Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Writers Learn On Their Journey

Easy enough to say but maybe not a piece of cake to find a lesson when life dishes out seeds of sadness. I do think we can learn from harsh moments in our lives. Also in our writing journey.

As writers, it sometimes feel like we set ourselves up for facing unpleasantness. We are well aware that by submitting our work, we may face rejections more than acceptances. Why in the world would be subject ourselves to the nasty feelings that accompany being told our writing is not worthy of being published? Even if the editor who rejected you did not say so in exact words, that's the message we pull from it.

We've all been there. Our reactions range from disappointment to anger to shedding tears to throwing something across the room. Sounds like a little kid who's been told NO, doesn't it? When we're upset, or hurt, we do seem to revert to childish reactions. If it serves to get the disappointment out of your system, fine. Go ahead and rant to a friend or let a few expletives fly.

Once you've calmed down, it's time to consider if there is a lesson to be learned. If you're lucky, the editor will give a reason that your work was not accepted. That gives you a head start in fixing the piece and submitting it again.

When you work on revising before submitting again, try to use objective eyes. Being too close to what we write is a major sticking point for many of us. Those are our precious words that the stranger didn't want. We toiled over the story, or article, a long time so why was it rejected? Oh, oh, there we go again--reacting like a kid. Step away from your submission for awhile before you start reworking it. You'll do much better if you let it alone for a few days.

There are also lessons to be learned when we're writing a story that doesn't feel right or appears flat when we read it over again. Ask yourself why? What is missing? Try a checklist to see what is or is not there. Use things like sensory detail, active vs passive verbs, too many adjectives etc in your list. Plot, theme, lesson learned--are all these positives or lacking? On occasion, I've written 1500 words and when I read it over, my reaction has been This is boring, drivel, or worthless. Then, I'm disgusted. Not over the story but with myself. Time to go back to square one after going through my mental checklist.

What if we submit a fine piece but don't follow the submission guidelines?  The story might bounce back immediately. One question to ask yourself is Did I follow the guidelines? Your rejection could be because of a simple thing like that.

There are myriad lessons to be learned from those harsh moment in our writing journey. It's up to us to sift and sort and find the lesson, then move on with newly acquired knowledge. The more lesssons we learn, the fewer rejections we'll have.

About the first part of today's quote, where it says When life is good, be grateful, pay close attention to those fine words.

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