Thursday, July 14, 2011

Staying Inspired Is an Art

When it comes to writing, staying inspired is an art. Waiting for an editor to say you are talented enough—that they will publish your words—well, you could end up wrinkled and gray before that happens. This is a tough business. We all know how difficult it is to believe in yourself when you have nothing to show for years of effort. Your family and friends, even a beta reader or two, have all told you your writing is the freshest thing since this morning’s doughnuts, but without the validation of someone in the publishing world, it’s difficult to believe your cronies are a good judge of talent. Rejection after rejection letter can deflate even the most confident writer, and the sad thing about the situation is such dismissal may have little to do with one's abilities. So you keep searching for homes for your pet projects, all the while sagging under the weight of little substantiation.

How do you keep typing when yet another year passes without a sale? As I said staying inspired is an art. You have to play mind games with yourself to ease the pain, rev up the energy, and obey the muse encouraging your creativity. Here are a few ideas I like to use to help remove the negative voices in my head. Discouragement begins with a thought, and these diversions help to keep me in a positive mode.

Access inspirational stories—I love reading stories about writers who have struggled to climb the publishing ladder, who have had to overcome great obstacles before they finally made it into the publishing world. Their plights give me hope, and I can almost envision myself standing in their shoes.

Read other successful writers’ work—Nothing gets me more excited about writing than reading exceptional phrasing. I keep my favorite author’s books nearby, and when I feel a slump coming on, I read what I love about a particular author’s work and it starts the words flowing within me again.

Remember past rewards—If you have written for awhile, you most likely have a few successes under your belt. Look through your scrapbook. Read the inspiring comments a writer’s contest judge said about your work, or bring out the check stub from the article you sold years ago. That is validation, no matter how small, and it suggests you have some of what it takes for success in this business. Remember if you were successful once, you can be successful again.

Keep writing—You need to practice your craft. That’s the only way to grow and get better at what you do. Odds are if you keep writing, you’ll eventually get published.

Believe rejection puts you one step closer to your goal—Sylvester Stallone said, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.” Rejection should make you resolute and activate you to prove an editor wrong. Not in an obnoxious way; I’m not suggesting you should harass an editor, but use that rejection to inspire you to continue writing, to make your work better or to find another editor who sees your words from an entirely different perspective. As I said, odds are if you keep writing, you’ll eventually get published.

So...fill your lungs with air, blow out the discouragement, and sit down in the chair and type till you drop. But don’t forget—send out your manuscript as soon as you can. Your time to shine is just over the horizon.