Writers on Writing:
I have the worst Writer’s FOMO and here’s how I’m dealing with it
by Kelly deVos
Earlier this week, I was online perusing the list of prizes for KidLitForTransRights auction. This was a wonderful event designed to raise money for Trans LifeLine, The Trevor Project and other fantastic charities with many writers coming together to donate ARCs, books, manuscript reads and more.
At first, I was having fun checking out the prizes. Until I realized that I wanted ALL the prizes. All. The. Prizes. If I could afford to bid on all the prizes, everything might have been fine, but I have a teenager in need of school uniforms, braces and driving lessons so I only had a small budget to participate in the auction. I realized that I’d spent more than an hour clicking around without bidding on anything, unable to make a decision
I had auction FOMO. The fear that by bidding on one prize, I’d be missing out on another.
In daily life, I rarely experience FOMO. I tend to be pretty happy with my life and life choices. But last year, as a debut author, I felt in a constant state of FOMO, perpetually worried about doing more, getting more and being more in the world of publishing. I’m trying to make 2019 a FOMO-free zone and I’m sharing my strategies in case you are too.
Here are the many forms of my Writer’s FOMO and what I am doing about them:
What it is: The fear of missing out on all the upcoming book releases
Everyone who knows me, knows that I’m a bit of an ARC hoarder. I love to read new and upcoming releases. Last year, I was on so many ARC tours that the post office employees and I were on a first name basis. But no one can read everything and I am not always able to secure every ARC out there.
What I am doing now: I’ve compartmentalized my reading list for 2019, making a list of things I hope I can get as an ARC, what I plan to buy and what I will borrow from the library. The simple act of acknowledging that I won’t read many books until they are released has made me feel so much better when I see the latest ARC in my Twitter timeline.
What it is:The fear of missing out on all the great marketing materials out there.
As a debut author, I didn’t make tote bags, magnets, coffee mugs, custom candles, lip glosses, nail polishes or Book Beaus, although I saw other authors with all of those things. Sometimes, I would wake up in a panic wondering, “Do I need my own custom t-shirts?”
What I am doing now: First of all, I remind myself how fortunate I am to have an amazing team at my publisher working hard on my behalf. Then I remind myself of one of the best pieces of advice that I have received. Do what’s fun.What’s not fun is driving myself nuts ogling other writers’ swag and going into debt trying to reproduce what they’ve done. For my next book (DAY ZERO coming 11/12/19), I’ve made a short list of a few items I know I can afford that that I think would be fun to have. If I start feeling worried about my swag, I’m going to take a nice walk around the block to chill out.
What it is: The fear of missing out on conferences and book events
I was lucky to get to go to a few events and conferences last year and I had amazing time. But on social media, I saw pics of every event. And they all looked fun and full of opportunities to meet writers and readers and librarians and teachers. But time and money are finite resources and I can’t go to all the events, even if I feel I’d like to.
What I am doing now: I’m forcing myself to think about the reality of constantly being gone at EVERY book conference. I would miss my family. I would be exhausted. I would be behind in my work and in my life. I force myself to remember the way that my shoulder gets so sore after I’ve been dragging my laptop around for a while. Also, I’m trying to put together a small budget to go to one conference so that I have something fun to look forward to. I’m hoping that combining a realistic plan to go to somethings with a realistic assessment of the difficulties of huge amounts of travel will keep the FOMO away.
What it is: The fear of missing out on having your work adapted for the screen
The last few months feel like everyone I know has gotten a movie adaptation deal. Which is awesome! I hope some of these people remember me when!! I am available for premieres and Live Tweets! But in the meantime, I am over here living the reality of the fact that most books don’t get tapped for movie adaptations.
What I am doing now: I’m reminding myself that feeling envious is a normal human emotion. Sometimes, the necessary response to that feeling is the need to take a break from social media. I plan to take a couple of short breaks from social media throughout 2019 to relax and recharge.
Someone Else is Getting More FOMO
What it is: The fear of missing out on all the things that other people are getting
During my debut year, I got such amazing support from my publisher, other writers and my family. But there is always someone getting MORE. Someone winning more awards or doing more events or getting more attention.
What I am doing now: I’m celebrating all the little successes and remembering how much I like to write. When I first started, all I wanted to do was finish one manuscript and find at least one person willing to read it. I still vividly recall the feeling of attending my critique group’s first meeting and realizing that four people had actually read something I wrote! Combat the FOMO by remembering your love for the craft and by reflecting on what you have accomplished. Were you able to keep writing even though 2018 was a challenging year? Have you finished a manuscript? A chapter? A page? We are writers and that is something to celebrate.
Psychology Today writes, “Needs are limited. Desires are endless. Accepting the essential futility of trying to fulfill every desire we have is much wiser than indulging all of our impulses for gratification. Prioritizing certain activities enables us to let go of others.”
For me, that’s the essence of what I need to do in 2019 – spend more time appreciating what I have than thinking about what I don’t. I know this might get tough at times, but I genuinely plan to make 2019 a FOMO-free year.
Do you have Writer’s FOMO? If so, I’d love to hear what you are doing about it!
About Kelly deVos
Kelly deVos is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a BA in creative writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, is available now wherever books are sold. Kelly is an AYAP Team Member.
About DAY ZERO (Coming 11/12/19 from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins)
Fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew Itseries and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Waveseries will cheer for this fast-paced, near-future thrill ride.
If you’re going through hell…keep going.