Feeling down about your writing? Feeling like you’re never going to reach any of you writing goals? Feel like your dreams of becoming a successful writer are slipping by you with every passing day? Feel like, no matter how hard you push it, nothing seems to work and everything just keeps getting the way?
Well me too. And let me tell you this: So do tens of thousands of other writers out there who are simply trying to beat the odds and make a living as a full time writer.
And sometimes it’s so hard to keep pushing yourself to keep the faith, when all you really want to do is close your laptop for good and give up on this little writing experiment.
But today I’m telling you to stick with it. It is hard. It’s so hard when you feel like the world exists only to get in the way of dreams and you’re helpless to stop it. But you know what? You’re not helpless at all. And when you feel the way, just remember that you’re only real enemy in this writing game is yourself. So take these ten ideas to heart, keep writing, and you will get where you want to be eventually.
1. Everything takes time
In writing (as well as art and music) there is no such thing as an overnight success. Every writer that just “came out of nowhere” with a bestseller had been writing for years, honing their craft, and collecting rejections just like the rest of us. So if you’re not finding immediate success, just remember that nobody else did either.
2. Everybody gets rejected
Everybody. Here are 50 Iconic Writers Who Were Rejected Repeatedly. If they got rejected early on, of course you will. And me? I’ve had over a hundred rejection letters since I first started submitting short stories, and fifty rejections or non-responses from agents on my novel.
3. Rejection isn’t a bad thing
I know that’s hard to hear, but it’s true. If you’re getting rejection letters than that means you’re submitting things. Which is way more than most people can say. How many people “want to be a writer someday”? You are a writer. And you’ve got the rejection letters to prove it 🙂
4. You continue to improve with every word you write
When I used to exercise back in the day, I had a goal of doing a set of ten bench presses with two 45 plates on each side of the bar. That’s 235 pounds. I did it. But it took a couple of years of small increases before I could get there. (This is like 15 years ago, btw. I don’t think I could do 10 reps with an empty bar at this point in my life.) Writing is the same way. Every word you write, every page you finish, is all just practice. The more you write, the longer you stay in the game, the better you will be. And if you don’t believe me, go pull out an old draft from a few years ago and tell me you haven’t improved since then.
5. Society doesn’t want you to succeed. But it’s not up to them.
This one is a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s true. Most people don’t understand your passion. Most people strive for comfort, and that leads to mediocrity. Nine to Five at the a day job they can mostly tolerate and then head home and turn on the TV to escape from “real life.” When you talk about only getting five hours of sleep last night, or skipping the (insert televised sporting event here) because you need to work on your novel, or not having HBO, you’re usually met with a blank stare. But that’s okay. Your success depends on you, not on any social norms set by your peers.
6. Other writers DO support you
They really do. This is why I have this blog. To help new and aspiring writers know that they are not alone in their journey. And the good news is that it’s not very difficult to find other writer friends. You can join any number of online groups, or even find a local writers guild or critique group. And if you still have no luck finding something, just put up a sign at your nearest library saying “Local writer looking for other writers to commiserate with.” I bet your inbox is full by the end of the week.
7. You are always free to start over
If you still feel like the quality of your writing isn’t what you expect it to be, maybe you’re doing something that isn’t right for you. And guess what? That’s okay! Nobody needs to see your crappy and abandoned WIP. Toss into an “abandoned” folder (never delete because you never know…) and start something new. Maybe you’ve been writing in the wrong genre (for you) or using the wrong POV (for you) and it’s time to try something new. There is no shame in that at all.
8. You are always free to take a break
Okay, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking an extended vacation from writing, but maybe sometimes that is the best thing for you to do if you’re feeling overwhelmed and just need to step back for a bit. Instead, I would say you should take a break from a specific project or genre and work on something else for a while, and then come back with a clear head.
9. You are unique
Don’t compare yourself to other writers because you are not them. You have strengths and individual skills that no other human being in the world has. Find those strengths; find what makes your writing unique and capitalize on it.
10. The writers who “make it” are the ones who never gave up.
This is the most important thing to remember whenever you’re feeling down about your writing. I can say on good authority that 100% of the people who give up never succeed. If you stick with your passion, and continue to learn, practice, and push yourself, the odds are actually in your favor, and you will eventually reach the level of success your are seeking.
And that’s it! Don’t give up! We all feel terribly down sometimes. I’m feeling that way as I type this. But I believe wholeheartedly with every word in this post, and know that no matter how discouraged I feel sometimes, in many ways I’ve gone a lot further than I ever thought I would in writing fiction, and know that the best is yet to come.
So thanks for reading, and if you’ve got any inspirational tips for keeping a positive outlook when it comes to writing, please feel free to share it in the comments section.