Today, I was thinking about how much I love to write and how we, as writers, are a different breed. No doubt you’ve noticed it. We share our passion for words, language or self-expression with others and we bore those non-writer types.
“Why do you always have to analyze everything?” they say when we guess the ending half way through a movie. We tell them we anticipate endings because we can detect how the screenwriter set up the story. Why do we do this? Because we’re storytellers. It’s what we do.
Yet, despite our passion to write, it occurred to me today how much courage we need to write. Why do you need courage to write?
You need courage to:
- deliberately and consistently put yourself “out there.” You set yourself up for critique or criticism if you’re published, and rejection if you’re not. That takes guts.
- survive the early stages of your writing career because every rejection letter reinforces a false message: “You’re not good enough.” The truth is if you are not good enough now, you will be, if you don’t give up.
- pitch your story to an agent or an editor in-person. Can you summarize your novel in one sentence? Will you remember this sentence under pressure? Can you deliver it in less than 30 seconds? Is it compelling enough to sell an agent on you and your book?
- attend a writer’s conference when every writer in the room is more accomplished than you. It’s easy to feel like you’re among the brethren when you are with other writers but it is also easy to feel inadequate.
- keep writing when you question your talent and doubt yourself. Self-doubt will kill a writing career faster than any other threat you face. Gut it out.
- make major changes to your novel when you disagree with a potential agent. An agent who has yet to make a commitment to take you on wants you to make major changes to your main character and the setting. You love your main character and your setting. It’s your baby. Now what do you do?
All of these issues can leave you feeling disillusioned or discouraged. But the good news is you can find courage in discouragement. How? Here are a few tips.
First, accept the fact that rejection is a part of the game. It comes with the territory. Reread your rejection letters. Look for an element of truth in them. Step back and ask yourself what you can learn from them. Second, if you’re early in your writing career, think of it as an apprenticeship. You’re in training. It will be a few years before you can call yourself a writer with confidence. You’re learning a craft and you have to pay your dues on the path to publication. Third, realize that you are on common ground. Every writer has stood where you stand. You’ll find your way. Fourth, don’t let discouragement derail you. Stay on task. Pursue the dream. Fifth, remember that best way to sharpen your writing skills is to use them. So keep cranking.
Finally, the best advice I can offer is to never give up and to never forget that if you look hard enough, you’ll find courage in disCOURAGEment.
The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.
Blog entries are posted on Thursday.
You may contact me at: email@example.com.