Wednesday, January 31, 2018

19 Things to Remember When the Writing Life Gets Tough

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

A writer’s journey is full of ups and downs. Sometimes we’re on top of the world—the words flow and the opportunities abound. Other times, well, not so much. 

Everyone who reads this blog knows I preach over and over that we can’t do this writing thing alone. But it’s hard to know what exactly what we need to do when difficult times hit. 

Today I’m going to share some things to remember when the going gets tough.

Remember These Things
1. A writing career is like the weather in Texas (or whatever state you happen to prefer). If you don’t like how it’s going, wait 10 minutes and it will change. 

2. This experience will make a good story. Remind them that they’ll look back on this when asked how it feels to be an overnight success.

3. Turn the rejection upside down, and use it to your advantage. When I first started as a freelance writer, I knew that if I received a certain number of rejections every month, then I get a certain number of acceptances. So I made my goal each month to reach a specific number of rejections.

4. You are a good writer. Success has nothing to do with perfection. We all have those awful voices that live in our heads trying to convince us our writing stinks. It helps to have other writers tell us the truth.

5. Your time will come. No matter how much talent we start out with, it’s perseverance that gets us over the finish line. 

6. There truly is plenty of work to go around. We work for a big God and He has plans for this gift He’s given us.

7. Every writer’s journey is different. Writers are masters a comparison. We try to judge our own worth by what others have or have not accomplished. We need to look within, not without when measuring our success.

8. Failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. More often than not it’s also the shortest path to success. Learn from your mistakes, isn’t just a cliché, it’s a truth. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail, learn what you can and keep moving forward.

9. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. All writers struggle with fear—fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of success. The key is to fight. Don’t give up, don’t give in.

10. You’re not alone. Your writing friends won’t leave you behind. Just like number 5, all our journeys are different. But we’re on the path together.

11. These sudden shifts are an opportunity, instead of a liability. For example, if the bottom drops out of the genre you’re writing with traditional publishers, look at the opportunities with smaller houses or self publishing.

12. Comparison is a deadly trap to be avoided at all costs. There are always going to be people ahead of us, behind us, and right beside us. We all have different gifts and God has a different—special—plan for us all. Comparison isn’t accurate and it can be deadly.

13. Remember the WHY to get through the HOW. When difficult times come, it’s the why that will carry us through. Write down why you write. Post it above your desk and let it remind you why you’re here.

14. We’re not responsible for the results, only the work. We can’t guarantee ourselves publication at any particular time or with any particular company. What we can do is write with excellence. If we do that, publication will follow.  

15. We live in one of the best times ever to be a writer. It’s easy to look at all the changes and general chaos as nothing but negative. The truth is though, we can reach more people through our words than ever before. And anyone who wants to reach the world through words needs a writer to help them.

16. Writing is a journey, not a destination. When we get started on the writing road, we mistake milestones for destinations. It’s easy to think there’ll be a time when we’ve arrived. Truthfully, that never happens. Each achievement is just a gateway to the next part of our writing journey.

17. Prayer changes things. It doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it always changes us.

18. You haven't failed until you quit. That truly is the only way to fail completely as a writer. 

19. Remember an instance when you faced disappointment. Remember what what has gone before, and walk through this time with that memory firmly in place.

What has someone said to you that has helped when you've faced a writing disappointment? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. Edie,

    Thank you for this series of encouraging tips. There are many things in the world of writing to knock us off our game. Those who succeed know these challenges and keep going in spite of them. Persistence and perseverance are great teachers as we search for the right place for our writing to appear. It is different for each of us and each of us need to keep going.

    Straight Talk From the Editor

  2. Thank you for the reminder to keep going forward. Praying to hear God clearly.

  3. Inspiring and encouraging! Blessings, Edie! Keep writing like this.

  4. While all are true, numbers seven and nine are key to my perseverance as one of God's scribes. God's blessings Ms. Edie...

  5. Something in this list applies to a writer right now, no matter where they are along the writing road! (And ain't it the truth about the weather?)

  6. I'm rather pragmatic with a bunch of analytical thrown in (sometimes I think it's an issue of criticism), so I look at editorial comments more often than not reflecting on my poor writing ability. At the BRMCWC last year, I used one of my 15 minute appointments to talk to Aaron Gansky. He asked why I wanted to talk to him and I replied, "To get a man's perspective on my story." After he read a few pages he said something like, "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. This writing is better than you give yourself credit for." It was an exceptional piece of news for me and helped get past a stumbling block. And yes, I realize what he read appeared after multiple edits, but isn't that the journey? Thanks for the encouragement, Edie.

  7. Edie, I love "Remember the WHY to get through the HOW." It's all about the "why."

  8. It's so easy to let discouragement get me down in writing. Especially when the rejections come in. But the only way to fail is to quit, as you said. Thank you for the encouragement!

  9. The biggest blessing in my life has been an encourager. And I'm blessed to have my husband in that role. It took some fits and starts early in our marriage for him to realize the influence he has on my writing, but now, he's my biggest fan. So says I in my dedication of Loose Ends!

  10. All writers should save this and reread it once a month or whenever we have doubts (daily). We live in such an isolated writing world that it's hard to pull back and see the big picture.
    Thanks for sharing.