Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Writer’s Block Or Submission Block?

by PeggySue Wells @PeggySueWells

Playing to Win the Publishing Game

There are two types of writers. Those that submit for publication and those that don’t. In the writing industry, the difference between players and spectators is frequently determined by who takes the next step.

While the unpublished group may claim writers’ block, professional writers are adamant that writers block is as mythical as Nessy the Loch Ness Monster. 

“A professional writer doesn’t wait for inspiration any more than a professional plumber waits for inspiration to lay a pipe.” After spending his first forty years as a Texas cowboy, John Erickson is the author of 60 some Hank the Cowdogbooks. “A professional plumber knows some principles like you don’t lay a pipe uphill or in frozen ground, but he lays that pipe. Professional writers write. I write four hours a day, seven days a week because I’m fanatical about that because that’s what I do.”

Batter Up

Are your projects stuffed in a drawer, or stored on computer files? Submission block is like a batter that refuses to swing. Opportunities wing past. 

What are you afraid of? Rejection? Success? Both? Taking action that will change the status quo of your life? Is the dream of one day being a published author greater than your courage to go after it?

Even a rejection proves you are in the game. A participant rather than a spectator. A “no, thank you,” is not calling your baby ugly. It is a step closer to connecting with the agent or publisher that shares your passion for the project. It is valuable feedback. Behind a “no” is generally three plays. 
  • The piece does not fit with the purpose of the publisher. For instance, a publisher of non-fiction books is not interested in novels. 
  • There are similar projects already available or in process. 
  • The writing needs improvement.

A homerun response is an enthusiastic yes followed by that favorite call, “Check enclosed.” 

Get in the Game

If submission block is keeping you out of the publishing game, here are moves to get you playing:
  • Accountability. Tell someone you will submit on or before a specific date. 
  • Submit your best work knowing it may not be perfect. 
  • Approach an editor as an eager team player. Be coachable.
  • Like athletes, writers improve with practice. Every time you submit, you take a swing at the ball. 

Betcha’ a cold ballpark hot dog and warm soda that your publishing home run average improves when you submit your work.


Tropical island votary and history buff, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of twenty-eight books including The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise. Optimistic dream-driver, PeggySue is named for the Buddy Holly song with the great drumbeat. At school author visits, she teaches students the secrets to writing, and speaks at events and conferences. Connect with her at www.PeggySueWells.com, on Facebook at PeggySue Wells, and Twitter @PeggySueWells. 


  1. I'd add one more to your reasons for rejection: lack of platform. Publishers want to sell books, and if you do not have an audience of ready-made buyers, the chances are slim that you will sell enough to make it worth their while to publish. I've seen this noted on almost every rejection I have received!

  2. Submission block is real. I have met a few of them at writers conference.
    I rather submit and be rejected although those rejections hurt.

  3. Well said Ms. Peggy Sue. "You can never hit a homerun if you're afraid of striking out." Sometimes it's difficult to resubmit your work, especially after a rejection. I'm learning that it isn't a "you stink" response, but a case of it's not where God wants it. Thanks for the encouraging words ma'am.