When your writing has progressed to the point where agents routinely offer your work to publishers, you may think you’re home free. Not so fast. The reality is that no matter what phase of the writing journey you’re on, there will be the constant pressure to do more, write another winner, rack up bigger sales. Believe it or not, even famous writers still feel the sting of bad reviews. And established writers often go through their own deserts, when nothing seems to line up right.
Writing Tip for Today: What can you do to shield your fragile ego in this brutal but wonderful vocation?
- Detach. You’ve heard writers must have thick skins. I don’t always believe this–I am the way I am and I feel what I feel. Yet, (and I take this from Al-Anon) you can detach yourself from your writing by remembering that an attack on your writing is not an indictment of you as a person. Even the meanest critique is about the writing not the writer. Or should be.
- But How Do I? Sounds easy, isn’t. Detachment requires you to put your self-esteem in a different basket from your writing dreams. How best to accomplish this is up to you, but I 1) always have multiple projects going at once, so as not to put all my eggs in one basket and 2) use the 24-hour rule. For 24 hours after I receive gut-wrenching disappointment, I allow myself to moan, groan and hold a huge pity party. But then, next day, it’s BIC and back to work.
- Writing is a Craft. You can learn a craft. You didn’t start off those piano lessons playing Carnegie Hall (OK those of you who did don’t count). Writing takes skill, and you’re working on those skills. You won’t improve if you allow rejections to keep you from practicing. Your writing apprenticeship will likely be cluttered with all forms of the word, “NO.” It isn’t you they’re saying “no” to. If you want to be a pro, jettison peer jealousy (it’s never going to be fair), learn to detach your ego from your work, and get busy. Writing is its own cure.