Keep up your writing confidence. It’s one of the toughest hurdles in getting published, and it doesn’t even involve writing at all: waiting. Upon sending your query letter or manuscript to agents or publishers, the writer’s life soon becomes a lesson in patience. Maybe you’ve waited for a response—any response—for what feels like ages. Or perhaps you’ve already gotten dispiriting feedback: “This isn’t our fit, but we wish you the best of luck.”
This tedious stage can push even the most passionate of writers to the brink of frustration. I’ve seen plenty of authors doubt themselves, and even lose confidence in their goal or abandon hope entirely.
It is possible to soldier on without getting down on yourself. The key is reorienting your viewpoint. Follow these five tips to push past negative beliefs.
5 ways to lift your spirits:
1. Get back on the horse.
It’s a common trap when waiting to get stuck in being result oriented, instead of being process oriented. You start to think, “When will I get a response?” instead of remembering that writing is not a one-and-done situation. Just as master painters never stop painting, writers should commit with the same zeal.
Try this: Don’t stop writing, not even for a day. Tell yourself, “I am a writer.” Not, “I am waiting to get published.” Don’t sit and twiddle your thumbs or constantly refresh your inbox. Start another project immediately. Or, commit to writing in your journal once a day. Jot down ideas for future writing projects. This not only keeps you occupied, but could also lead to your next book.
2. Embrace the craft.
Instead of bemoaning your lack of progress or writing confidence, remind yourself why you fell in love with writing in the first place. Reexamining the art form can give you a creative boost and refresh your writer’s palate. You can also gain a clear understanding of how successful writers excelled at areas in which you may need improvement: conjuring lush, vivid descriptions, writing snappy, realistic dialog, or forming a compelling character arc, for example.
Try this: Reread your favorite books with intention. Dissect their craft, taking notes or scribbling in the margins. Determine what makes certain elements so great in your eyes. Question what inspires or informs your own writing. Once you remember exactly what compels you to write, you may remember how you can’t fathom living without it.
3. Summon your tribe.
Writing may be a solitary activity, but that doesn’t mean you’re in a vacuum. Turn to fellow writers, a powerful source of empathy and support, for encouragement. Especially if you’re feeling blue about a rejection or waiting anxiously for a response, it’s a relief to have like minded colleagues. You’ll remember that you’re not alone in your struggle, and might even get ideas for solutions.
Try this: Seek out others who will cheer you on. If you’re fortunate enough to have a circle of friends who are also engaged in creative endeavors, reach out to them regularly. Join a local writer’s group or attend a writer’s retreat. You can also hire support, such as a professional editor who can even help you understand why you’re not getting the enthusiastic response that you need.
4. Build your platform and your writing confidence.
Serious writers don’t delay acting like an author until their book comes out; they prepare way ahead of time. Doing this also gets you into the mindset of being process oriented—always having something productive to do that advances your goals—rather than sitting around and waiting for things to happen for you.
Try this: Build your writing confidence by creating your platform now. Launch a website, or make professional social media channels. This is not only exciting and uplifting, but reminds you of your higher goals. For concrete steps, check out this guide to taking yourself seriously as an author.
5. Turn lemons into lemonade.
Sometimes it’s hard to silence worries or banish fears entirely. If reciting a mantra, pursuing a fun distraction, or doing any of the above activities still won’t do it, it might help to embrace your anxiety. Write down your negative thoughts to accept and quell them. Who knows—what you pen might even end up in your manuscript, or turn into fuel for a new book or essay.
Try this: Sit down and set a timer for 10 minutes. Without pausing, free write why writing is so important to you, whether it is because of the thrill of putting words on a page or the dream of getting published.
These tips are derived from my book, The Novel-Maker’s Handbook. Read more tips like these along with other great writing advice, by purchasing your copy today.