I do it with two truths, three tricks, and a moment of stillness.

Truth #1

Waiting isn’t empty time. It might feel like empty time, it might feel like an ‘in-between’, but it isn’t. How you choose to fill your ‘in-between’ moments will ultimately determine what kind of writer you are and how well you produce under pressure.

It isn’t empty time. It’s extra time. Valuable time. Time to write, time to learn, time to develop your skills.

Truth #2

Your attitude is everything. Your work will suffer or thrive depending on how you view the waiting—and if you’re stressed out, convinced that your work isn’t being valued, or spending the time complaining, you aren’t taking advantage of the precious time you have ahead of you.

Three Tricks

  1. Don’t waste the time. As a writer who is pressed for time—all the time—I do my best to keep from wasting all my time on stress. Especially when I’m waiting for a reply. (Which, incidentally, I am doing this week.) Instead of focusing on the waiting, I get things done. If I don’t have the creativity for stories, I write tweets, blog posts, do some graphic design. Anything to check tasks off my to-do list and use the time I have wisely.
  2. Don’t check obsessively. I am the absolute worst about this one. Email, Facebook, Twitter. When I’m waiting for something, I check and recheck and double-check just to be sure. And it has never once has made any difference in how quickly my replies come through. Sometimes it really is better to shelve your phone for a while and move on to something else.
  3. Enjoy right now instead of focusing on someday. Someday will come, and when it comes it will have its own set of frustrations, fears, and headaches. Deal with them when they come, not now. Right now, enjoy the fact that you have time to write, that you have a project to work on, and that—even in this world of nine-to-fives—you get to be creative. That’s a gift.

A Moment Of Stillness

Take a moment. Be still. Close your eyes, and ground yourself. Take joy in where you are, in this stage of your journey, in the moment.

There is no hurry.

No rush.

No overwhelming need to race through your journey.

It may be tomorrow. It may be in six months. Whatever the time frame, you are still on the way, and you are still far ahead of those people who have given up, or never had the courage to try.

So pause. Take a deep breath. Have a moment of stillness and continue on.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

What are you waiting for today? How are you using the in-between time to further yourself and your journey? Tell me about it in the comments, and stay tuned for next week, when we will be talking about faithfulness and the necessity of it in a writer’s journey.

A Solid Place

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One of my oldest and dearest friends got married this week.

I went to the wedding.

It was beautiful.

But, even though I am so, so happy for her and her new husband (who is amazing, by the way), it was also a very surreal experience for a lot of reasons.

For one, she is married. Like, to a husband. So weird. For another, my pregnant sister flew in from another state to attend the wedding. And it was the first time I’ve ever seen her pregnant. Like, ever. (Mostly because this is the first time she’s ever been pregnant.)

And last, but certainly not least, during the reception, I was surrounded by a crowd of people I had grown up with. All of them were adults now.

How weird is that?

I got introduced to boyfriends, talked to people about college and careers, and ended up with the very stunning realization that the world is moving on and things are changing.

Quite drastically.

Since this coincides with some pretty drastic changes in my own life, it left me feeling a little shaky. Remember that job that I mentioned last week? It starts on July 1st. Up until now, I’ve worked nanny jobs and anything else that would pay so that I could support my writing.

Now, I’m going to get paid to write.

And it’s going to be a huge change. It’s my first office job, it’s the first—regular—job I’ve had in my career field, and it’s the first full-time position I’ve ever accepted.

Since I write full-time anyway, I’m not too worried. But still—changes. Big changes. And not just in my life, but everywhere I look.

In case you didn’t know, I am a hermit. Big time. Like, way more than I ever expected to be when I was younger. I like my house, I like my routine, and I like things to be (mostly) the same, with a few moments of planned excitement along the way to spice things up. When I have great adventures, they are of a literary nature.

So when things start changing, I start to panic a little.

When that happens, I have to take a step back and remind myself of the places in my life that are still solid.

God is still my solid ground.

I still love him.

I am still a writer.

My family might be scattered to the four winds, but we still love each other.

And Mrs. Hudson (my cat) is still a grouch, thank goodness.

It’s good to know there are a few things in life that can always be counted on, even in the midst of embracing the changes.

Are things changing in your life, or do you have any wonderful tips for finding balance amidst the crazy? Tell me about it in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Night Owl or Early Bird

Good Morning, Creatives!

Can we just have a round of applause for those of us who made it through this week? Like, seriously, congratulations! It’s the weekend! We get to rest and write and read books!

Hopefully. Sometimes weekends get booked solid and life gets in the way. But we do our best.

That’s one of the reasons that I love writing in the morning so much. I’ve found over the years that I do my best writing between five and eight in the morning when the world is quiet and the sun is still rising.

Which leads to today’s question! Are you a night owl or an early bird?

My Process

I am definitely an early writer. I like to get up while it’s still gray and misty outside, switch on my fairy lights, and sit down with my kitty to read my bible before the sun rises. Then I go straight to the computer, and most mornings I can fly through 500-1000 words before I even get up for breakfast. Such a good feeling!

My Struggles Within That

Early mornings don’t always happen! Sometimes I really am too tired to move, and that snooze button on my alarm starts looking very nice. Other days, I can’t sleep in to save my life. 5:30 rolls around, and ding, my brain is awake and ready to go, no matter how I happen to feel about it. Sometimes—especially on vacation—it really would be nice to sleep in a bit!

Your Thoughts

What about you? Are you a morning writer, typing with the sunrise and enjoying an early cup of tea to welcome the new dawn? Or do you haunt the deepest watches of the night and compose your words by starlight and moonlight? Tell me about it in the comments!

A Writer’s Life: Rejection

I’m going to confess something.

My portfolio of rejection letters is still in the double digits. Under twenty, I think. Maybe even under fifteen.

Probably under fifteen.

Small potatoes, right? Of course, that’s not including the number of queries I’ve had go out that were simply . . . ignored. I actually had a mini celebration the first time my query letters started getting replies. They were rejections, but the agent/publisher at least took me seriously enough to say no instead of ignoring my existence completely.

A step forward, right?

Rejection

Unfortunately, it’s a step forward into learning to be okay with ‘no’. And, when my book has been the better part of my life in the last seven years, ‘no’ is hard to swallow.

Nothing stings like a rejection letter when what you’ve offered is your heart and soul.

Our books are important to us. We’ve put endless hours of work into them, slaved over ‘perfect’ sentences, and revised our query letter until it makes us want to scream with exasperation. We want a ‘yes, absolutely!’, not another ‘no’.

Unfortunately, ‘yes’ isn’t always an option. And no matter how many rejections we get, they always sting.

How To Make It Happen

Rejection is always a discouraging thing, and too often, it deflates whatever day it happens to arrive on. Writing after that feels particularly impossible, and it’s easy to waste the whole day—or week—in feeling dejected.

But rejections are also a necessary part of writing, and because they are so necessary, we have to learn how to deal with them in a way that’s not going to leave us drowning in discouragement. Part of it, of course, is developing a thick skin for criticism. The rest is having the right perspective about rejection and developing tools to keep yourself moving and encouraged.

I do it with two truths, three tricks, and one long breath.

Truth #1

It’s not us against them. Agents are not out to ruin your day. Publishers are not against you as a person. They are simply looking for the right books to move their own business and career forward. If something isn’t right for them, they’re going to pass on it—either because they themselves aren’t excited about it or because they don’t think they can sell it. They don’t hate you. They don’t hate your writing. This a business and they are making business-minded decisions.

As the author, you also need to need to view it as a business rather than a personal project. When you do, it will take a bit of the sting out.

Truth #2

The wrong agent/publisher is so, so much worse than no agent or publisher. You do not want someone working on selling your book who doesn’t love it or have a vision for it. If they don’t care, they won’t convince anyone else to care either.

Writer, not everyone loves the same books. Agents are readers too, and they have likes and dislikes. They don’t want to be working on a project that they aren’t passionate about, and you don’t want them working without passion.

If they so no, let it be, and be glad they didn’t agree reluctantly just to boost their numbers.

Three Tricks

  1. Celebrate the failures. This one sounds silly, but look at where you are. You’re querying! Hopefully, that means you have a polished manuscript and a competent knowledge of your own story. Every failure is only a step to success, so be thankful for the rejections. You’re that much closer to an acceptance.
  2. Don’t set all your hopes on one person. Yes, that one agent sounded perfect for what you wanted, or that one publisher would be exactly what you wanted. But there are so many agents and so many publishers. If you put all your hopes into that one person, you’re going to be crushed when they don’t see how perfect it would be and reject it.
  3. Try again. You only fail when you stop trying. Keep a few queries out all the time so that you always have a few hopes left. Rejections are less final and less fatal when you still have a few others to hope for.

One Long Breath

Writer, let it sting. Count to five, close your eyes, and let it hurt. A hope died, and it was painful. You are allowed to mourn for it, allowed to be sad, allowed to take a moment.

Then take one long deep breath and let it go.

Move on. There are other publishers, other agents, other magazines. You have more opportunities ahead of you, and you will find your niche. Dwelling on the rejections will end with discouragement, disillusionment, and dumped manuscripts. You have a place. Adjust where necessary, listen to feedback, and continue on.

Focus on that one long deep breath, and continue with your dream.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

What are some of the ways that you deal with rejection in your writing journey? Tell me about it in the comments, and stay tuned for next week, when we will be discussing waiting and how best to embrace it in your writing journey.

Living Courageously

I have a confession to make.

I have been keeping secrets from y’all.

Big secrets. Secret secrets.

Some of them are so big and so secret that I can’t even tell you about them yet. (I promise I will soon.)

But I can tell you the first one today.

About a month ago, I got dressed up and went into town for a job interview. My third interview with this particular company, in fact.

A third interview is a big deal, guys. There’s a lot of pressure. And a lot of people to impress. Especially if you want the job as much as I did. So, the whole 45 minute drive into town—I’ve mentioned I live in the middle of absolutely nowhere—I was praying. And worshiping. And reciting scripture. And basically doing anything and everything I knew how to do to keep my anxiety from bursting out and swallowing me whole before I got to the interview.

Because it’s really not a good first impression when you’re visibly panicking while trying to greet people and hold a conversation.

I made it all the way to the parking lot before I started to freak out. Actually, I made it onto the sidewalk.  Like, I made it far. Cause I’m a warrior, y’all. The trouble was, I still had to go inside and actually make it through the interview, which, considering the previous interviews, could have gone anywhere from an hour to two hours.

Which, for an introvert, is a long time to smile and talk to people.

Do you know what ended up giving me courage? You’re going to laugh.

It was Kate DiCamillo, and her wonderful, wonderful book, The Tale of Despereaux.

Specifically, this line:

“Once upon a time,” he said out loud to the darkness. He said those words because they were the best, the most powerful words that he knew and just the saying of them comforted him.

I said it to myself as I went through the doors, and while I smiled and talked with the receptionist, and while I sat and waited for my interviewer to come and retrieve me.

Once upon a time.

Once upon a time.

She was right. Just the saying of them comforted me.

In case you’re wondering, I made it into the interview without panicking. And I sat and talked with twelve people all at once, several of whom had skyped in so they could get a look at me. I smiled and answered questions and asked semi-intelligent ones myself, and when it was over I walked out feeling courageous.

For an introvert who, ten years ago, couldn’t look an adult—or almost anyone else—in the eyes, that was pretty brave.

And yes, after a month of waiting with bated breath, they offered me the job. So how’s that for courageous?

What is something particularly courageous that you have done lately? Brag to me in the comments! I’d love to hear about it!

Coffee Dates: Favorites

Good Morning, Creatives!

How was the week? Anyone make it all the way through? I hope so, because I have such a fun question for you all this week, and it would be a shame to waste it on empty space because all of my friends got flattened by adult responsibilities.

So, here’s to hoping that didn’t happen.

This week’s question is about favorites! Writers have so many different caps they have to wear, but I personally would be lying if I didn’t have one or two that I favored above the rest.

My Process

Everyone has their own favorite part of the writing process! I personally love description and building new worlds out of pen and paper. I put on music, usually something from Two Steps From Hell, and give myself as much time as I need to explore the new surroundings and see everything I need to see before I try to put anything on paper. It’s an adventure every time, and it’s a huge part of what I love about writing. We writers get to visit such extraordinary places!

My Struggles Within That

I am a chronic overwriter! My editor is always despairing over it. I have to limit myself to only a few especially beautiful settings within a single book, when I would much rather explore every single room in the castles, every single dungeon, and every single deep wooded hollow I come across.

I’m learning to keep to the settings that really matter to the story, but sometimes I definitely run away with myself.

Your Thoughts

What is your favorite part of being a writer? Do you love your characters? Suspense? Stunning plot twists? Descriptions and intrigue? Tell me about it in the comments!