Monday, October 25, 2021

What to do When a Writer Gets Discouraged

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

When I began writing my first manuscript, I was so sure I’d be published right away. And why not? It was brilliant. A wonderful story of Biblical characters we all know and love. What’s not publishable in that?

I soon found out.

Home, home in our gig
Where publishers play flip-your-wig
Where seldom is heard
An encouraging word
And nobody gives a fig

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. 

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 wanted 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 flip 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. 

The great theologian Mary Poppins said (paraphrasing Proverbs 12:25), "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 WEBSITE, AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST and THE WRITE CONVERSATION.


  1. Well said Ms. Ane. Loved Point #2 above; and of course your comment about kind counsel. Not everything a critique partner, editor, or agent is "pure gold". Never take comments personally, consider everything, use what can help you grow and become better. Well said ma'am.

  2. Loved the encouraging post. I have faced some discouraging rejections. Disappointment is a big part of the writing path.
    Thank you, Ane.

    1. Ingmar, I have, too, and that's where I drew from for this post. But through prayer and perseverance, God always gave me encouragement. And that's why I knew I had to offer some.

  3. Ane, what a delightful post! I sang the song to my husband and he thought it was funny, too. Seriously, what you shared was most encouraging and I appreciate it!


  4. If the criticism is harsh, read Job. Nobody had it worse than Job.