How to stay motivated when faced with rejection
Being an aspiring author is a funny old business. Some days, I wake up, full of positivity about my book (what a great idea it is), optimistic that one day I will achieve my ambition of getting a novel published. Sometimes the words just flow.
But it’s the other days I want to talk about. The days where I wonder whether I’ve wasted a million hours writing; where the self-doubt kicks in and a snarly voice in my head mutters ‘maybe, I should just throw it all in’.
Rule number one: you haven’t wasted a million hours writing if you’ve enjoyed those hours. Admittedly, I didn’t enjoy every second of the process of writing my first book. There were some hours where I’d stare at the same page of squiggled handwriting for hours trying to make a dreary paragraph work; and others where I discovered holes in my plot which made me want to scream. But overall, I’m happy with the fact I have finished a whole novel. And that in itself, means those hours weren’t wasted.
It can be hard to see what progress you are making as a writer. This is especially true when you’re doing it by yourself (i.e. not as part of a course/ degree where you’re working towards an end grade), and more so when it feels like you’re not getting anywhere… Not winning competitions, not receiving positive replies from literary agents… It can be really easy to feel like you’re not moving forward at all.
At the beginning of this year, after I finished my first novel, I decided to make a list of ‘ways to move my writing forward in 2018’. This wasn’t an overly ambitious list, but realistic steps I could take to help me recognise the progress I was making with my writing.
For example, some of my steps were to:
- subscribe to a writing magazine
- enter a few short story competitions
- join a writing group
- create a writing blog
- start submitting my novel to literary agents/ publishers
- begin planning out my second novel
These are all things that are 100% in my control and are certainly achievable.
I feel that if I am able to complete these steps, even without winning any of the competitions, or gaining representation, I will have made progress as a writer and feel more like I’m part of the writing community than I did last year.
So, I’m intrigued; if you’re just starting out on your writing career, or if you’ve been successfully writing for some time, what are your steps? What were the things you did first, before the joy of publication found you, to help you feel like you were making progress?