Sunday, May 17, 2009

When the Writing Gets Tough, the Tough Start Writing

This month, I’d like to focus on a few tips you can use when the writing gets tough.

As every writer knows, there are successful days, and those when you just can’t force yourself to write.  Then there are those submissions you were certain the editor was going to love.  You know, the story you worked on an inordinate amount of time, you submitted it, you waited for months to hear a response—and then you receive that dreaded piece of paper, or that phone call saying the editor doesn’t like it as much as you.   Yeah, those are the days that feel as though the breath has been sucked right out of you.   I refer to those as the tough sledding days.

Having your work rejected doesn’t have to mean it isn’t good.  It only means you found one way it didn’t work.  More importantly, it may mean you just didn’t find the right editor or agent to love it. 

Did you know Casablanca was rejected well over seventy times?  I’d say we’re in pretty good company.  Get back on that horse, my friends, there are better days ahead—I promise.

Okay, so now you’ve allowed yourself a few days to lick the wounds, consumed a huge amount of chocolate, and it still hasn’t worked.  Eat more chocolate, and try some of these tips:

·      See a funny movie.  Nothing better than a good old romantic comedy.

·      Do a writing exercise to regenerate your enthusiasm.  Focus on what got you excited about writing in the first place.

·      Interview one of your characters—seriously, it does work, and it’s fun to boot.

·       Brainstorm character names and plot points with a writing friend. 

·      Do anything that gets your fingers dancing over those keys every day, even if it means writing one sentence.  

·      Pick up a book written by your favorite author.  

No matter what you do to get out of that funky mood, remember that the literary world is filled with battered writers who gave up on their dream because of someone else’s opinion.  Don’t allow yourself to be one of them.

And above all—don’t be so hard on yourself.  There are no perfect people, and certainly no perfect writers.  Ask any NY Times Best Selling Author—they’ll tell you. 

I recently read an email on one of my loops where a famous author, who has over fifty books published, still gets nervous about her new releases being reviewed.  This just blew my socks right off!  What does that tell me?  We are not alone, my friends.  It’s all about putting yourself out there.

 By now, I’m certain you’ve all seen the new singing sensation, Susan Boyle.  I call her a diamond in the rough.  She may not have the exterior features our society focuses on, but her voice soars as high as her confidence.  She’s a fighter, and there's little doubt she won't succeed. She has chosen to focus on the positive rather than the negative, and despite the naysayers, this woman is living her dream--I hope you will too.



Sandy Cody said...

Great post, Carolyn. I especially like your suggestions for escaping those funky moods. Just what I needed on this rainy Sunday.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Carolyn, your post is so timely. It seems the faster I type the more behind I get. No matter how hard we try, life does tend to get in the way. I really liked your comment bout not being so hard on ourselves, and that there are no perfect people or writers. We tend to forget that when we receive a rejection letter that hundreds, maybe thousands of others are also getting similar letters. It's not ME that's being rejected. At least, that's what I keep telling myself. Thanks for the inspiration. And, love Susan Boyle.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Thanks for your comments Sandy and Loretta. It always helps to know we're not alone in this endeavor.

Zelda Benjamin said...

I often think I have so many better things to do than agonize at my keyboard. But can I stop writing? I don't think I can. It's nice to know even NYT best sellers have the same issues.

Sierra Donovan said...


Thanks for reminding us that no one is bullet-proof! I've heard NYT best selling writers get bummed or wounded over a bad Amazon review.

The idea of the writing exercise is a great one. So what if it isn't part of a work in progress, if you're in danger of not doing *any* writing otherwise? Sometimes we can turn the work in front of us into an unscalable mountain. Something nonintimidating and fun can be just the thing to get the juices flowing.

Thanks for a terrific post!

Carolyn Hughey said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful comments. You've made my day! :-)

Carol Hutchens said...

I love Susan Boyle...her voice, her attitude, her courage. Thanks for the great reminders. There are times rejections make me feel like road kill...and the tire marks left on my flattened ego are made with 'R's'. I should copy your post.
Or listen to Susan Boyle...Thanks.