Some days, you wake up and feel like you can finish a novel in a month—and it’s not even November, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! Or you feel so on fire you could pitch and land an essay in The Paris Review and The New Yorker.
Then there are the other days.
On those days, you might have gotten a rejection from the magazine you queried. Or your writing group shredded your latest short story. Or your own self-doubt douses the fire and fills your mind with negativity. You feel dragged down and depressed.
I touched on those days in Episode 56, when you’re questioning why you ever thought you could write. When you feel like hanging it up ’cause you don’t think you have what it takes. On those days, you have to fight through that and refuse to listen to the voices and instead, create a volume of work. You’ve got to keep writing, even when you’re not on fire. Even when you have nothing more than a glimmer of hope, like a tiny flickering ember buried under the ash heap, about to go out.
That’s when you need to affirm reality to combat the discouraging lies.
You need to remember what’s true.
Because this writing life can be brutal.
The publishing world and the process of entering in feels a little like grade school gym glass or a dating game: “Pick me! Pick me!” or “Do you like me?” We submit to publishers—could be a book, could be an essay, could be a poem or article. The process is similar. We submit and wait and hope that maybe this time someone will feel an affinity with our work. Maybe someone will take a chance and offer a contract. Maybe.
Or not. And they send a rejection.
“Sorry, but we’re going to pass.”
“Doesn’t fit our editorial requirements at this time.”
“After careful consideration, we’re not accepting it for publication and hope you find a good fit for your work.”
Don’t base your worth or talent or future on a rejection. Feel free to revisit your work a few days later, after you’ve had a good cry, and see if you can improve anything. It’s possible your piece would benefit from edits.
But most of the time, a rejection simply means that one editor on one day at one publication is turning down this one submission.
So on a good day—it doesn’t have to be your on fire day; it can just be a regular old good day (maybe that’s today)—sit down with a pen and notebook, or a computer screen, or a typewriter and paper, whatever you use, and take on an assignment. You’re going to write something with a special reader in mind:
The future you.
The you who is going to doubt himself.
The you whose writing group is about to shoot down a poem you spent weeks revising.
The you who might wake up tomorrow and think, “I’m not a writer. Why even try?”
The you-on-a-good-day—which might be right now—can take time to sit down and write accurate, affirming statements. You need these on the hard days, to remind you of what’s true.
People of any age, especially people who are struggling with self-confidence, like writers, can benefit from positive, true statements about their strengths and abilities and worth. Affirmations do that.
So the current you, in a good place, sets up to coach the future you, when you’re in a hard place, by composing what some life coaches and creativity coaches call, as I said, “affirmations.” I was reminded of them recently in a book by creativity coach Eric Maisel, and by life coach Amanda Foust, who urges parents to use affirmations with themselves and their kids.
Today, when you’re feeling strong and clear-minded, think of some things that are true about you, about your writing, and about writing in general. I’ll offer some suggestions here and present them in first person, so you can say them to yourself, if you’d like:
- I am a writer. And writers write. Today, regardless of how I’m feeling, I will write.
- Only writers who risk rejection even have a chance at publishing success.
- When I get an acceptance and when I get a rejection, I’m doing the work of a writer.
- As I was preparing to take risks and send off my work, I learned a lot about the industry. I’m becoming a smarter, savvier writer.
- I can write, even when I don’t feel like a writer.
- I’m becoming a stronger, clearer, more talented writer.
These are the kinds of statements you can write to affirm what’s true about you.
Take time to write them as soon as possible. Use them as a creative writing project today, because you want them on hand for later. Feel free to use these for inspiration.
And then, when you’re having a tough day, whether from your own internal resistance or some external force that’s slammed you, go ahead and feel a little sorry for yourself, but not long. Maybe an hour. Or if it’s a big disappointment, maybe a day. Then brush yourself off and pull up these statements—these affirmations—to remind yourself what’s true.
Coach yourself. Affirm your own writing life.
And then it’s time to get back to work, because you are a writer.
Click on the podcast player above or use subscription options below to listen to the full episode.
- Ten Levels of Rejection (And What to Do About Them), by Nathaniel Tower
- I Didn’t Know Who I Was, by life coach Amanda Foust
- Coaching the Artist Within, a book by creativity coach Eric Maisel
- Episode #56: To Learn How to Write, You Have to Write
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Featured image by Ann Kroeker.
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