by Christopher Cornell
This problem is near and dear to me as I make strides toward becoming a professional writer. Maintaining enthusiasm is often harder than turning out a good read. Here are a few things I’ve learned from thoughtful others (or am attempting to learn, in spite of myself):
Write, write, write. Submit, submit, submit. The more you write, the less attached you become to each individual word. The more material you submit to markets, the less those individual “no thank you” letters matter. (Also, the more chances you have for an acceptance. Sounds logical, but I have to remind myself every so often.)
Remember the good. Keep good feedback on hand to pull out when the sea of rejections and bad notices reaches a high tide.
Have confidence in the reader. When you’re creating an entire world on the page, it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to convey every detail. Readers appreciate bring allowed to figure things out for themselves. And it’s okay for the story to hold different meaning for someone else. Of course, too much/not enough is a delicate balance. But once achieved, they’ll respect you.
Constructive criticism for the win. When someone tells you what doesn’t work for them as a reader, they are helping you strengthen your work. As long as noted problems are specific and fixable, everyone wins. “It sucks” doesn’t help, but “I lost interest at this point” certainly does.
People will hate your work. This can’t be helped. As a colleague recently impressed upon me, wanting to be liked by everyone is the mark of an amateur. Do what you do, and find your audience. Everyone else can read something else, and it’s just fine.
The interwebs are best served with a grain of salt. It’s a fact that people who are dissatisfied with something are far more likely to express their feelings. And sometimes it gets ugly. The perceived anonymity of the internet encourages some to indulge in behavior they wouldn’t dream of in person. (As an artist friend noted, “Whenever I start feeling too good about myself, I read reviews online.”) You know the drill: don’t feed the trolls. And don’t stoop to that level in return.
Write what you enjoy. If you love your work, others will, too. Then the trick becomes finding those others.
Failing that, Scotch works well. In moderation.
Christopher Cornell is a writer, musician, interface developer and somnambulist in California's East Bay. He has also studied film and television, and is a graduate of the Viable Paradise writers' workshop.
More information and inane anecdotes can be found on his website and on Twitter.