(art by Luke Carvill)
Fighting Despair When You’re Not Selling or Getting Acceptances
The next person who tries to comfort me by telling me Van Gogh only sold one picture in his lifetime will get an ear in the mail. He is not my role model. I love my family and friends and their warm, loving support, but it is not the same as commercial success or peer recognition.
I want to be paid for what I write. This is not to say I am in it for the money, or have unrealistic expectations of success. I just want to sell my self-published works to strangers, and I want an agent to be interested enough in my manuscript to want to represent it. I want a publisher to accept my novel. My goal is to have enough earnings to pay for a nice vacation.
Creativity for its own sake is an enjoyable hobby. I have no interest in starting a craft business for sewing or paper arts. While I share my creations on this blog, it’s not in hopes of finding a patron of the arts to put me in a gallery. Nope, just “hey, look at this, it was fun to make.”
For me, writing is different. While it is fun, it is also connected with my hopes and dreams. It is hard to keep pushing along, especially with the hard, serious stuff of revision, without knowing that a goal is attainable. It is difficult to receive rejection after rejection and still believe that you can be published, that maybe your next work will have readers. It is nearly impossible to keep your ego out of the equation, and to keep writing with confidence. Your brain wants to avoid pain, and if you start associating pain with your goals, you hit resistance. Instead of writing, I’m cleaning, watching tv, surfing the internet, starting a craft project, reading, arguing with people inside my head or thinking about work. It’s like trying to put magnets together the wrong way. Part of me is straining to reach my project while another part is shoving away with all my strength.
Strategies for Fighting Writer’s Block
- have an established writing time every day, and don’t do anything else during that time (turn off internet, block other distractions)
- read books about writing
- research topic you are writing about
- break large goal into smaller goals, and reward progress
- write for one person, either imaginary or someone you know, as your target audience
- join a writer’s group and get feedback
- make a game out of sending out queries to agents
- make your writing spot a pleasant place to be, and only do writing there
- find a role model who’s done what you want to accomplish
- keep finding ways to push past the resistance
Any of you having the same struggle? What keeps you going?