There are certain disappointments every writer must face.
So you think you want to be a writer? Quit your terrible day job to write whatever you really want to write? It doesn’t have to be an impossible pipe dream. Sure, it’s tough. You have to be willing to put in hour after hour without any guarantee of a payoff, but it’s still doable.
In fact, regular people are doing it every single day.
Of course, should you decide to talk about your big writing dreams, some folks will warn you to develop a thicker skin first. But take it from someone who did quit her day job to focus on a fledgling writing career — you don’t really need thick skin.
Personally, thick skin is overrated. Writers need to feel everything to write honestly anyway.
What you really could use are some steel-toed boots, because people will try to step all over you along the way. And you’ll need to stand firm if you plan to make it.
It’s no secret that writing is a career which offers ample rejection. The only secret is how to make that rejection sting a little less. The truth is that every writer on the planet is bound to face all different types of rejection, so you might as well get used to the idea right now.
Of course, rejection isn’t always a flat out denial of the value of your work. Sometimes it’s the simple disappointment from a variety of sources.
The people you love will not always love your work.
When I first decided to finally(!) and seriously(!) pursue my own writing career, I was under the false impression that my friends and family would be excited for me too. I thought they would be proud of me for trying to make my life better.
The truth hurt. Most people I loved had zero interest in reading anything I wrote aside from a Facebook status. It’s like they couldn’t even imagine that I might have what it takes to write.
The most disappointing thing about it was that so many of my well-read friends were already interested in most of the topics I cover. They just weren’t interested in me covering them. Ouch.
The writers you emulate might be too busy for you.
Sometimes, there will other, “bigger” writers who seriously inspire you, and you will want them to know just how much they impact you. There’s no guarantee that they will respond, and there are a hundred different reasons for that. Most of those reasons have nothing to do with you.
It’s funny, right? Not everything revolves around us — even when we’re absolutely positive that we’re being ignored. Plenty of good-hearted writers are simply busy and far too swamped with requests from people like you and me to answer them all.
Your own readers can be pretty hard on you too.
So it stinks, but nothing you write is ever going to please everybody. Not even your regular readers, once you collect some of those. Truth be told, routine readers will sometimes have the most to complain about. Once they begin to identify with your work, they may expect to see themselves in it every single time.
“Did you really mean this?”
“This story would have been so much better if you had said ___________.”
Nevermind the fact that 10 different readers might read your story in 10 different ways.
It’s a disappointing reality: you will never please everybody.
Some people are going to love trolling you.
It’s one thing when readers earnestly try to correct you or attempt to add clarity to your words. It’s a whole other thing when people troll you and only read your stories to argue or bring you down.
It takes a certain kind of person to take so much time out of their day just to read another person’s work and look for ways to tear it apart. They could be pouring that effort into something positive and productive instead.
But this is another aspect of writing that will likely never change. Stand tall when the trolls come. Your writing doesn’t need to matter to everybody to add value.
Mattering to some is more than enough.
Some writing professionals will overlook you.
Rejection from anyone we deem to be a real professional in the industry hurts. There’s no way around it. It’s enough to make many people quit writing altogether.
I have been rejected by magazines and blogging circles. The Chattanooga Mom’s Blog turned me down for a volunteer writing position. One writing organization expressed interest in having me write an ebook about writing as a single mom. I turned in an outline and they said, “Nevermind. That isn’t what we wanted.”
I can go on. A literary agent wanted to represent me to sell a book. Until I gave her my best ideas. Nope, she was not the agent for me.
Thank goodness I haven’t taken such rejection to heart. Since then, I’ve enjoyed over 200K reads in a single month without their stamps of approval.
Your own great expectations will fail you.
How many people have quit writing just because they didn’t get the exact results they wanted right out of the gate? Maybe you’ve been there too. Your first novel wasn’t a bestseller. After 6 years, nobody knows your name.
The easiest way to shoot your own weary self in the foot is to call yourself a failure when things don’t line up exactly the way you wanted them to. Hey, it’s great to have goals as a writer. But it’s pretty paralyzing to place enormous expectations upon yourself and your dreams.
Your dreams need room to breathe. Often, that means getting out of your own way first. Let the expectations go and find out what might happen instead.
The best way to get past disappointments and rejection?
You’ve got to be your own biggest fan. There’s no other way around it. That’s why I say you need some steel-toed boots — because you have to stand your ground whether you’re getting plenty of accolades and pats on the back or not.
Of course, the big thing about standing your ground as a writer is that you have to do more than believe in yourself. You’ve got to use that belief and turn it into action. Meaning you must write, and keep writing throughout all of the disappointments in order to get to the joys.
The good news is that you can do this.
But you’ve got to do the work and take your writer’s journey one day at a time.
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