Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer School for Writers - Session #1 Beat Defeat!

Since one of the most universal ailments writers suffer at one time or another is self-defeat, discovering ways to combat it are essential.Goals, by definition, require effort to be achieved, and sometimes their success doesn't depend solely on us. Since the act of conquering our goals always hovers on a precipice and can easily tumble into an abyss, we should do the following to prevent ourselves from succumbing to defeat:

Encircle ourselves with a team of backers. We're like quarterbacks in a football game. We have a job to do and we're going to put ourselves out there to do it. But we need defenders. We need a few people around us who will protect us from the potential onslaught heading our way. Family, critique buddies, readers, and spiritual mentors are our defensive linemen. They encourage us, pray for us, and sometimes just tell it to us straight.

Stay abreast of changes in the industry as much as time allows. Publishing, and even style preference is changing almost daily. It's a lot to keep up with. For example, a few years ago we never heard of "deep point of view". Now we must be students of it in our stories. And the bursting world of eBook publishing invites us to try something new almost weekly. But doing our best to follow the changes, whether it's just reading a few blogs each week, subscribing to a magazine like The Writer or Christian Fiction Online Magazine, or joining some publishers' group pages, will help us to not feel totally lost.

Establish clear goals that will help you keep your passion and determination alive. Michael Hyatt wrote a post about how important it was to have written goals. Having them clearly defined makes it more likely that they can and will be achieved. It gives us the mental impetus we need in order to keep pushing toward them. Make a list today. What are your goals for the next week, month, season?

Ignore harsh criticism. (I've been a homeschooler for many years, and I know something about critics, let me tell you.) There will always be those who wonder why you want to"waste" your time writing something when you don't even know if it'll ever be published. And there are also plenty of others who will call it drivel when it is, sometimes out of meanness, sometimes because they don't favor your genre, sometimes out of jealousy, and sometimes because it makes them feel good to put somebody else down. On the other hand, critics who offer helpful advice and who offer it tactfully are a Godsend. Don't be afraid to ask them questions, and take what you can use, but toss out the rest. As for the naysayers, if their advice isn't helping you, why bother listening to it?

Recognize rejection as a necessary part of success. Perseverance makes you stronger. Constant use and reuse of your writing skills is like a physical workout. You have to tear down muscle to make it stronger. If your work is rejected by an editor, ask yourself what will make it better. But also ask yourself whether or not the timing might have just been bad. Many editors and publishers will tell you that they often reject a piece simply because they already accepted something similar or that they are full up. Timing plays a huge role. But each and every time you are rejected you will have learned something about your work or the process. Nothing is lost. You are one step closer to success the next time.

Never admit defeat!

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