I did it.
I turned in the first round of revisions on my debut novel. Without spiraling. Without losing sleep.
All I’d ever heard about writing under contract was that it was absolute torture, psychological warfare to the tenth degree. Agonizing. Anxiety-inducing. Almost impossible.
So when I finally got my edit letter, I’m not going to lie, I. was. scared.
But I didn’t have the luxury of procrastinating. I didn’t have the time to doubt. I just had to do it.
So I made a plan thanks to some amazing resources shared by Julie C. Dao on the Publishing Crawl website, I read through the manuscript and made my list of changes, then I set goals for my first pass. I took a four-day break before setting goals for my second pass. And then I just chiseled away at it.
Some scenes were really difficult to write and I saved those for days when I was operating at 100%. Some problems lacked clear solutions and I kept looping back to them until something clicked. Some days it was tedious and emotionally taxing. Others, the words poured out. But every time I got stuck and that voice crept in, whispering that I was never going to figure things out, that I was never going to get it right, I swatted it away. I did not allow those doubts to fester. I did not allow myself to give up.
Because I wanted so badly to prove to myself that I could do the work, that I could meet expectations, that I could survive in this industry for the long haul. That’s what these revisions were really about for me. Knowing that this isn’t still some pipe dream. Knowing that I have the discipline and the stamina and the creativity to sustain an entire career.
I needed to know that the pressure wouldn’t destroy me.
And when it didn’t, I learned something even more important about myself. That I was no longer interested in sacrificing my mental health in order to achieve. This process was going to have to work alongside rest and self-care. There would be no all-nighters. No writing while sick. So I paced myself, anticipating days of rest, scheduling grocery deliveries, and planning meals. Doing whatever I needed to in order to take care of myself so that I would actually be well enough to create.
I thought this first experience writing under contract would teach me all of the practical things I needed to know like how to manage my time, how to create a plan for revisions, how to interpret editorial feedback. Instead, it taught me that what I really need to practice is setting boundaries. Because the work will always be difficult. There will always be that sense of urgency to stay up all night. There will always be that self-doubt making me question every word. But those thoughts can come and go. If I let them. If I let them go.
And letting go is not easy. It’s terrifying.
But when I am lighter, when I don’t have my destiny in a death grip, the things I want are more inclined to come. The words show up, the fear fades, and I’m not so afraid of failing.