Anything we strive for always comes with barriers to success. This is especially true in writing. The mountain gets tougher the higher we climb–and if we fall from near the top, it gets all the more difficult to pick ourselves up.

But we must dust ourselves off and keep climbing if we want to reach our dreams. Take this post from Eliza Green  as a prime example of why we should all keep going. And, as Neil Gaiman said in a recent speech, “If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do.” (For the full speech, go here.)

So what keeps us going when times get tough? Below are four things I always try to remember (and try to remember to do) whenever I feel discouraged.

1. Write what you love.
Right now I’m drafting Book 2 in my series because it’s calling out to me (screaming, more like it–probably because it’s been waiting on the sidelines to get written ever since I started and finished Book 1). As I write it, and as the story further unfolds, I’m falling even more in love with it. Even if other things in my writing life (or work life) don’t go as well, I have this book to come back to. It helps me remember why I started writing in the first place–and why I should keep going. So if you’re unpublished, and not on deadline–write what you want, and write what you love.

 2. Don’t lose the fun.
When I’m caught up in the throes of a project (especially among bulks of revisions) it helps to not put too much pressure on myself to be perfect if I remember to have fun (and my prose tends to come out better that way anyway). Besides, why should one spend so much time on something that doesn’t end up being fun? If you’ve lost the fun, try to find a way to obtain it again.

3. Believe.
 When the rejections start coming, it becomes more difficult to believe in our work. But we must–writing is a very subjective business, but as long as you write what you love (see #1), and continually have a willingness to improve, then all the rejections in the world won’t stop your writing from finding an audience. This also goes hand in hand with the kinds of rejections you receive–if you’re told to scrap the beginning of your novel, think long and hard about whether doing so will add to your story. Because, at the end of the day, it’s your story–and it’s up to you to find the potential it holds inside.

4. Find inspiration wherever you can.
As cheesy as it sounds, I sometimes find inspiration from Disney movies (Pixar in particular). Two quotes I can think of off the top of my head are “Keep moving forward.” (Meet the Robinsons) and “Just keep swimming.” (Finding Nemo). Whenever I’m reminded of these, I always feel better about the journey I’m on. (Beware: the below video contains spoilers.)

Meet the Robinsons (be sure to listen to the song lyrics too):


So if you’re feeling discouraged today, whether it’s because of your writing or some other reason, remember to find the love, and embrace the fun. And believe. Always.

What keeps you going? Feel free to comment below.

0 replies
  1. AlisonKemper
    AlisonKemper says:

    What keeps me going? When I talk to published authors who say, “My first novel didn't sell” or “My first ten novels didn't sell.” I figure there's still hope for me. 🙂

  2. Eliza Green
    Eliza Green says:

    Thanks for the mention Karen! What keeps me going is wanting to succeed. If I fail for any reason, I only see it as an opportunity for me to hone my craft.

    Your four reasons are great ones and everybody should remember to have fun!

    As Alison pointed to, just because your work is rejected doesn't mean it isn't any good.

    If you enjoy writing, you should keep at it.

  3. Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul
    Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul says:

    The feeling that I'll never succeed seems to come in waves. Something positive will happen (requests for pages! Contest! request for more pages!), and I'll feel good for a while, but then I'll get stuck and have no idea what to write next. Or maybe I'll get a batch of rejections. Or I'll fail to get any attention from the next few contests. I just try to take a step back and remember why I started writing in the first place. I didn't have a dream of getting published then. I wrote because I love it. Because I didn't really have a choice. And then it gets easier again. Or at least it becomes fun again.

    Oh, and I also gather inspiration from cartoon characters. Sometimes I run around like Spongebob singing “I'm ready I'm ready.” Thanks for posting this.

  4. The Writer Librarian
    The Writer Librarian says:

    Eliza-excellent point-at first it was hard for me to come to the conclusion that “rejection” does not always equal “bad novel”–especially since I usually assume I'm not good enough. But I'm starting to trust my work and ability more, and that helps.

    Laura-I like your Spongebob quote! Also know about the wave thing–sometimes I feel like I'm on a roller coaster. But I think going back to why we're doing this in the first place always helps–because that remains true no matter where the waves take us!

    Great comments, everyone!


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