When you get surprise smacked by giant surprise obstacles is something that every author will deal with now and again, here is how to get through it. 

“Knowledge is power, and it can help you overcome any fear of the unexpected. When you learn, you gain more awareness through the process, and you know what pitfalls to look for as you get ready to transition to the next level.”

Jay Shetty

When it comes to big, giant, surprise obstacles being thrown smack dab in the middle of your path, attitude is everything.

In last week’s grad school adventures, I got a major test, not the exam kind, but a test of my perception of myself as a prepared and organized person. On Sundays in my qualitative research class, we receive a checklist of all the week’s work.

Last week I completely underestimated one of the tasks on the list. Somehow my interesting and special brain translated “course” into “certification” and I concluded – “Eh, no big deal, I’ll get certified on Friday.” Even now I have no idea what I thought that meant.

So I carried on with my week and on Friday, registered on the course website to be “certified” (in what I have no idea).

Surprise Smacked!

There on the website, was what I estimated to be an approximately TWELVE hour long task waiting for me. A task that was due by the end of the day Saturday.

Soooo…. There goes Friday and Saturday (in my back-to-back task scheduled world).

As a psychology major, this is the part where I entered into the stages of loss.

Denial: Maybe the task wouldn’t actually take me 12 hours? Maybe some of the modules would be like – express modules.

Anger: How dare my professor not leave a note on the checklist, warning us about the extent of the task??? This was of course a totally irrational thought since hand holding and coddling is absolutely not her job. I promptly redirected the anger at myself for not figuring all this out on Sunday instead of Friday.

Bargaining: Dear grad school gods – make these modules magically shorter and I will never mess with your magical-ness ever again!

Depression: This is going to take longer, maybe even longer than 12 hours, and now I’m sad about life.

Acceptance: Finally – it is what it is so I guess I’d better find the value in this experience.

This was the most productive choice in the cycle because once I settled in and began engaging with, even enjoying, what I was learning in the modules, time flew by. And before I knew it – mission accomplished, course completed! Like a giddy kid, I printed out my dorky course completion certificate and posted it on the fridge.

What does this have to do with you as an author?

The road to becoming a published author is filled with surprises – all sorts of surprises, good and less good. This is especially true as you get closer and closer to your launch date when more and more people and moving parts are involved, and “Murphy’s Law of Publishing” tends to go into effect (hey I don’t make the cosmic rules, I just report on them to you).

My best advice when you get surprise smacked by obstacles, is to breathe, try and go with the flow, and don’t get stuck in frustration when things do not go as planned. With big creative projects, things rarely go as planned.

Similar to how I did last week, cycle through the stages of loss (of your dream of a perfect creative project) as quickly as possible. In acceptance, find growth, lessons, peace, and opportunities.

Follow your gut instinct about how and where you are willing to compromise and where you are not. Resist the urge to fight the events that are overtaking you and stay focused on the big picture (because what you’re working toward is awesome!).

How can you embrace the unexpected, fight the urge to resist your circumstances, and find the happy surprises in the process?

Which part of the road to becoming a published author are you most concerned about? Let’s chat so I can answer your questions and provide you with resources and referrals as needed! 

Related Articles:

Demystifying Book Writing Obstacles

How to Power Through 4 Common Book Writing Obstacles

Prepping for Writing Habit Disruptions


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