If I could tell an aspiring or discouraged writer only one thing, it would be to never give up, despite the reality of rejection. Once at a writing seminar, a speaker said that to be considered a “real writer,” you must experience at least five rejections. I found this humorous, because I used to keep a manila file folder for negative replies, before the advent of electronic rejections. When the file grew discouragingly bulky, I stopped saving them.
“Even though we are not going to be representing your book, use this (rejection) letter to line your cat’s litter box and keep writing.”
Over a decade ago, there was one creative response I’ve never forgotten. Initially, the national literary agent declined my manuscript proposal tactfully. Then he added, “Even though we are not going to be representing your book, use this letter to line your cat’s litter box and keep writing.”
“Keep writing!” Here’s the primary key for most folks who have been successful in their writing career. They have mustered the emotional stamina and maintained the self-discipline to write with scheduled regularity, perfecting their art to become the best wordsmith they can be.
As writers we can offer a multitude of excuses for why we should abandon our craft. For instance, since living through a pandemic and record inflation, it seems the calls for submissions in various categories have become even more limited and competitive.
Plus, deceitful opportunists masquerading as legitimate publishers have financially scammed countless Indie authors out of thousands of dollars or maybe a professionally completed book. Still, there are reputable self-publishers who continue to be honest and fair. But an author has to extensively investigate a potential publisher before they sign on the dotted line and hand over their book baby.
Yet these challenging circumstances don’t give us permission to abandon God’s calling and metaphorically lay our pens aside. Rather we need to pray and ask our heavenly Father to give us His wisdom and to show us open doors for our gifting as a wordsmith and then we need to be faithful to walk through those doors.
“We learn by practice,” said the late Martha Graham who is referred to as the mother of Modern Dance. The famous dancer and choreographer explained, “Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.”
Therefore, it only makes sense that one learns to write by writing. That’s not always easy though, because like most wannabe authors, for years I had to work a day job to pay the bills. This means when your friends are chatting over coffee, enjoying the beach, or going to a movie, you have to sacrifice your free time for your writing projects.
Learn to write with excellence and to closely follow submission guidelines. Listen to your editors, since they are often the ones in charge of making a piece the best it can be and don’t be late for a deadline or your submission will most likely never see the light of day.
Then there is the tricky feat of continuing to believe in yourself when literary achievement has eluded you. To combat this, at another seminar I gleaned the importance of sending out a new submission for every rejection.
It would have been easy for me to believe that as a writer, I wasn’t that good, despite some sporadic success. Rejection does that. It makes us compare ourselves to others, which is always a dangerous and non-Biblical practice. Besides, some of my colleagues are award-winning national communicators.
Yet over the decades, I had never won any writing awards. Then I happened to read the now classic book, “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” subtitled, “How my mother raised 10 kids on 25 words or less” by the late Terry Ryan.
Evelyn Ryan, [no relation to me] supported her large family in the 1950s and 60s by writing contest jingles. Somehow, reading about the now deceased Mrs. Ryan’s indomitable spirit made me realize that even though the odds are definitely stacked against a freelance or contest submission, you just never know.
This was my mindset when I sent several submissions to the former National Amy Writing Awards in January 2012. In no way, had I ever dreamed that out of more than 700 submissions nationwide, my article, “Finding Forgiveness” written for The Lima News would be selected as the $10,000 First Prize winner.
In the Bible there is a promise that God will supply our needs. Evelyn Ryan needed to win money and prizes to support her large family and she did. In the autumn of my writing career, I earnestly needed to know that my perseverance as a writer had been the right life path. Winning the $10,000 First Place National Amy Writing Award was my humbling answer. An answer, I took all the way to the bank.
Despite rejection, keep writing! Miracles still happen, so don’t give up.
After all, there had been well-meaning family members and friends along my writing journey who cautioned me to abandon my work as a freelance journalist/author and to pursue another path that offered more monetary rewards. As a writer, maybe you can relate to discouraging comments coming from folks you care about. Because the truth is, most writers never do achieve monetary success as the world sees it.
That’s no reason to quit, if you love to write. Instead make sure you continue to practice your craft to the best of your ability. Join a writing group, attend a writer’s conference, take creative writing classes at a local college, or volunteer somewhere you can put your writing skills to good use. Remember too, good writers tend to be prolific readers.
In closing, I am praying for you, my fellow writer. May you continue to hone the craft that is an incredible gift from God. Despite rejection, keep writing!
Christina Ryan Claypool is a past National Amy and Ohio APME award-winning freelance journalist/speaker who has been featured on Joyce Meyer Ministries Enjoying Everyday Life TV show and on CBN’s 700 Club. She is also a five-time Chicken Soup for the Soul story contributor, and the author of several Christian recovery books. She has a B.A. from Bluffton University and an M.A. in Ministry from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Learn more at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.
Her inspirational book, “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” is available on all major online outlets. Amazon Link above.
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