Publishing is a competitive sport of sorts. Think about it. How many authors are out there? How many books? (If you’ve seen my growing book wish list, you’ll see it’s quickly getting out of control.)
And only the best get to enjoy some visibility in bookstores and online retailers.
Yet the amount of rejection every author faces is daunting. It can be soul crushing.
I know I look at my work with such a critical eye that I pretty much convince myself no one would ever waste even five minutes reading it.
(Other authors have felt this way, I’ve heard ’em mention it.)
So what’s a writer to do? Quit, right?
Anyone who’s caught the writing bug knows that while quitting seems appealing from time to time, the urge to write is still inside, perhaps buried or latent or beaten down, but it’s there. And it refuses to be snuffed out.
Sometimes it takes hearing a reader gush about a character they liked, or receiving positive feedback from a beta reader, or even returning to an abandoned project and realizing its waaaay better than you first thought to get you back in the proverbial saddle.
Last summer, I’d started a new YA contemporary and got about 20,000 words in before falling out of love with it. I’d taken a few writerly ego hits (a press shut down and I got rights for four novels returned to me–a good thing, but it effectively annihilated my backlist–and I was toiling with the querying of a different YA contemporary written the previous winter), and contemplated quitting. My joie de writing had dried up.
A few months later, I got new contracts for two of my returned projects (Yay!), and received some good news for the YA contemporary. Riding the good news high, I pulled out the partially drafted novel and reviewed it. I realized it was way better than I’d given it credit for. Who knew?!
I need to GIVE MYSELF A BREAK. Sure, whatever I write needs editing–that’s par for the course–but I shouldn’t see that as a reason to quit…or to bash myself. I need to recognize I can tell a damn good story. I need to acknowledge my ability to create complex characters.
I need to keep writing.
How about you? Do you need to give yourself a break? If so, what kind?
Great post, Laura! I do get discouraged sometimes, but like you said, that urge to write always resurfaces.
Giving ourselves a break is critical. I’m glad you’re back in the writing saddle!
Congrats on all your good news lately! I gave myself a break to work mostly on freelance for almost 2 years and now I’m back with a vengeance to my beloved novels. I learned so much during that time away – and couldn’t wait to come back to what I most love to write. But it was nice to earn some money with my writing, too!