Friday, August 19, 2011

Perseverance

A co-worker of mine just warned me that I might not want to pursue writing (insert snarky, defensive reply here). That writing requires a thick skin, and it's a hard business to break into (insert another sarcastic reply, and be creative). After our (brief) conversation, I figured that she either stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, or she knows someone (besides me) who writes.

And while I'd love to continue to be scandalized, and to roll my eyes, she has a point. And I'd like to share (or rather, reiterate)that with you.

Writing is difficult. Albert Einstein thought it was difficult, folks. So it's going to suck for you many, many times. But don't give up.

When I think of the struggle writers go through to get published, I think of the Titanic. At first, it's a pretty morbid comparison (spoiler alert: It sank). But if you think about it, the Titanic didn't sink because of one big, obvious blow to the hull. It was a series of gashes, all strategically placed by that murderous iceberg, which ultimately brought it down.



And so it is with writers. We rarely have that Eureka moment where we say, "Because ______ happened, I'm giving up writing." No, it's a series of events. A line of holes. How many holes are you fighting right now? Not sure? Let's see:

1.) Time constraints. Maybe you work full time, or two jobs even, and have a family. Finding time to write means giving up things like sleep. Sacrificing sleep can really work you over. And so can sacrificing writing time, in the overall scheme of things.

Solution: Find balance. Make a schedule. Can you write on your lunch hour? Can you write after your kiddos go to bed? Can you wake up earlier? Don't expect too much of yourself. Slow and steady.

2.) Rejection. All kinds of rejection, all kinds of little holes, right? Agents, hole. Editors, hole. Heck, even a negative critique can puncture a hole in our perseverance. Self doubt settles in like rust on those holes. Add that to lack of sleep as mentioned above, and you're taking on water right?

Solution: Don't take it personally. Also, DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Another good strategy is to keep going. Rejected on a query? Send out another. That one rejected too? By all means, hit send again. Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND was rejected 38 times, people. Run along and read rejection stories of famous authors RIGHT NOW. Print them out and keep them handy. Then smile, and keep going.

We ALL get rejected. I did. You will. Keep going anyway.

What other holes can pock your perseverance? How do you patch them up and keep cruising?

8 comments:

  1. OMG...really? So glad she told you this! (did she not know you were published?! hehe) So far I think I have a pretty thick skin. We'll see!

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  2. I had the same question as Mandie. Seems strange to give advice to someone who's already lived it. Yes, a writing career is a marathon, not a sprint, and these hurdles are present every inch of the way. It's not like it stops once you've got an agent, or your first book deal! Great post!

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  3. The Titanic comparison was right on the money. Rarely is it just one thing that sends us overboard (no pun inteded), but a series of shoves, punches, and kicks that makes us feel like we have no other choice but to jump. The only way to avoid it is to fight back with determination.

    Great Post!

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  4. Wonderful post. We all have self doubt and well all have holes. I just read that the MS for THE HELP was rejected 60 times. Add Gone With the Wind to that! It is good to remember that this happens to everyone. Perseverance is crucial. Thanks for the reminder. I needed this today.

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  5. Seems to me that the people who are the biggest nay-sayers and critics are the people who are most afraid to take some risks themselves. I welcome useful, constructive critique and turn a deaf ear to anything else. They can stuff it. Thanks for the great post!

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  6. I have a friend who has an agent voodoo doll. I've never gone that route myself, but I have written wicked emails in response--with the intention of never sending them. It's pretty therapeutic :)

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  7. A co-worker of mine just warned me that I might not want to pursue writing (insert snarky, defensive reply here). That writing requires a thick skin, and it's a hard business to break into (insert another sarcastic reply, and be creative). After our (brief) conversation, I figured that she either stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, or she knows someone (besides me) who writes.
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