One of the pitfalls I've encountered lately is discouragement. It's tied to the professional jealousy thing, but it's not jealousy exactly. Oh there's a touch of envy, but it's more a combination of frustration and depression.
Writers all around you are doing a happy dance as they announce the sale of their first, third or millionth book but you just received another rejection. You enter contests for feedback and the responses (in terms of scores and comments) are a bit tough to swallow. I feel your pain, cause I've been there. Recently.
I was ready to throw my manuscript under the bed (metaphorically - cause it's a computer file), and move on but then...miracle of miracles...I received a request for a full. It's not a sale, but it happened at EXACTLY the right time. And why? Because I kept going. I felt like crap. Like I wanted to just give in... Then I got a tiny bit of validation. I pray someone will offer me a contract as a result, but now I'm not quite so depressed.
So, how do you keep going when you feel like you're in a very deep hole and the sides are caving in on you? I don't know. No, really. It varies for each of us. I need my friends to tell me my stuff isn't crap and encourage me to keep going. I'm fortunate that my friends usually pony up and do exactly that. Sometimes, I just need one person to say, "Hey, this is pretty good." Once I hear those words, I'm ready to rumble.
If you don't receive a bit of validation, think about things that give you joy. Then do them. It's not a sin to take a break from your writing if you need to take a deep breath. Go ahead and take a break. Read a book. Go for a drive in the country. Play with your kids or your pets. Make love with your lover. Whatever inspires you...do it.
I'm trying hard to follow my own advice because I haven't spent a lot of time writing lately. Unfortunately, I've been feeling guilty about it. However, this month I have a darn good excuse. I bought a house and I'm moving. Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm moving, not writing - unless I feel like it. Keep your fingers crossed that I accomplish both!
So, when you start feeling discouraged, how do you fight the writing blahs? Please post a comment. I need all the help I can get. :-)