Like all writers I face rejection constantly. It’s as consistent as the bills. The question for those of us who do this is: How do you stay motivated at your most unmotivated?
For me rejection brings to mind torture devices from the darker paths of history. Put me in stocks. Pull out the thumbscrews. Chain me in the tower. Stretch me on the rack. Just don’t make me write when it feels like my dog writes better prose than I do. No offense, Moses.
Motivating myself to write when things are as dark as they can get is beyond difficult. It’s like hunting for a man after a painful divorce. Demeaning, devastating, deplorable. How do you force yourself to sit down to the keyboard after someone rips your work to shreds? The obvious answer is you sit your butt in the chair, and you do it because as a writer you have no other option. For most of us that’s true but it’s also true that each rejection makes it harder to repeat the process. .
It’s not like I enjoy being eviscerated. (And no matter how many times I tell myself it’s not personal, those words are mine and therefore, it’s very personal.) However, I can’t stop the voices in my head, and I can’t stop telling stories just because they aren’t perfect on the page yet or because I haven’t found the right editor or agent to read them yet.
In all honesty, sometimes the blistering criticism is accurate. My work is not done. And I’m not totally surprised by the criticism as some place deep down, I knew something wasn’t working. I wasn’t sure what, but I knew something was wrong. However, some of it is BUNK. A reviewer rushed, skimming rather than reading. Or makes suggestions that aren’t helpful or fitting to the work at hand.
The issue for a writer before they pull out the thumbscrews is to figure out which criticism is worth pursuing and which can be burned in effigy or placed on the rack and stretched until shredded.
Unfortunately, you have to let go of the pain of the rejection first. Having a support system can help. My critique group provides that. They provide a balance for me. Honestly agreeing with the reviewer when the advice is right and telling me to ignore it when it’s off the mark. But mostly, by acknowledging that this is part of the process, and we all go through it as writers. A form of hazing to find who has the wherewithal to keep going in the face of constant rejection. That is what gets me back behind the keyboard and willing to keep trying.
What keeps you in the game? Check out Natasha’s blog to see what she has to say about rejection.