Monday, December 23, 2019

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 that puppy you've invested so much time on, 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.


Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw Mary Martin in PETER PAN, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. Years later, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her websiteAmazon Author pageFacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and The Write Conversation.  


  1. "You can be tough and still deliver it with a gentle, encouraging hand." Such an important reminder and guidance Ms. Ane. Being a critique partner requires us to have a critical eye, but not be critical of the writer. It's a fine line sometimes, but there's a good way to deliver even bad news; and that's with compassion and understanding. There's also a chasm of difference between being an editor, a mentor/coach, and a critique partner. Each require different skills and approaches; and each require the writer to understand what they expect from each of those roles. Wonderful, inspiring comments ma'am. God's blessings and Merry CHRISTmas!

    1. Wise words, J.D. I haven't been an editor but I've coached, mentored, judged contests, and I've had the same critique partners for 15 years. We "grew up" in the business together. We're hard on each other but loving.

  2. When I receive edits on a piece, my first reaction is "NO! I can't change that!" Allowing it sit for a few days lets me put things in perspective. Also if the editor has put in encouraging remarks, then I feel like she gets my writing and her requests for change seem more reasonable.

    1. So true! Amazing how our perspective changes when we let it sit for a bit.

  3. Ane, your post is so timely. A contest judge just sent back scathing comments laced with sarcasm, about a poem I entered. Another person who judged the same poem, gave kind, encouraging words, and even said the poem made her cry. (I think it was the good kind of crying.) The first judge poked a hole in my parachute and I landed with a thud. Now I think I'm ready to start writing again. Thanks for your encouraging post.

  4. I'm so glad it encouraged you. Some people shouldn't be contest judges. I remember once I was doing paid critiques for a writing conference. I received one entry that was so raw, it was obvious the writer was new at it. I asked another author how they handled those where almost everything needed work. She wisely told me to pick a couple of areas and focus on those. I went back and did those, and I'm so glad I did. When I reached the end of her story, the twist came from so far out of left field, I never saw it coming. I was able to tell her that while her writing needed a lot of work on the mechanics of writing, she was definitely a born storyteller. Because of that, she was able to accept the "here's what's wrong" comments. I'm so glad I asked that other author how to handle that one.

  5. I truly appreciate the encouragement from other writers. :-)