Underdog Writers: How To Come Back In The Second Half And Win The Game

by | May 9, 2011 | Creative Writing Craft and Techniques, Inspiration And Encouragement For Writers, The Writing Life | 0 comments

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Deadline: Thursday, December 16th

Imagine: You’re the quarterback of the team that’s losing the Super Bowl. It’s halftime and you, your team members, and the coach are struggling to feel inspired. There are thousands of people in the stands, and millions more watching from home.

Part of you feels like quitting. But you don’t quit. You and your teammates go back out and play the best game you can—and you win!

Sometimes, being an author can feel like being that football player: Publishers and literary agents are the opposition; readers are audience members rooting for the other team; and rejection letters are your sore muscles that keep slowing you down.

But just as football games can be won in the second half, writers can be successful after periods of struggle and discouragement.

If you are feeling like you’re behind in the second half, keep reading for some tips on how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and come back for the win.

1) Get Inspired

Read something you love—an old favorite you haven’t looked at for a while—and consider the multitude of issues that the author faced leading up to publication. Chances are, he or she had similar bouts of writer’s block, discouraging feedback, and general disappointments along the way—yet here you are reading his or her work. There is always hope!

Did you know that “Dr. Seuss,” the wildly popular children’s author, was rejected by 27 publishers before a friend published his first book? Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone With The Wind was rejected 38 times.

Do yourself a favor and run a quick Internet search for quotes from rejection letters sent to now-famous authors. You’re not the only one to ever receive a stinging rejection—rarely has an author been published on the very first try. Each rejection brings you closer to publication!

Read more: Jump-Starting The Muse

2) Make A List

Take a break from “working” on your writing. Instead, make a list of all the reasons you picked up a pen (or started typing) in the first place. Hard work can feel even harder when you’ve lost sight of your goals, so refresh your memory.

You used to love writing, remember? You used to feel excited when you thought about seeing your published book on the store shelf with your name on the spine. Let go of the stress, and tell that black cloud over your head to quit raining on your dream!

Read more: Five Things You Can Do—This Week—To Become A Better Writer

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3) Do Your Homework

Maybe you’ve grown weary because you have exaggerated expectations. Check some facts and statistics, and you may realize that you’re doing much better than you thought!

At Writer’s Relief, we remind our clients that on average it takes 100 submissions to achieve a single acceptance! Are you being too hard on yourself? If you haven’t sent out 100 appropriately targeted submissions, keep submitting!

4) Beat Writer’s Block

If writer’s block is your nemesis, try writing exactly what you’re thinking—without thinking. Try one of the following methods:

  • Diary/Stream of Consciousness: My brain is working against me, sometimes I feel so frustrated and question myself, and other times I feel so inspired…
  • Rant: I hate reality TV! Whatever happened to quality programming?! If I have to sit through one more jungle obstacle course or singing contest, I’m going to scream!
  • Gratitude: My friends really came through for me last week when my car broke down. I can’t believe Sarah picked me up in the middle of the night.

Chances are, you’ll eventually reach a place where the words start flowing, and it will feel more like creative writing than a creative writing exercise. When you stop, you’ll have at least one of two great things: a shining tidbit of spectacular writing and a great start for something new OR no more blank page!

Maybe you didn’t write anything superb, but you conquered the blank page and that should build your confidence. You stared down that intimidating white expanse, and you demolished it for the winning point. Give yourself a pat on the back!

Remember that most of the things you are going through are universal experiences for authors. The road to publication can be difficult, but the authors who reach their goals are the ones who keep playing their best game regardless of which half they’re in. It’s never too late to make that touchdown!

Read More: Five Signs You May Be Sabotaging Your Writing Career.

QUESTION: Do you have any great tips or inspirational stories about getting back in the game?

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