We've all been there. Opening a long-awaited email to find yet another 'no' waiting for us. That contest we thought was perfect for us ending in defeat. Negative voices telling us we're no good and we might as well quit.
Let's face it, writing is not for the faint of heart. It takes strength, courage, and commitment--and the longer we find ourselves hitting the brick wall of rejection (whether that's in the form of queries, submissions, beta reads, or our own inner voice), the more we start to lose all three.
I don't know about you, but I'm often guilty of letting rejection turn my beautiful day into a disaster. It's like when you're successfully dieting and suddenly you find you've eaten half a pan of brownies in one sitting. Are you going to focus on those ten pounds you've lost or on the fact that you've just blown your diet? Okay, so maybe it's not exactly the same thing, but my point is, most times we're compelled to fixate on our failures instead of our successes.
This is a tough business. Overnight success is extremely rare. Just like getting in shape, we have to train ourselves to be in it for the long haul. If we give up too soon, we run the risk of never knowing what could have been. We have to work on building up our strength so we can take the hit of rejection and still keep moving forward.
So, how do we do that?
1. BE TRUTHFUL to your writing, your goals, and most importantly, yourself. Never write something that's not uniquely you. It will always show, and I can guarantee you won't enjoy what you're doing. Next, make sure any goal you set for yourself is realistic. Telling yourself you're going to write 5,000 words in one day when you've only got a half an hour of free time will only lead to disappointment. And lastly, always be honest with why you're doing what you're doing. As a writer, the only thing in our control is our story; everything else is out of our hands. If you're only writing for that six-figure book deal, maybe it's time to examine your heart and see if it's in the right place.
2. BE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS with your creativity. I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, which is all about freeing your creativity from fear, and one of the quotes she mentions in the book that really stuck with me is, "Argue for your limitations and you'll get to keep them." Wow. Such a simple statement, but so powerful. How many times have I told myself 'I can't, I can't, I can't' and found myself staring at a blank page at the end of the day? Don't let ANYTHING hold you back from doing what you love and creating the story YOU want to tell.
3. COUNT IT ALL JOY even when it's hard. And yes, I realize how tough this one is. There have been times in my life when writing has felt more like a root canal than anything remotely resembling fun. But even though exercise touts the whole "no pain, no gain" mentality, writing shouldn't be painful. Instead of saying, "I have to write today," try saying, "I get to write today!" If we can love what we're doing each and every day (even on the days when the words aren't flowing and our characters aren't cooperating), we'll be in a much better (and stronger!) frame of mind when those rejections start rolling in.
Stay strong and keep writing!