Tag Archives: rejection

Four Major Writing Obstacles And How To Overcome Them: #4 Lack of Support

The fourth article in a four part series.

Here we are. The last obstacle.

And it’s a doozy.

Support, both professional and personal, can be a deciding factor for whether you continue your writing or abandon it. So…

How do I find professional support?

The easiest way is to sign up for a workshop or class. If you like your instructor, keep in touch. They may not always have time to read your work, but they can offer you the encouragement you need to keep going.

Believe it or not, rejection can sometimes yield useful feedback. Agents may not have the time, but literary magazine editors may give you notes on your short story. Accept them.

There are also writers out there who are just as vulnerable, just as frustrated as you are. Why not host a networking night? It’s a great chance to talk about writing challenges and triumphs. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your new best friend. Maybe you’ll find a mentor. (Or maybe you’ll drink a lot of wine and bitch about writer’s block. Either way, it couldn’t hurt)

Professional support isn’t going to fall into your lap. You have to seek it out. Find community where you can. And remember, you are not alone.

What if I don’t have personal support?

I’ve been very lucky that my family, spouse and friends are all super supportive. (Thank you, everyone!) But what happens if your loved ones aren’t? If your work is an extension of yourself and they don’t love it, how can they love you? Believe it or not, they can. They just might not understand why you do what you do. They may not appreciate books, writing or the arts. At the end of the day if the people you love don’t love that you write, remind yourself that they don’t have to. You’re not writing for them. You are writing for you. You’re the one who has something to say. If they don’t want to read it, that’s fine. Other people will.

If you can’t find personal support among family and friends, can you find it within yourself? For Writers Only author Sophy Burnham says, “I remember once discussing with a playwright how we talked to ourselves when we’re not working well. ‘Oh, I speak roughly to myself!’ I said. ‘I scold myself and shout and whip at myself to quit this laziness and get to work.’ She looked at me in surprise. ‘Oh, no.’ she said. ‘You must never speak to yourself like that…. No, what you do is to put your arm around your shoulder and comfort yourself…’ I was amazed. I had never heard of that. But the next time I felt despairing I remembered her advice – and to my surprise my heart immediately lifted, and immediately I sat back down to work.”

Do you believe in you? Stop focusing on what you don’t like about your writing and concentrate on what you do like. If you are able to give yourself encouragement and confidence, that’s all the only support you will ever need.

Now give yourself a hug and get back to work.

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Four Major Writing Obstacles And How To Overcome Them: #1 Fear

The first in a four part series.

As part of my first year university acting class, I performed an excerpt from Anton Chekov’s The Three Sisters. I no longer remember the plot, but I do remember all three sisters wanting to go to Moscow. They talked about it (a lot) but they never went.

Being not even 20, I was baffled by the sisters’ lack of action. “Why don’t they just go to Moscow?!” 14 years later, I understand. What if Moscow didn’t work out? What if it made them miserable? If they stayed, at least they would have the beauty of the dream.

Writing is terrifying. But what exactly are we afraid of?

Never Finishing

You have an idea. A great idea. One that makes you really excited to get started. There’s just one problem. This isn’t an idea for a poem, a short story, or even a play. It’s a novel. With an average word count of 100,000 starting a novel is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. So what do you do?

The truth, is if you wrote 274 words a day, in one year you would have a draft. Even if you skipped days here and there, you could still have yourself a beginning, middle and an end in less than two. Think of finishing your novel as a goal you can accomplish. Only then can you sit down and get started.

An Awful Book

But what if it’s bad? I’m going to level with you. It will be. That’s the point. If you really want to write a novel, you need to give yourself permission to write badly. Cry through the draft if you have to, just get something down. No book has ever been published without ridiculous amounts of rewrites and you can’t rewrite what doesn’t exist.

Genre

Working on a novel is challenging enough, but tackling sci-fi or fantasy means creating an entire world and the rules magic or technology. Where to begin?! Do not despair, rejoice! While other writers are researching Maine or what people wore in the eighteenth century, you get to create an entire world from scratch. Don’t focus on all you have yet to create. Celebrate the little victories – the name of your world, how the people look. These genres are daunting, but they’re also a lot of fun. Enjoy it.

Rejection

It will happen. A lot. If rejection comes with some constructive criticism, take it. If it doesn’t, move on. Resubmit. Again and again. Rewrite again and again. The only way you are guaranteed never to be published is if you never submit.

Admitting You’re a Writer

Even published writers have a hard time admitting what they do for a living. When asked about her new year’s writing resolution, Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes, said “To actually admit that I’m a writer. Until now I’ve always been afraid of making people with normal jobs feel uncomfortable when I talk about being a writer… So in 2013 I’m just going to say it: I’m a novelist. I’m 38 years old, I’m committed now, there’s no going back, for better or worse I’m going to die a writer.”

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t published. Get comfortable saying you’re a writer now. Have your short, two sentence description or elevator pitch ready for the following conversation:

SOME GUY What do you do?

YOU I am currently working at (insert day job here) while I work on my novel.

SOME GUY Oh? What’s it about?

YOU (Insert elevator pitch here)

Now here’s the tricky part. Most of the time SOME GUY’s response to the description of your novel will be,

SOME GUY You know what you should do…

As you listen to SOME GUY tell you his ideas, just take a slow, deep breath (try to do this subtly) People have good intentions. They’re excited that you’re a writer. You should be, too. Remember, the purpose of publication is to have readers buy your book. That means you will have to tell people about it.

Most things worth doing are scary – traveling to a foreign country, telling something you love them. If you’re afraid it means you’re on to something.

Don’t dream of Moscow. Pack your bags and go.

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