Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Another rejection. A less than stellar review. Disappointing numbers. Difficult feedback.

My shoulders sag, my stomach winds into knots. Chocolate cake screams my name. My pajamas become my uniform and I won’t even start on my sudden aversion to showering .

Been there, done that?

Exactly. As much as I love the joys that come from creating a compelling story, the high of dreaming of future success, pain along the way is inevitable. But, at times, the pain immobilizes my progress. I hit a slump. I stop writing. I postpone those dreams. To snap out of it, I've learned this trick: I grab a journal, a pen, and I ask myself the following questions:

1. Can I imagine being as happy or happier doing anything else in the whole wide world?

2. If I set it all down and walked away today, how would I feel?

3. Am I worrying about what people think rather than about what I want?

4. What is not (writing, promoting, querying, submitting) doing for me? What do I get out of it?

5. What can I learn from this (rejection, review, critique, etc.) ?

Here are some of my answers:

1. Yes, damn it. I could become a make-up artist. I could meet Adrian Grenier and have a torrid romance. Okay...maybe. I could find a way to get paid to read all day. I could land a job at a chocolate factory.! Not at all. I’m a writer. And I love it. Even the hard parts.

2. I would feel empty. Sad. Bored.

3. Maybe. That reviewer wasn’t exactly nice. And form letters suck. And I just know my sister’s going to ask how it went and I’ll have to tell her and she’ll say she’s sorry but I’ll imagine a hint of joy in her voice. Except, what other people think is none of my business! (I then proceed to chant this several times until all the “but, what about _____?’s” are gone.)

4. Ah, yes. The tough one. Being honest with myself is always the most difficult step but it is also the most freeing. Not writing allows me to keep the dream alive. Because if I do nothing, I’m not failing. If I fail and fail, eventually, I’ll lose my dream! Or, at least, it seems that way. Sitting around moping in my chocolate smeared pajamas does please my inner child and supports my inner tortured artist, the one I pretend doesn’t exist. Doing nothing keeps me safe because I’m not opening myself to further rejection or ridicule or embarrassment. But it also is keeping me from my biggest pleasure, writing something someone might love. Outside of my adventures in motherhood, there is no better feeling in this life than connecting with a reader. It feels like when someone laughs at your joke or loves that song, too, or cried at the same silly commercial.

5. I can learn to write better, to relax and not be so hard on myself. To have more fun.

By this point, I am able to step away from the cake. The knots untie. The shower beckons. I then decide how long my pity party gets to last. One more hour, one more day? I stick to it. And often, I find those pesky doubting party guests leave early and on their own. I find myself back at the keyboard, back onto the road of my own hero’s journey. Thrilled anew.

What motivation tricks have you learned along your writing way?

:}Amber Scott


Ann Charles said...

When I'm in need of motivation, I watch movies. Not to study them, just to make me feel warm and fuzzy. They ease that ache that comes with rejection, they excite me into wanting to create something anew, and they remind me why I wanted to write in the first place--to put the movies in my head down on the page to savor over and over.

Frozen Cokes (aka Coke Slurpees), toffee-nut lattes, and blueberry-vanilla bubble teas also help to soothe my aches and make me happy enough to want to write again.

Great topic, Amber! You made me laugh with the lack of shower talk--been there, too. :)

Ann Charles

Jacquie Rogers said...

What a good suggestion, and it might even help with getting in touch with the emotions that belong in the next scene as well.

Yes, I get down in the dumps on occasion. Denial works well, although it doesn't get me very far. Your way is better. :)


Wendy Delaney said...

Well, sheesh, this topic sure hit home. Chocolate cake smears and all! :)

What I do for motivation? First of all, I step away from the kitchen--away from all the carbs and the sharp implements. Then, I refocus on my goals. I remind myself what's important to me and why. And I do something that day to get a little bit closer to meeting that goal. It may be a small step, but if I can keep making small steps, I know I can get to where I want to go.

Good topic, Amber! And good advice! :)


Vivi Andrews said...

I love the bit about learning to have more fun. There are days when I need to remind myself that the review/rejection/promo-stress is not the end of the world and I can still ENJOY myself in this business.

Thank you, Amber!

(And yeah, the chocolate cake & PJs both sound unfortunately familiar...)

Chassily Wakefield said...

Great post, Amber! Unfortunately, all too true, I recognized myself inside those chocolate smeared pjs. Mine, not yours! And the not showering and all the rest. I like your way of getting over it, I'll try that next time. :)

Up to now, my favorite coping mechanism has been to stock up on the treats and immerse myself in one of my favorite much-read books. That's a double edged sword, though, because depending on just how far down in the dumps I am, sometimes seeing all that brilliant writing adds to the "I'll never be able to do it the way XYZ Awesome Author does, why bother???" crud I was trying to avoid in the first place. Maybe movies are a better way to go, like Ann said...

Amber Scott said...

Ladies, it means so much to know I'm not the only writer with these doubts and reactions! Is it funny how lonely that rejection feels? Okay, not funny 'haha' at first, but when I imagine us all together, pj's, comfort foods and all, it does make me giggle. We're not so alone after all! I don't know about you but that realization will help me even more next time.

Kate S said...

LOVE this post, Amber.

As for keeping motivated... well, I'm still trying. :) Sometimes just remembering the high from the times things went well helps. Remember all those times you weren't rejected? Remember seeing your cover art for the first time? Remember how happy your (fill-in-the-blank...for me it was my daughter) was for you when you made a sale?
Those things keep me going.

Erin Kellison said...

Great post! When I need to be motivated, I read. Usually a book that I've read a thousand times before. :)

Kate Diamond said...

Often, it helps me to step back and take a look at the big picture. When I'm blocked (or swamped with my day job) I need to get a bit of perspective.

No matter what happens with teaching, no matter what happens with writing, I will still be a decent human being with an incredibly loving circle of family and friends (emphasis on wonderful, hot husband).

Somehow, recognizing the overall quality of my life always makes me want to recommit to the frustrating parts until I triumph over a career project!

Indian T.v Serials said...

Lynne used to worry she had a serious problem with daydreaming, then she discovered she was supposed to write the stories in her head. A late bloomer, Lynne came to fiction writing after her children were nearly grown. Now she battles the empty nest by writing stories which always include a romance, sometimes medicine, a dose of mirth, or both, but always stories from her heart. She is a Southern California native, married for almost thirty years, has two adult children she is super proud of, is a dog lover, cat admirer, a power walker, and fellow traveler on this wild road called life!