When Writing Gets Scary

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Writing can be scary. Anyone who has never written for publication may feel I’m exaggerating.  But the fears are real. I’ll only speak from my own experience. There has not been a time when I wasn’t at least a little concerned about my words as I craft or submit them. The longer I work at this creative craft of writing the scarier it can become.

At first, I fought fear:

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  1. When I sat down to write wondering if it’s any good.
  2. Sharing my work with others.
  3. Having my work critiqued
  4. Pitching it at conferences
  5. Sending out manuscripts to agents, editors and publishers
  6. Receiving Rejections
  7. Receiving a call saying a contract is on the way
  8. Working though the publication process
  9. Marketing that book
  10. Writing the next book

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Now I only get scared when:

  1. I begin a new book
  2. Pitch a new idea
  3. Complete my Manuscript
  4. Receive an email request for my manuscript
  5. Get a rejection
  6. Get the call of acceptance
  7. Get a call from an editor to write in a novella collection
  8. Write the novella
  9. While finishing a requested manuscript
  10. I wonder if my readers will love it

And at times I feel the fear more intently because I know how much work is involved in getting the story out into the marketplace. Each new cover gives me a feeling of joy and dread. Will the readers like it? Is it my best work? Will sales be good enough to get me noticed so I can continue to do what I love.

Fear and Doubt meme

For me all through this scary journey as an author I have recalled the verse: “Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You.” And mant other passages draw me out of my fear. My faith keeps me focused and brings peace amid the stormy times. Reflecting on God’s Word is my calming place. Those powerful words written by the Author of the Universe remind me who is in control of my life and I need not be afraid.

What is the scariest part of the writer’s life for you? What calms your fears ?

Processing Rejection and Life Events

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photo from pixabay

This has not been the week I’d hoped it’d be. This has not been the month so far, I expected. Good thing I didn’t join NANOWRIMO because most of my days have had zero writing in them from November 1st.

I’ve always been told life happens and you need to adjust. Well, a family member recovering from a stroke is a definite life event my husband and I weren’t expecting? (Family member is not hubby and will remain anonymous.) The patient is recovering well but having my day interrupted with home health care nurses and physical therapist is not conducive to writing.

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Award and Rejection

Those of you who follow me on Facebook saw my announcement of winning the Maxwell Award for Secrets & Charades. Third place is awesome considering the point spread between first and third was minimal. That was on Saturday. Just two hours after Bride in Disguise (The sequel to S & C) was rejected by the pub board. So, that put a damper on the award. I don’t get emotional over these things immediately.  Rather, I have a delayed reaction. So, this week was grief and confusion mode for me. I’m sensing I need to just knuckle down and rewrite the thing to resubmit. (They said I could.)

I imagine I won’t start until next week or even December. Why? Rejection takes times to process. Courage takes time to emerge. And with health care workers invading my space I get overwhelmed. Honestly, health care workers are one more acrobat standing on the shoulders of other unexpected trials over the past few years.

Adjusting to life

Once my emotions and brain have wrapped themselves around the new normal, I will get back in the writing groove. This blog is a day late because Wednesday was the apex of my emotional downer. Thursday things seemed more normal. So, I’m posting on Friday to keep my two posts a week going.

I want to ask what you do when the acrobats of need weigh down your emotions and stymie your writing life? Please leave a comment.

 

Also, congratulations to Heather Roberts the winner of Shellie Arnold’s eBook Abide in Me.

 

 

 

 

Thick-Skin A Key To Writing Success

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The alligator in the photo reminds me that writers should be thick-skinned. Anyone who has succeeded in the writing world has developed thick-skin. Writers have to pull it out of their toolbox and put it on. Wearing it, nothing and no one can get in our way and bring us down. Sounds cool, right. Well, maybe not. It actually sounds hard. Really, really hard. It’s easier to cry into my alphabet soup.

There are probably more wonderful writers out there who have experienced zero success because they didn’t know how to put on thick skin. Thick skin helps turn rejection into success. Many best-selling authors have been rejected by more publishers than they have fingers and toes.

When to put on your thick skin

Any of these sound familiar?

When an agent or publisher face gets a deer in the headlights look when I pitch my story.

The sigh when an editor says. “Your opening line isn’t strong enough.”

Instead of crying or defending or ranting your thick skin shields your heart and you can say. “Thank you for your time.” or “Do you have a suggestion.”

Why it helps

Thick-skin helps you turn unpleasant things into success. I received an email from a publisher. This is the direct quote. “Your writing is not great.”

Without my thick armor I would have cried and threw my manuscript across the room and chided myself for being such a terrible writer. Great is what publishers are looking for. So, I took a writing course and got better. I still got rejection emails, but I kept at it.

My thick-skinned determination kept me submitting my manuscript for feedback. The first three chapters are the key: they need to shine. I sent them to a manuscript critique offering at a writers conferences. Drug them to my critique group. Each time the comments were more specific. They liked my story but…you have to pay close attention to the buts. A thick-skin helps you remain open to correction and instruction. After three editors told me the story actually started much later in my book I rewrote the first three as one chapter.

Another editor told me to delete all the chapters that were not in the POV of my main characters. I got rid of some interesting scenes. (Anyway they were interesting to me.)

A judge from a contest I entered said I had a lot of stuff going on. Too many characters doing too many things equals not good writing. The judge was confused by all the various action and who was doing what.

Each comment gave me something more to build on. Kinda like the story of the three little pigs. Each pig built his house but only the one built with bricks stood against the breath of the wolf. Wolf breath is often what it feels like when your book is not getting published and no matter how you rebuild your story the wolf breath of rejection collapses all your hard work.

Disney cartoon clipart

Disney cartoon clipart

I was thrilled to get a flash fiction published. This same magazine rejected all my other submissions. Even after making the corrections requested. How frustrating is that? I pulled on my thick skin so I could graciously ask (graciousness is part of the benefit of thick skin) the editor what I needed to do differently. We talked about it. But the gem he gave me because I took the time to ask was so encouraging. “Just because it doesn’t fit our publication needs doesn’t means someone else wouldn’t be interested in it.” Keep submitting until you get a yes.

Protects from reacting

I’m sure you’ve said something like the following:

Who do these jerks think they are?”

“They wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them in the….” You get my meaning.

Thick-skin protects your lips from saying offensive things. (At least in public.) What you say in the shower or to your spouse in the darkness of your bedroom doesn’t qualify under the thick-skin umbrella. It protects your heart from allowing critical opinions of agents, publishers, and fellow-writers from coming out your mouth and infecting all those around you.

It helps writers not compare their baby to everyone else’s. Comparison tinged with jealousy nurtures negativity and the result is a bitter writer.

Don’t get bitter but encourage

Bitterness repels people from you. People won’t want to work with you or recommend you to others. You shoot your writing career in the foot when you surrender to negativity. A thick-skin helps you cheer others on and offer a helping hand even when your own work is not getting recognition. Being the complaining, gossipy, faultfinding individual in your writing group, at a conference or on your blog only weakens your ability to succeed.

Grow some thick-skin by seeking out others who wear it well. Learn how they address issues and deal with rejection. Mimic their responses until they become your own. For me, prayer works wonders. It focuses me, reminds me God is the one in control and as I pray for those whose words or critiques bother me, I gain a new peace and perspective. Add thick-skin to your tool box and keep writing and submitting, writing and submitting until you reach your writing goals.

How do you grow thick-skin? Make a comment below, I’d love to hear about it.

 

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