Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nothing Works Like A Little Action

A fellow writer asked me last week what I do to combat the inner "you suck" messages that follow hard on the heels of a rejection, a contest flop, or a dry spell in our writing.

I could give you some long, complicated answer and write a truly inspiring blog post but honestly, I can sum it up in two words: take action.

Whenever I received a rejection from an agent, I sat down at the computer, did a little research, and queried two more. When I didn't place well in a contest, I focused on the next project at hand and set a goal to have it ready for the next big contest. When I face a dry spell in my writing (and we all have those days where writing is like wringing water from a rock), I keep writing.

Maybe I write something different--take a scene from a new perspective, outline another project, interview my characters--but nothing cures the inner "I suck" voice like proving it wrong and action is the only way to do that.

Because the truth is, most of the agents out there weren't for me. Some of the contest judges I received didn't think I hung the moon. And sometimes my writing sucks--but sometimes it's brilliant. I wouldn't get to the brilliant if I stopped at "you suck."

Feeling discouraged? Query another agent. Take a workshop. Brainstorm with other writers. Enter another contest. Write another chapter. Take action. You'll stomp that whiny little voice of doubt into silence when you do.


  1. I have tricked the voice. I state the applicable version of "This endeavor will not be successful" before the verdict returns, and then all the voice can say in the face of my lack of success is, "Wow, Kerry, you were right, as always. You're really smart. Are you psychic or something?", thereby patting my bruised little ego and making it all better.

    (Yes, I know that doesn't sound particularly psychologically healthy, but I'm not wired normally in that department, so this works for me.)

  2. I agree with you. Action is everything. And keep writing! Don't let the dry spell continue. If I get rejections while writing something I love, I think, "This book is even better. It will be the one to sell."

  3. Right on, CJ. When self-doubt creeps in telling us our stories are no good, we have to boot it out. And action is the way to do that.

  4. I, for one, find several small dogs to kick first.

    Did you know that Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness was rejected 13 times before finally being published. That book was on the NY Times Bestseller list for years (and I do mean years)! That story always inspired me.

  5. Thank you CJ! I was totally having an "I suck" meltdown this week. Today...after 3 days of paralyzed inaction...I decided to read blogs to find some inspiration. What do you know? You have an entry that is EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you.


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