By Ane Mulligan
According to a song lyric by Linda Rondeau:
Home, home in the industry
Where the writers and publishers play
Where seldom is heard
An encouraging word
And the skies are so cloudy all day
Thanks, Linda for letting me borrow the lyric. Yes, I’ve experienced discouragement in my writing journey. Maybe it was a rejection, or comments from a contest judge, but they threw cold water on my dreams.
I soon realized getting discouraged was not getting me anywhere and definitely not published. So, after I kicked a cabinet or two, I pulled up my big girl panties, donned rhino skin and got over it.
The thing is I never want somebody to tell me my work is wonderful if it isn’t. How embarrassing would that be? And how untruthful. Iron sharpens iron, and I was blessed to find crit partners who love me enough to push me hard. We can’t get our feelings hurt if we’re told something doesn’t work – not if we’re serious about publishing.
If you’re serious, then you refuse discouragement. Turn your back on it, because it doesn’t come from God.
Now, before y’all string me up, I realize new writers are more sensitive than the veterans. But if you really want to publish, you’ve got to lose that. This industry is subjective and it’s competitive. To get ahead, you have to be one of the best.
So, here’s my advice. When you get discouraged, follow these steps:
1. Set the crits or judge’s comments aside for 3 days.
2. On the 4th day, take what profits your work and learn from it.
3. Make Mardi Gras confetti out of the rest.
On the other side, if you’re a crit partner or a contest judge, use care with your words. Be sure you are critiquing the work not the writer. You can be tough and still deliver it with a gentle, encouraging hand.
Proverbs 12:25 says “…an encouraging word cheers a person up.” And that great theologian Mary Poppins said, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” It’s all in the manner the critique is delivered. Don’t soften wise counsel, but deliver it with a loving heart.
Finally, if you’re struggling with a sensitive spirit, read Proverbs one time with your writing career as the focus. Substitute the word “father” or “mother” with “crit partner” and “judge.” Wow! What an eye-opener.
Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. Her debut book Chapel Springs Revival released Sept 8th, 2014. She’s a playwright, a humor columnist and a syndicated blogger. She resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion.
What a blessing your encouraging spirit has been to so many, including me!
A tough skin is a good thing, and I have one. I want to make one more little point and that is tough does not equal ungracious or harsh. So, give the tough and ultimately helpful crit, but not arrogantly, or thoughtlessly. Even a tough-skinned writer needs some kindness thrown on top.:)