This week in my accountability group’s How I Write series we were asked, “Every writer goes through ups and downs. What do you do to keep positive about what you’re working on?” I chose to interpret this as “How do you focus on staying positive despite rejection?” Because, we writer’s know, there are different forms of rejection that must be faced and overcome on a regular basis.
Staying Positive Despite Rejection from Our Selves
This is the hardest one for me. I am definitely my own worst critic. So, how do I deal with this?
- Work with a timer.
- This gives me something to beat. It’s that competitive streak. Also, I know I have to write until the timer goes off, but then I get a quick break.
- Stuff the internal editor in a box.
- Ok, so some days the visualization is more like stuffing her into an iron-bound chest and shipping her off to Timbuktu, but I’m sure you get the idea. She’s NOT welcome for first drafts.
- Reread Old Stuff
- Yup, pull out that ms that’s been hidden with the dust bunnies under the bed and see just how far my writing’s come. Who would ever start with a daydream where the heroine’s looking in a mirror. Cringe and be glad you’re not that writer any more.
- Revisit the Praise
- Reread some of the good comments from feedback from crit partners, beta readers and contest judges.
Staying Positive Despite Rejection from Our Peers
Writing is often a solitary pursuit, but many don’t think you should remain completely in a vacuum for the entire process. It took me a long time to build the confidence to show my work to others. When I did, I told myself that I wanted the feedback and that it wasn’t personal and that the people giving the advice wanted the same thing I did, to improve the story.
- Take what you can use, and ignore what doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work. It’s your book/story/etc, don’t write by committee. But do remind yourself that people have the story’s best interests in mind. Sometimes, when you come back to it later, you may see the comments from a different perspective.
- Again, you’re not going to please everyone, but save off the stuff you do well and sift through for the useful stuff. Remind yourself that people have the story’s best interests in mind.
- I’m not lucky enough to be in this boat yet, but I’d like to think I could handle truthful ones.
- This is a more general space. This could be in email, on your blog, or even facebook or twitter.
- Let It Sit
- This is good for all of the above: read it, let it sting, bask in the praise, whatever. Then, put it away! Come back to it at least a day or two later and look at it with a fresh perspective.
Staying Positive Despite Rejection from the Industry
I don’t have a lot of experience with the publishing industry beyond querying some agents and editors, but here’s what I’ve learned so far and from watching others go through similar situations.
- Hit Send & Move On
- After hitting send, I try to jump into the next project and ignore the fact that it’s out there.
- What’s the worst they can say?
- No, right? Ok, there are probably worse ways they could phrase that “no thanks”, but really, it’s not personal. Move on to the next person on your list. Besides, you’re liable to get pleasantly surprised with a “yes!” at some point.
- It’s all Subjective!
- Look at how many books/movies/tv shows/paintings/photographs/dances/sculptures that you’ve either loved or hated. Or even just been “meh” over. Everyone has their own tastes and no two people will ever read the same book.
- Keep Going/Keep Learning
- This may sound similar to the first one, but it’s more specific. Keep practicing, don’t stop if it’s something you love. I don’t know who originally said it, but I love the quote, “Failure leads to success (unless you quit trying.)”. So true.
Your Turn: What do you do to keep positive about what you’re working on?
And if you’d like to read what the rest of my accountability group is expanding out their comfort zones, you can find their blogs here: