As writers, we’ve been told time and time again that we need to develop thick skins, deal with criticism constructively, persevere in the face of a thousand rejection slips. And we’ve all heard the stories of how many well-known authors were turned down by countless editors, only to later publish a best seller.
But the reality for most of us is this: Success is hard to measure in the world of fiction writing, and it’s up to you to create a realistic measure for yourself. Take a minute to examine your ultimate goals and determine how to stay focused and positive during the difficult process of submitting your writing.
Do you feel you’ll be a failure if you don’t produce the next great American novel, or if you publish only 7 poems instead of the 50 you promised yourself? If your happiness is tied up in reaching certain goals, maybe it’s time for some reevaluation. Sure, Sylvia Plath’s genius was inextricably tied to her despair and depression, but for the most part, a dejected, deflated writer will produce dejected, deflated writing. It’s time to take charge of your happiness so you can take charge of your writing.
Explore your inner voice. This is the voice inside your head, orchestrating your thoughts and progress. If it says, You’re not good enough, how can it not affect your writing? Be kind to yourself. If you’re new to writing, change not good enough to learning the ropes. If you’ve been at it for years and are still hitting a wall, take a good hard look at the critiques and suggestions you’ve received. Take a class, try a new genre, explore writing groups that offer solid advice and constructive criticism. Above all, put aside your ego long enough to really hear what experts say about your writing.
What would make you happy? An angry, pessimistic, irritable writer may hang all his or her hopes for happiness on publication. But chances are that if this writer gets published, he or she will simply become an angry, pessimistic, and irritable author with a publication credit. It’s kind of like winning the lottery—you may suddenly have a million dollars, but the problems in your life are still there: You’re still afraid of spiders, still estranged from your grown children, still suffering from heartburn, and the cat still throws up on the carpet nearly every day. The process of writing should be a joy in itself. Publication is the icing on the cake.
Are you being realistic? Get-rich schemes don’t work, and magical shortcuts to publication don’t exist. Writing takes time to develop, like a good wine develops depth and character with age. This doesn’t mean that you have to be in a nursing home to finally reach your goals, but looking for instant gratification won’t help either. Patience, persistence, constant and well-targeted submissions—these are what will move you toward your publishing goal.
Set yourself up with small, reachable steps, and celebrate the completion of each one. I will work on my synopsis for half an hour. I will get a good night’s sleep so I can work on a poem early in the morning while everyone sleeps. I will let the machine take my calls for the next two hours, and I will eat a healthy lunch for energy. I will identify the problem with my antagonist and fix it. Each step leads to the next, and the path will slowly unfold before you.
At Writer’s Relief we know how difficult the submission process can be for creative writers. For more tips on staying positive and dealing with rejection, check out our E-book, Rejoice in Rejection. Our submission service targets the markets best-suited for your work, and we see rejection slips as positive proof that our writers are moving forward in the publishing industry (our clients also see an above average number of acceptance letters as well!). Since 1994 we’ve been compiling records of literary agents’ and editors’ personal preferences and keeping abreast of changes in the literary market, all to give our clients the best chance for getting their writing published.