So this seemed like a good time to talk about writers and disappointment. For while writing is one of the most rewarding pursuits in the world, publishing can be a long, slow, painful slog toward the pit of despair, and you can quickly find yourself in the soul sucking land of Major Disappointment. And guess what? This disappointment applies equally to pre-published, traditionally published, and indie published authors alike, so I guess that’s the upside: egalitarianism!
The Seven Stages of Publishing Grief
Stage One—Shock and Denial: This is where we still can’t quite believe it has happened to us, and are processing and flailing as our dreams begin to crumble.
Stage Two—Yearning and Anger: This is where we double down on those dreams and use our anger to fuel some changes. We tend to focus on the externals first. After all, they are much easier (and less painful) to address. And sometimes they are very legitimately the problem.
Stage Three—Pain and Guilt: This is the shoulda, woulda, coulda period. It is as filled with regrets as the night sky is with stars.
Stage Four—Anger and Bargaining: We recognize personal change is required, so we begin to look for changes we ourselves can make, but still tend to focus on surface level things.
Stage Five—Reflection: This is where disappointment—like other strong emotions—lets us finally turn inward so we can address the things we have in our control—the book, the writing, our own perceptions. It is the stage where we experience true grief, emotional despair, depression. This is where we have a long hard look at ourselves and start to reevaluate our dreams. Maybe take a hiatus or a sabbatical. A long, intense writer’s retreat. Something that give us some emotional distance and creative white space.
Stage Six—Reconstruction: This is where it hits us: If our current writing isn’t getting us the career or income we want, we need to change our writing. Or our goals.
Stage Seven—Resurrection: This is where you emerge from the flames, a different writer than when you first began. Maybe your new self has decided writing isn’t for you. It is perfectly okay to walk away from writing if it no longer feeds you or you recognize you were pursuing it for the wrong reasons. That’s not failing—that’s trying something and deciding it’s not for you.