In this continuing series, I will show you how not to give a fuck about your book rejections, bad reviews, and disappointing sales. Please see the table of contents at the bottom of this post for more in this series.
I love meditation. Just when I’m about to rip the couch to shreds because Scrivener refuses to compile a book the way I tell it to or scream because I got a one-star review out of nowhere, I take a moment to count to ten. Really. I stop everything, close my eyes, and count to ten, preferably out loud so other people know not to approach me. I know it’s cliche, but it works, and it’s the simplest form of meditation there is. Closing your eyes and cutting yourself off from the moment, shutting down the screaming in your head, is your first step towards meditation. It’s just the beginning. When you’re on the edge and ready to either cry or whip out a sword and chop heads off, meditation is your friend.
There are a lot of scientific and holistic benefits to meditation. It’s not just for authors about to lose their cool! If you just Google “health benefits of meditation” you’ll find hundreds of reasons why it’s good for you. This article on WebMD cites such benefits as lowered blood pressure, a healthier immune system, and stress reduction, all of which we need to conquer that next revision or that next sales promotion. I have found that meditating in the evening before bed helps me sleep better. Sometimes I meditate in the afternoon in lieu of a nap. I use it to recharge my batteries and prepare for the evening when I will, doubtless, do more work and juggle my kids’ homework and dinner all at the same time. (Did I say being a self-published author is stressful? Hmmm. Well, it is.)
I have a few suggestions on how to meditate:
1) Close out all the things causing you stress – Turn off Scrivener or Word or whatever you use to write. Close the Goodreads tab. Quit your mail program. Set your phone to silent. And walk away. Yep. Walk away. Don’t try to compile again. Don’t look at the reviewer’s profile to determine how crazy they may or may not be. Don’t return that hate email. Just walk away. If you can step outside and get a breath of fresh air, that’s even better. By putting some distance between you and the thing that makes you want to rage or cry, you’re giving your body the space it needs to calm down and meditate. It’s the first step in every part of this series, actually, so pay attention!
2) Choose your preferred method of meditation and get to it – If you can’t meditate because you have kids swarming around your feet, choose another calming activity like coloring with them. If you can’t meditate because you’re at work, head to the bathroom and sit in the stall for three minutes. If you can meditate, do it right away. I have a few iPhone apps (I’m sure they make them for every device) I like from Andrew Johnson I can listen to if I have 20 minutes and time for a nap (because they put me to sleep every time). If I don’t have that time, I watch Bob Ross painting videos on YouTube. No joke. Something about his hair and the sound of his voice and those landscapes puts me in a good mood every time. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.
3) Have a snack or a shower – Anger and then meditation always lower my blood sugar. A snack will put me in a better place to tackle my next task. If I’m still a bit hot under the collar, I take a shower. Not only does the shower put me at a distance from the thing irritating me, it also has a calming effect on all the senses due to the steam, the sound of the shower, the monotony of the shower stall, etc. I spend a lot of time in there either winning arguments with people in my head or I get great ideas! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fixed a plot hole in a book with a good shower. Not only is the shower a great place to meditate, it’s a great place to return to square one. I, usually, come out feeling better about the world.
4) Don’t go back to the activity that caused the breakdown when you’re done – Once you’ve cleansed yourself (either by meditation or shower or both), move on. If the problem was task related, ask for help or Google before tackling it again. If the problem was someone else’s opinion of your work, tell them SILENTLY IN YOUR BRAIN to go fuck themselves and don’t give them your time or energy again. Don’t say that out loud or you’ll be in a whole heap of trouble. Keep those thoughts to yourself.