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The Kick You Just Might Need To Keep Writing

once upon a time

Many fellow writers and clients of mine have struggled with feelings of inadequacy and waning motivation, especially those who have experienced repeated rejections from publishers. Nancy Strauss of Creative Writing Now has some encouraging facts to share about some highly successful writers while offering some excellent pointers for the rest of us:

– J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel was initially rejected by twelve publishers.
– William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES was rejected by twenty. One of the publishers described it as “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”
– Thirty publishers rejected Stephen King’s first novel, CARRIE.
– Kathryn Stockett’s novel THE HELP was rejected sixty times before it was published and became a bestseller and then a movie.

If you really want to be a writer, you have to have the right mindset.

Here’s the WRONG mindset:

– “I’ll give writing one shot to see how it goes.”

If Stephen King had had that mindset, he would have stopped trying long before he published a novel. It wouldn’t have mattered whether he was talented. His writing would have never had a chance. That’s why persistence is such an important trait for your success, much more so than talent. If you are talented but give up, then your writing will go nowhere. On the other hand, if you keep writing persistently, your writing will improve through practice.

Here’s the RIGHT mindset for a serious writer:

– “I’m going to keep working until I reach my goals.”

Writers keep working until they…
– build the skills to produce writing they’re proud of
– find the right readers for their writing.

I’ll end this e-mail with a few quotes from successful writers on the topic of persistence:

“You will be published if you posses three qualities: talent, passion and discipline. You will probably be published if you possess two of the three qualities in either combination — either talent and discipline or, passion and discipline. You will likely be published if you possess neither talent nor passion but still have discipline. But, if all you possess is talent or passion, if all you possess is talent and passion, you will not be published.”
— Elizabeth George, WRITE AWAY

“Mere literary talent is common; what is rare is endurance, the continuing desire to work hard at writing.”
— Donald Hall

“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”
— Ray Bradbury

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