Are you just beginning your first book, seeking critiques for the first time, querying agents and editors, already published, or wanting more out of your published career? Regardless of where you are in your publishing career, the potential for burn out is as real as the many causes. Thick skin and determination are needed to reflect the fireballs of rejection and negativity that will soar your way at some point.
As a beginning writer, you expend energy studying the craft and learning how to improve the stories in our heads and hearts. You pour yourself into the pages until exhaustion overtakes you. You’re drained and your defenses are low, so even if you know that you wrote complete garbage you should feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. You’ve created lives and worlds from your imagination and translated them to paper. Allow yourself to write poorly. It’s expected in the beginning just as it’s expected that a baby learning to walk is going to fall a few times. It takes practice.
Once you’ve finished that manuscript and seek out a critique, it’s a given that you want to hear how brilliant your writing is. What you have to be prepared for is to be told where you don’t shine. If you’re lucky, you’ll be blessed with a critique partner who remembers to tell you what you’ve done well while they’re pointing out holes or problems. Regardless, you should go into a critique partnership with the understanding that if at any time you aren’t getting what you wan or need that you will move on.
You can’t grow as a writer without the sometimes painful honesty of a critique, but you should never be so torn down that you consider giving up. If you have a critique partner or contest judge who is that negative, trash their comments and find someone else. For me, before making big changes to my stories, I use the two of three theory. If two people say something is a problem, I’ll consider redoing it. Otherwise, it’s one opinion.
When the time comes to begin querying editors and agents, or to move your publishing career to the next level, managing your expectations is another must. To help do that, you should know why you began writing.
What was it that drove you to tell the story inside you? Why did it matter enough for you to seek out critiques that may have required you to seemingly move backwards while you learned how to move forward in your skills? What is your ultimate goal for your writing? To see your name on a book however it happens, to hit lists, to make a living as a writer, to use your writing to deliver a message or inspiration to your readers, or do you have something else in mind?
Whatever the answer is, by knowing it you’ll be able to maintain your defenses when negativity comes your way. With your defenses strong, the rejections that will come your way from agents and editors will sting less. The answer will also help you stay strong as you face rejections even after you’ve been published. Even then, not every one is going to buy your work.
If you find yourself struggling to nail down an answer to the above questions, try this one: If you knew now that you would never publish a book would you continue to write?
That answer will help you figure out the rest.
No matter what stage you’re at, when negativity comes at you, either from a rejection letter, jealousy or snide comments from other writers, a lack of support from family and friends, or mean-spirited people who seem to thrive on knocking you down a notch, don’t let it get to you. You have to have a fireproof skin more impenetrable than any armor. Separate yourself from these people if necessary, or else you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Instead, surround yourself with the amazingly warm, giving, caring, and supportive people that you’ll meet in this business.
~ Sylvia Day, the national bestselling, award-winning author of seventeen novels written across multiple sub-genres, makes sure to celebrate the little things. Sometimes they’re all you’ve got at the moment.
~ Candace Havens, an entertainment journalist and multi-published author who believes strongly in karma, says to reward yourself. Work hard, but don’t forget to take breaks to reward yourself along the way.
~ Shelley Bradley, an award winning author of over fifteen books, has said to begin as you intend to continue.
You have to be able to pick myself up, because you can’t always rely on someone else to do it. Some survival tips I’ve picked up along the way:
~ Remember that we’ve done something few others do. Finishing a book takes talent, courage, stamina, and determination. Hold on to that.
~ Embrace honesty and realism. Allow the constructive information to help you grow.
~ Minimize false expectations. Know what you want and why.
~ Celebrate the little things. The small victories like an agent or editor telling you that you write beautifully or they love your characters add up.
~ Reward yourself. Whether it’s a small thing like ignoring the to-do list that’s longer than your leg and taking the time to watch a movie or something bigger like a night out, take time for you. No one has the right to begrudge you that.
~ Demolish negativity. Jealousy or insecurity is often the driving force of negative energy and there’s no room for that in a successful career.
~ Let go of the small stuff. If you can’t control it, stressing over it is only going to make you sick.
Good luck in finding the determination to reach whatever level you’ve chosen for yourself. Never let anyone diminish you or your goals.
Nikki’s been a member of North Texas Romance Writers of America for close to two years, and has been recognized as an RWA PRO. She’s completed three novels and one novella. While seeking publication, Nikki keeps herself busy by creating the stories living vividly in her imagination and helping other authors with promotional materials, including things like book videos, bookmark designs, and website design and maintenance. More can be found about Nikki by visiting www.nikkiduncan.com.