Friday, September 14, 2012

Don't Stop Believing

by MarcyKate Connolly

If hope is the thing with feathers, then publishing is the cat that swallows it whole.

Writers face rejection at every single stage of the game, from crit partners and early readers to agents and editors. And even when they’ve surpassed all those hurdles, they still face it from readers. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like you just can’t win. Discouragement can easily tint your rose-colored glasses black.

But hope is important. It fuels our writing and our drive to keep teasing those words out of brains and onto the page. Without hope of success, what’s the point in attempting publication? There's some evidence of a correlation between hope and good health--I like to think there's a connection between hope and publishing success, too. Often the ones who make it are the ones who refuse to give up.

So sometimes, when the rejections seem to be piling up everywhere we look, we need to step back and recharge that hope. Everyone is different of course, but these are a few things that have always helped me keep hope alive:

1) Read about and cheer for other people’s success. Peruse the QueryTracker success stories for the most difficult journeys. If they can do it, why not you, too?

2) Join a critique group or writing community.  Might I suggest The non-writers in our lives can't fully understand the highs and lows of this business, no matter how hard they try. But others writers will. Just knowing you’re not alone can go a long way to lifting you out of the pits of despair. For me, finding like-minded writers to commiserate with along the journey has been critical factor in keeping me sane.

3) Write the next book. It’s never fun to think the book you love and are sending out to agents and editors right now won’t be The One. But getting excited about a new story and knowing that it will be there even if the active project doesn’t pan out is one of the best ways I've found to keep myself going.

4) Do something completely different. Go for a walk. Go to the museum. Spend the night with your best friends eating ice cream and laughing. Pursue those other hobbies that you love and that inspire you. Refreshing yourself can bring new ideas (and a better outlook) to your writing.

Got tips for staying hopeful? Share them in the comments!

MarcyKate Connolly writes young adult fiction and becomes a superhero when sufficiently caffeinated. When earthbound, she blogs at her website and ferrets out contests on Twitter.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Have supportive writer friends is definitely helpful. They keep me from giving up when I feel like I've had enough. And writing the next book is the way to go--unless it causes you to forget to query the other one. That happens to me.

JeffO said...

Strangely, I think NOT hearing from agents is even harder than getting rejections. Knowing, even when it's something bad, is often better.

Great advice for coping with either situation, though.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice! Finding that balance in life can be tough - but it's so important! And ice cream always helps! :)

Liza said...

Terrific, helpful tips. One suggestion, which involves a bit of a time investment: consider reading/completing The Artist's Way, by Julia Campbell. The lessons inside provide wonderful methods and practices to avoid becoming stuck and losing hope, regardless of the "art" you practice.

Jean Oram said...

Just... um... uh... hmm.

I lean on my friends (writing friends, of course) and keep applying what I know and improving--that gives me hope. :)