Reclaiming Your Writing Life

As almost every author knows, a writer’s life can suck. The rejections pile up, and you start to doubt your abilities, and whether you possess an iota of talent. With over 100 rejections for one book alone I wrote less and less, until I wasn’t writing at all.

What inspired me to make fundamental changes in my writing life? Bluntly speaking, my age and health. I’m pushing 60 and have Crohn’s disease. The painful side-effects from the medication often served as just another excuse not to write.

No one knows how much time they have, but I made a conscious decision that if I was going to write, it was now or never. I dusted off several short stories, found an editor willing to work with me through Women On Writing (WOW), and got published twice with interest expressed in a third piece. With my confidence bolstered through being published, I’ve written eight new stories and completely reworked my novel.

Here are tips that helped me reclaim my ability to write and may work for you as well:

  • Pay attention to a publisher or agent who offers specific suggestions to improve your work. Just one publisher taking the time to give me feedback on my novel set me on the path to reworking it.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks. Last April I participated in an Author’s Guild sponsored auction and won the chance to have my manuscript reviewed by an industry professional. In September I headed to New York City and had a friendly critique of my book with this gentlemen.
  • Take another look at some of those old stories. If they’ve already been edited, find another editor to read your work. Different perspectives and encouragement can send you in a new and better direction you may never have considered.
  • Research potential markets carefully when submitting your work to contests or publications to be sure they are a good fit for your work. Too often, I haphazardly entered contests that weren’t the right match.
  • Find a way to deal with the barrage of rejection, so you can rise about it. For example, I have found it cathartic to experience the act of shredding paper rejections or the satisfaction of hitting delete.
  • Maintain notes on all agents queried, but particularly those who reject your work. This puts you more in control. Some examples: an agent that makes time to write a personal note is someone I will contact again with future projects. If the rejection is a form letter, the chances of further contact diminish. And, if the letter is copied many times over, that agency won’t be queried again.
  • Find what inspires you, continually hone your skills, and keep writing!

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