When life hands you lemons, do you make lemonade or a scrunchy, sour face? As writers, do you let the long hours, the isolation, and the rejection letters get you down? Or do you embrace every part of being a writer with the power of gratitude?
There are many benefits to focusing on the positive side of the writing life, and they’re not just mental perks. Your attitude can make you a better writer AND improve your career track.
Three Ways To Make The Power Of Gratitude Work For You
1. Say thank you. As a professional writer, you have worked hard to build publication credits. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your writing, and you’re no shirker when it comes to accepting constructive criticism and making revisions.
Your author website is up-to-date and professional, and you carefully market yourself through social media and other venues. You’ve endured months of waiting for editors and literary agents to respond to your queries, and you don’t let rejection get you down.
But have you said thank you?
If you have had the joy of having a poem, short story, or essay appear in a literary journal or magazine, take the time to send a note of thanks to the editor who published your piece. If you’ve published a novel, why not thank the cover designer who made your book “pop,” or the copyeditor who carefully went over every single word of your 350-page novel?
Despite our mothers’ admonitions, most people simply forget the power of expressing thanks to those who help us in our writing journey. But by doing so, people will remember you.
Not only will they remember you as a person, but you will stand out as a professional and considerate author. You’d be surprised how many people forget this simple courtesy and how much it’s appreciated. And who knows, that editor you so thoughtfully remembered may remember YOU the next time you submit a piece.
Even if you haven’t reached the point of having editors or cover designers to thank, there are other people who contribute to your writing journey: a special teacher or librarian. Maybe a particularly insightful member of your writers group who went above and beyond, or a parent who encouraged you every step of the way, no matter what.
It costs nothing to say thanks. And it feels great!
2. Be grateful for rejection. A rejection letter is proof that you have put yourself out there as a writer. You have taken that oh-so-difficult step of submitting your work, and you are working toward getting it published.
Rejection letters mean that you believe in your work strongly enough to offer it up for consideration, and you are passionate about your writing. Go you!
Rejection letters offer a great opportunity for writers to learn what editors or agents are looking for, what you should work on, and the direction you might want to take.
If a busy agent took the time to send you a note, then your work merited the courtesy of a reply, however brief. Embrace these gifts of rejection and learn from them. Challenge yourself to do better, and congratulate yourself for walking the walk, not just talking the talk!
(For more, check out our e-book, Rejoice in Rejection.)
3. Be grateful for gratitude—a powerful tool that focuses your attention on what matters most. Most people will agree that a positive and grateful attitude enhances the quality of life in general, and writers can benefit from this attitude as well.
You may be feeling the weight of deadlines, rejection, or writer’s block, but if you step back and evaluate why you are a writer, you’ll find the answers are all positive: Because I can’t NOT write. Because I am creative. Because I have things to share. Because I have a unique voice. Because writing makes me fulfilled.
The next time you get bogged down by the negatives, take a moment to write down all the wonderful things about being a writer. What it gives you. How it helps you. The positive outcomes you envision. Allow yourself to be grateful for your gifts.
You will likely be motivated and inspired after reviewing the reasons behind your desire to be a writer, which can also get your muse revved up and ready to go. (Want more positive thinking tips? See 10 Affirmations for Creative Writers—And How to Use Them.)
So there you have it. How lucky you are to have a passion and a creative expression! At Writer’s Relief, we are also grateful—grateful for our clients and grateful for those who visit our blog. And after the recent assault of Superstorm Sandy, we are even more thankful for all the good things in our life we would otherwise take for granted—like electricity and a roof over our heads!
QUESTION: What part of the writing life are you grateful for?
Writing is a huge part of my life, of who I am, but it is not everything. My attitude toward gratitude is that I want to, every day, say thank you. I’m human, so I’m not always entirely successful. But I do, every morning and every evening, say thank you. I understand that, sometimes, I’m only pretending to be thankful. When I get it right, a clear state of calm permeates me and I know my “thanks for everything” is genuine. That is the giving back for the gifts with which I’ve been blessed.
I agree, but being thankful for those rejections is rough. I usually respond by giving in to the mully-grubs (is that a word?) for a day. On the 2nd day, I submit 2 things. Mully-grubs gone.Then, I can be thankful. Love the saying thank you.
Don’t worry Janet, we writers are all about making up words! Glad to see you’ve got a system that works for you!
Great post! I believe strongly in the power of gratitude to help people recognise what’s important. As a writer it is really hard to be grateful for criticism and rejection, but I agree with you that there are many valuable lessons to be learned from these things. A change in perspective can go a long way towards helping writers avoid falling into the black the pit of despair after another rejection or scathing review.
So true, Francene! Perspective is everything, and keeping a positive mind-set is the key to staving off that rejection-based depression. Remember, every rejection gets your name out into the writing world and puts you that much closer to an acceptance!
After saving $400 about five years ago in order to self-publish my first attempt at writing a short fictional account of the affects of substance abuse on my family, which begins with my Grandparents coming from Europe at the turn of the last Century, it has been one setback after another to market my book successfully. In 2010, I then became the sole Caregiver for my 90-year old Mother bringing her to Colorado from Michigan to live with me; and that was the end of my pursuit of anything literary. However, and yes, this is about gratitude, now that she is safely residing in a local nursing facility, well-cared for, and as happy as can be expected at the age of 93 and a diagnosis of Dementia, I am so grateful for the opportunity to once again pursue my interests in writing. So many times in our lives, we are either distracted by circumstances or negative events; but I feel I have learned so much in the past three years about compassion and caring for a loved one, maybe I can write about my experiences in order to help someone else get through a similar situation. I think if we are passionate about our “heart’s desire”, we will find the way to get back to it; and with God’s help and Blessing, we will thankfully be able to enjoy the rewards of our efforts.