Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dealing with discouragement.

One of the pitfalls I've encountered lately is discouragement. It's tied to the professional jealousy thing, but it's not jealousy exactly. Oh there's a touch of envy, but it's more a combination of frustration and depression.

Writers all around you are doing a happy dance as they announce the sale of their first, third or millionth book but you just received another rejection. You enter contests for feedback and the responses (in terms of scores and comments) are a bit tough to swallow. I feel your pain, cause I've been there. Recently.

I was ready to throw my manuscript under the bed (metaphorically - cause it's a computer file), and move on but then...miracle of miracles...I received a request for a full. It's not a sale, but it happened at EXACTLY the right time. And why? Because I kept going. I felt like crap. Like I wanted to just give in... Then I got a tiny bit of validation. I pray someone will offer me a contract as a result, but now I'm not quite so depressed.

So, how do you keep going when you feel like you're in a very deep hole and the sides are caving in on you? I don't know. No, really. It varies for each of us. I need my friends to tell me my stuff isn't crap and encourage me to keep going. I'm fortunate that my friends usually pony up and do exactly that. Sometimes, I just need one person to say, "Hey, this is pretty good." Once I hear those words, I'm ready to rumble.

If you don't receive a bit of validation, think about things that give you joy. Then do them. It's not a sin to take a break from your writing if you need to take a deep breath. Go ahead and take a break. Read a book. Go for a drive in the country. Play with your kids or your pets. Make love with your lover. Whatever inspires it.

I'm trying hard to follow my own advice because I haven't spent a lot of time writing lately. Unfortunately, I've been feeling guilty about it. However, this month I have a darn good excuse. I bought a house and I'm moving. Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm moving, not writing - unless I feel like it. Keep your fingers crossed that I accomplish both!

So, when you start feeling discouraged, how do you fight the writing blahs? Please post a comment. I need all the help I can get. :-)


  1. It’s great when you get that validation, whether it is a contest win, a request or, happy day, an actual sale! Kudos on your request! :)

  2. Thanks Brenda. It was the definite shot in the arm I needed at that moment in time.

    What do you do to combat discouragement and keep going?

  3. A little bit of synchronicity can go a long way.

    When I get discouraged, I usually pick up the phone an call one of my writer friends. At some point we all think we are spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. It's the nature of the industry.

    So, I let myself indulge in some self-pity and then decide---"Do you want to give and thus let those who doubt your talent, your voice, or your vision win? Or you push on? In the end, only you can answer that question. I am too stubborn and refuse to give up the dream even when my writing is dribbling out one sentence per day.

    In the end, I can't not write.


  4. I have found it helpful to change gears and be creative or productive in some other endeavor when my writing seems to be going nowhere. Sometimes I sew or read or even just write short fiction instead of novels.

    Jody W.

  5. I've had dry times when I set goals in terms of rejections. I'd shoot for 8 or 10 rejections in a year and consider myself successful if I got them.

  6. You're doing the right thing by setting that particular book aside and moving on to the next project. Often it's a matter of timing for the one "under the bed" finding a home.

    Like Talia, I allow myself to feel some self pity and rant to any of my friends willing to let me. Being writers themselves, they understand and agree with all the petty jealous things I say : ) After a short time, I realize I'm being petty and decide one person's opinion isn't going to break me. Even if it's one person and another one person and another one person. Then I get back to work.

  7. First congrats on the house - maybe the decorating the new place will refill the creative well and make you see that piece in a new light?

    Okay, so that's what I tell myself...

    I think we all the pat on the back every once in a while - that validation that we're doing the right thing.