Monday, June 25, 2018

Publishing vs. Encouraging

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

According to a song lyric by Linda Rondeau

Home, home in the industry
Where the writers and publishers play
Where seldom is heard 
An encouraging word
And the skies are so cloudy all day 

Thanks, Linda for letting me borrow the lyric. Yes, I've experienced discouragement in my writing journey. Maybe it was a rejection, or comments from a contest judge, but they threw ice cubes on my dreams. 

But I soon realized discouragement was not getting me anywhere and definitely not published. So, after I kicked a cabinet or two, I pulled up my big girl britches, toned my rhino skin and got over it.

The thing is I’ve never want to be told my work is wonderful if it isn't. How mortifying would that be? And how untruthful by the teller. 

Iron sharpens iron
I was blessed to find critique partners who love me enough to push me hard. We can't get our feelings hurt if we're told something doesn't work—not if we're serious about publishing. 

If you're serious, then you refuse discouragement. Turn your back on it, because it doesn't come from God. 

Now, before y'all string me up, I realize new writers are more sensitive than the veterans. But if you really want to publish, you've got to get over it. This industry is subjective and it's competitive. To get ahead, you have to be one of the best.

So, here's my advice. 

When you get discouraged, follow these steps:

1. Set the critiques or judge's comments aside for 3 days.
2. On the 4th day, take what profits your work and learn from it.
3. Make Mardi Gras confetti out of the rest.

On the other side, if you're a critique partner or a contest judge, use care with your words. Be sure you are critiquing the work not the writer. You can be tough and still deliver it with a gentle, encouraging hand. 

Proverbs 12:25 says " encouraging word cheers a person up." And that great theologian Mary Poppins said, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." It's all in the manner the critique is delivered. Don't soften wise counsel, but deliver it with a loving heart.

Finally, if you're struggling with a sensitive spirit, read Proverbs through once with your writing career as the focus. Substitute the word "father" or "mother" with "critique partner" and "judge." Wow! What an eye-opener.

Publishing versus encouraging - Wisdom from @AneMulligan on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet) 

How to cope with discouragement as a writer - @AneMulligan on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet tea.She's an award-winningnovelist and playwright whobelieves chocolate and coffee are two of the four major food groups. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, where she leads a Community Theatre troupe. You can find Ane at www.anemulligan.comor Amazon author page.


  1. Writing mimics our lives Ms. Ane. Thank you for your encouraging words ma'am. We each have to learn that good comes from bad. In our writing lives too. God's blessings ma'am.

    1. That's an interesting comment, and I think you're right. Thank you.

  2. Great advice! I always have to get away from criticism for awhile before I can assess it realistically. I like the confetti idea, too.

  3. It certainly can be hard to receive criticism. An effective strategy I've learned while giving my writing students feedback is to ask questions rather than make statements when I conference with them: "The character's motive isn't clear" becomes "What is the character's motive here?" I like using questions because they direct students to weaknesses but also allow them to make their own discoveries.

  4. Very good, Ane. I have had enough critiques that I can use just about anyone's critique, but a critique doesn't need to be rude and ugly to be helpful. Some that I've been given seem to believe that they need to be one or both of those things. Number two seems to be my approach. After I've read through, set aside, then I come back and analyze the critique and use what I can.