New Writers: Developing a Thick Skin.

As writers, we are told one of the things we need to have in this writing venture is a thick skin; especially when we are just starting out. The sooner we start giving our work to beta readers and submitting, the better our chances of developing this thick skin. There are, however, certain obstacles that prevent us from doing so. One in particular comes instantly to mind โ€“ fear.

For years, I spent the vast majority of my time happy in my little writing cave; my work never seeing the light of day. I had grown accustomed to the outward negativity towards my career choices, be they writing related or otherwise. My best defence was to keep quiet, but continue writing regardless. The only disadvantage to this was that I knew that one day, for me to become published; I would have to let others see my work eventually.

It became a gradual metamorphosis. I attended writing groups, where I always preferred to be the last one to read my work. My hands would shake and I could feel the heat rise in my chest and quite a few times people would ask me to speak up. Yet in the end, I found the others in the groups to be helpful and saw the potential in my writing. It was around this time that I began blogging, gradually putting myself out to an even bigger audience. By doing these two things, I began to grow that thick skin and submitted my work to publications and entering competitions. I had some poetry published in a small publication and won a writing competition. Things were looking up, but I still had a long way to go because the feeling of fear never left me.

The feeling of fear I felt (and still do) was not one of failure, but actually one of vulnerability. Putting myself out there for all the world to see would leave me exposed, open to abuse and ridicule. This was always the dilemma. It was a Catch-22 that I had to come to terms with and develop that thick skin sooner or later.

It has only been within the last twelve months that I might finally be getting better at this. I have some new beta readers who are helpful and encouraging and are only too keen to read more of my work (so thank you). ๐Ÿ™‚ Recently, I submitted a short story to an anthology, but received word that I was unsuccessful. Usually I would be down in the dumps for a few days at least, but not this time. This time, I accepted it, shrugged and moved on. I was quite surprised at how calmly I had taken it. Years of study at University taught me that writing is subjective.

Iโ€™m still working on developing that thick skin as I have yet to have my stories published, but it has taken me years to reach this level. I usually find, more often than not, whenever Iโ€™m afraid of something, things usually turn out better than what I had expected. There is a lot of truth in the saying โ€˜the only thing we have to fear is fear itselfโ€™.

What steps have you taken to develop a thick skin? Does fear prevent you from sending your work out or getting critiqued? Have you allowed the negativity of others to control your life?

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Main Image courtesy of Pixabay

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4 thoughts on “New Writers: Developing a Thick Skin.

  1. Sometimes a story just isn’t right for a certain publication, but with a few tweaks (mostly just to fit theme) it is a perfect fit for another. Each rejection tells us that we’re taking a chance, that we’re getting better (’cause we’re constantly tweaking that story) and that we’re real writers (real writers don’t give up, they keep writing). It’s something I have to remind myself of every day. Listening to the Rocky theme (Eye of the Tiger) also helps ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Hi Ronel. I agree that each rejection means we’re getting better, we just have to keep picking ourselves up and keep on going. We’ll eventually hit pay dirt – after all, there’s got to be some pay off for why we keep torturing ourselves! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Good for you!

    I’ve been at this writing gig a long time, so I’m pretty used to rejection. But just the other day, I received one that really stung because I’d been so excited about the publication. I let myself wallow a bit then moved on. It’s what we writers do. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks Madeline! Yeah, this is a tough business and there does come a time when you begin to doubt yourself and wonder if it’s all worth it. It can take an awfully long time to finally start making some headway. I don’t know if there’s enough chocolate on the planet to compensate! Best of luck with it Madeline – I know you’ll get there! ๐Ÿ™‚

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