Writing Wednesday: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing with Setbacks

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Criticism, whether it’s constructive or disparaging, can hurt. Unfortunately a harsh reality of being an author, especially an aspiring-to-be-published one, is that you are going to receive more than your fair share of it. We can offer all the encouraging advice that we want for keeping your head up and moving on, but when you have just received a biting comment or rejection slip, it can be hard to see past the pain.

So keep these five mantras in mind the next time you find yourself dealing with a setback or even a failure, and you may just emerge stronger than ever.

1) What Doesn’t Kill You…

We are as tired of this cliché as you are, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Every piece of advice, constructive criticism or even straight-up insult you receive about your writing helps to build your strength and character – both as a writer and as a person. You will survive any momentary hurt feelings and, if you can find the lesson in the middle of it, will grow from the experience.

2) You Are Not Your Work

Writing can be a very personal endeavour but no matter how intimate it may be, your craft is not you. When someone criticises or rejects your work, it is not a rejection of you as a person. Take a breather before reacting emotionally to a piece of feedback and moving forward will feel a lot less overwhelming.

3) Some Truly Terrible Books Get Published

If you are more of a glass-half-empty type, then maybe a dose of reality is just what you need to keep going. There are some awful books out there, and hey – they managed to get published! Just keep trying and you are bound to find the right publisher for your substantially better-written work. And don’t just take our word for it! Skip to around the fifty-second mark of the video below to get some great advice straight from Stephen King.

4) Someone Else’s Success Is Not Your Failure

There are not a finite number of books allowed to be published each year. So if someone else’s submission was chosen over yours, or a friend gets published and you don’t, that’s not the end of the road for you. Just keep looking for your opportunity and be ready for success (and stay humble) when it comes your way.

5) You Are Not Alone

From being jailed or exiled for their writing, like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Victor Hugo, to receiving demoralising rejection slips, like the authors listed in this Writing Wednesday post, writers throughout the ages have suffered criticism and setbacks. If you ever need a pick-me-up, simply go online and search “famous author rejection” and you will find an endless list of examples that will prove you are in good company.

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