Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Why every writer should have paper plates


If you're a writer, you better get used to the word rejection because it's a fact more people will say no to you than will say yes. Whether it's magazine editors, publishers or agents, you will get a heck of a lot of people saying no. So, if you're going to be a writer you need some coping strategies.

Today I had a piece of work turned down that I had high hopes for. My characters weren't just characters, they were alive and when I put them in perilous situations I worried about them. Like a reader I was eager to know what happened next. Signs that the work was good. At least that’s what I thought.  

Then I got a 'no' from the first publisher I approached and my head's down and I feel like a complete failure; doubting myself and my writing.

Whenever you get a knock back other writers may tell you to soldier on, get on with the writing. Good advice, but only once you've lost your tight grip on despondency that makes you feel like you’re choking, because you need to get it out of your system. You need a break. You've worked hard. You may not have got the result you wanted, but it's not through lack of effort.

Get on with my writing? I felt like throwing my laptop and notepads out of a window and jumping after them. Instead I went to a place out the way and smashed plate. And that's why I buy paper plates because there aren't many ordinary ones left.

There are other strategies to cope with getting a no that I use -
1. Re-read the rejection. Is there anything good you can take from this no? Was there anything positive said about your work? Was it 'well written?' Did the respondent ask to see more of your work - they wouldn't say that if they didn't mean it and your work was only fit for the trash.

2. Take a step away from your writing for at least 24hours. Read a book by your favourite author, watch mindless telly, play a game - hidden object or shoot up games are best. I play Grand Theft Auto and my goal is to go crazy with the flame thrower.

3. Look at past successes. Leaf through your copies of published work. Think back to the day you got that first yes and how it made you feel.

4. Write a blog post like this one to get your feelings out. Hey, it worked for me.


  1. Bummer.

    I did a whole novel that took a couple of years to get 'right'. No one bought it. However, as you point out, the positive feedback told me I was close. So am at it again...

    A punchbag can work for me, as can shouting and swearing loudly, once I've got the kids to school. The more one gets rejected, the easier it is to shrug it off... just writing that line, I doubted it was true! :-)

    Bum on seat, and write!


  2. Ah, rejections. They always sting. I try to think of them as a "Not for me" response. There's always someone who doesn't like chocolate. I mean, what's wrong with them? There's just no accounting for taste, and that is all you can do, keep hammering at the wall. Sorry about your china :)

  3. Thanks Col and Thomas. Do you know that I tried to comment on my own post and blooming Blogger rejected it even after I signed in? I would so like to bitch slap Blogger right on the coupon.


DI Duncan Waddell - Detective in a Coma Book 2

One lost girl. A bus full of secrets -'My new WIP

One lost girl. A bus full of secrets - My new WIP #amwriting