Writing: Focus on the Positive.

Recently in a blog post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, there was discussion regarding the thought of quitting the writing life. Quitting because our work gets rejected, because we think what we are writing is rubbish and because we feel we are not going to make it as a writer. But despite all of that, a lot of us still keep going.

Rejections can hurt. I know; I’ve been there too. For me, sending my work out is the hardest part when it comes to this writing process. I’ve entered competitions, sent my short stories to magazines, and more often than not, hear nothing but crickets in reply. Rejections can be seen as a learning curve, because the more effort we put into our craft and the more times we send our work out, eventually, we begin to see some progress.

One of the first pieces I ever had published was regarding the birth of my first child. I had sent it off without giving it a second thought and was pleasantly surprised to receive a cheque and a couple of copies of the magazine as payment with my piece inside. About eight years ago, I submitted a couple of chapters of my first novel to a competition and became one of six successful applicants. The prize was attendance at a writer’s festival, with meals and accommodation paid for, as well as a writer’s workshop. Of-course, opportunities like these would never have happened if I gave up.

There can be a lot of toxic people out there too. People who don’t want you to pursue writing and/or become successful. Speaking from personal experience, it’s hurtful when those toxic people are members of your own family. Because of my obstinate nature, I saw this as a challenge and began doing courses, where I received positive feedback. It was this that kept me going. If you are surrounded by toxic people, you need to do something similar or join a writing group and/or be part of the writing community online.

I think it’s easy to be discouraged when we receive negative feedback. Sometimes, it’s as if we are expecting it! If we tell ourselves we’re not good enough often enough, we begin to believe it. So, when we begin to receive positive feedback, we can be pleasantly surprised and I think they stay in our minds a heck of a lot longer. Write them down if necessary, but keep them safe and close to you, maybe even pinned to your wall at your desk. Since I began this writing journey, these are the ones that stick out the most for me over the years:-

You have great potential. Something I don’t say to just anyone.

I can see this story as a film.

This is like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Your writing is macabre.

This is great – no, brilliant!

You’ll get published one day. It’s just a matter of when.

I really like this. I think it’s the best thing you’ve written so far.

Some years ago, a clairvoyant once told me that I would make money from my writing. Now, whether you believe in fortune telling or not, you have to admit that saying such a thing to a writer is a positive thought. 😉

Praise for our writing is encouraging and despite all the rejections and disappointments we may get (and we will), we can always refer to the times when we have been given those small words of hope. It’s little things like these that keep us going.

What keeps you going as a writer? What is the nicest thing someone has said to you about your writing? Do you have toxic people in your life? Do you find it difficult to send your work out?

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6 thoughts on “Writing: Focus on the Positive.

  1. I sweat profusely after I hit the send button on submissions because rejection is never easy. My father is probably the most toxic person to my writing. My friends and complete strangers that I meet on social media are a good portion of who keeps me going because they support me and don’t even know me. And my mother who passed away many many years ago provides me with the strength of the unknown to keep going.

    1. Hi Savannah. I know exactly what you mean about hitting the send button. I get so nervous, that I have to go for a walk or something to help calm my nerves. My mum has always been the toxic one for my writing. After one conversation with her about it when I was younger, I swore I would never mention it to her again. Since that day, I never tell her anything and if she asks, I give the the briefest of details. I learnt the hard way and swore never again. Funny how complete strangers, whether they be on the internet, writer’s group or in general can be so supportive. It’s good to know that there are such people in this world and I find the writing community extremely helpful and friendly. Sorry to hear about your mum, Savannah. I find similar comfort in the knowledge that my dad, who passed away some years ago, is watching over me and encouraging me in his own, quiet way. Hugs to you. 🙂

  2. I think the most meaningful remark anyone has made to me in regards to writing was when someone read one of my reviews and remarked “Even the language used hearkens back to Herbert’s original writing.” The idea that in the process of analyzing and understanding a well known novel, that I had somehow imbibed some of their style, that truly struck me as a hopeful chord.

    I think on some level what keeps me going, among other things, is a certain curiosity about how far I can go. Writing has been an ongoing effort for much of my life, and in some ways there is a simple curiosity about how far I can go with it. Beyond that there’s an earnest desire to spend as much of my life as possible doing things that I find fulfilling, that make me forget about the rest, and get lost in the moment, and at the moment writing seems like the most likely candidate for “earning a living” through one of those things.

    I don’t think I have too many toxic people in my life. I think the biggest challenge is balancing writing with other things. There are invariably times where housework and general maintenance need doing, and even though I find time to write, part of me wonders “what if I’d spent even more time today on writing?” But yeah, I don’t think I’ve known too many who would try to dissuade me from writing. In that regard I’ve been rather lucky.

    1. Hi Adam. I like that feedback you received from your review, it sounds like you hit the right chord with that person. You’re fortunate you’ve never had to worry about having too many toxic people in your life; their words can be very disheartening and leaves a lot of self-doubt. And yes, I’d rather be writing than doing housework any day! It’s when I start collecting antique dust I figure that’s the time to step away from the keyboard. 😉

      1. Ah yes, the pesky housework that invariably encroaches on our writing time. But then no matter how good the world might become, I feel like as storytellers we can always imagine both better and worse.

        I am fortunate that I have not encountered many toxic people in my life, though I also find that my own doubts are quite relentless, though I’ve often suspected that is par for the course of being an artist.

      2. Yes, you’re right there. We creative types can be our own worst critics! 😉

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