Writing, rejection, growing pains, and finding your True North

A friend of mine — a new writer — told me she was feeling discouraged and was ready to stop writing because she wasn’t getting the feedback she expected. She doesn’t do well with rejection, for one thing. Here are a couple replies I shared with her:

“That’s one of the growing pains as a writer. You will get rejected. There will always be someone who doesn’t like your style, your voice, your writing. ALWAYS! You cannot please every single person, and neither should you try. Writing is a journey, not a destination. There are no PERFECT WRITERS. There are plenty of people who don’t like Stephen King’s work, but that hasn’t stopped him. A writer writes — period. You have to learn how to deal with rejection and develop a thick skin, ’cause you’ll need it. I will NEVER stop writing. Some people will enjoy my work, while others will not. Those are the breaks! I’m going to express myself and nobody will stop me. It is my life, my career, and my purpose. So, don’t give up. However, realize that some people you may have reading your stuff aren’t the right ones to read it in the first place.  Keep writing, keep improving, keep honing your craft. In the end, write for yourself, even if you do write for publication. Always have personal projects you do for creative/personal reasons. Writers write — it’s as simple as that. Do it for yourself! It’s great therapy, too.”

AND:

“I believe one of my missions is to encourage people to be creative and to express themselves, however that may be. I wear different hats when I’m a writer vs. when I’m an editor. They are two different processes. If I waited for my loved ones to approve of what I wrote, I would’ve probably never gotten published. Not that I didn’t have supportive and caring loved ones, but opinions are subjective and you won’t always get honest ones or viable ones from loved ones. Be very careful about who you allow to have power over your creative process. Constructive criticism is good; however, even at that, not all criticism or input will be usable to you. In the end, it has to be YOUR voice, your art, your expression. I could never write about a book about the history of steam engines, for instance, because while it may be interesting to some people, I have no interest in it. I have to be driven by an idea, a thought, a character, a topic that interests me. I could go on, but you’ll find all sorts of advice, info, etc. from a ton of people. Use what makes sense to you and trash the rest. In the end, follow your True North.”

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