“Choose to feel optimistic. It feels better!”
“Choose to feel optimistic” — what wonderful advice. On the one hand, it’s so simple — on the other, it isn’t always easy. When we’re alone on the page in the throes of artistic creation, we are masters of our universe. But when it comes to getting our work out into the world, staying upbeat can be challenging. Sure, we’ve worked hard and revised until we believe our work sparkles.
Still, the move from creating to submitting can be jarring — and keeping our spirits high in the face of potential rejection requires strategizing. If you’re in submission mode, here are some ideas from my own experience — and from an online story by Writer’s Relief, a submissions service — that may prove motivating:
Have a submissions system: You may choose to set up an online spreadsheet to track your submissions or use a notebook or three-ring binder and a simple log-in form of some kind. Any of these approaches can be effective — the key is to have some form of tracking system so you can keep on top of where and when you send out your work. Without a system, you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed and muddled.
Set realistic goals: If you’re submitting to journals, then you know there are tons of them. If you are querying agents, you’ll be doing a lot of research and personalizing. All of this is time-consuming and mentally demanding. So don’t set yourself up for frustration: Keep your daily and weekly goals manageable and then stick to them. The more work you send out, the better your chances. When you do meet the goals you’ve set for yourself, be sure to reward yourself. Make your gift to yourself something special and see it as a sign that you are moving closer to achieving your dreams.
Stay connected: Sharing your experience with other writers who know firsthand what it’s like — can give you a lift. Just chatting a while over coffee, the phone, or via email or text can make the whole submissions process less isolating. You can also make it a point to ask for advice that can make your submissions more efficient and effective.
Go easy on yourself: Remember, submissions isn’t a cut-and-dried process. It’s more than likely that you’ll make your share of mistakes along the way: forgetting to follow up or sending an earlier version of a query letter. When mistakes like these happen, cut yourself some slack. Shake it off and keep going.
Make motivation a priority: We all have different ways of lifting our own spirits. Some of us find reading inspirational quotes and passages from successful writers gives us a boost. Or listening to inspirational tapes or meditating or visualizing a successful submissions outcome. Whatever tools you keep in your motivational kitbag, be sure
to have them on tap, so you can call on them when you need them.
Beware of procrastination: If you’re feeling a lack of confidence or getting hit with rejections, it’s all too easy to let your submission system and goals fall by the wayside. Don’t fall into this trap and start putting off your submissions — stick to your plan.
For more on managing submissions and motivation, check out the Writer’s Relief site and its book, The Happy Writer: Your Secret Weapon Against Rejection, Dejection, Writer’s Block, and The Emotional Pitfalls of the Writing Life (wow, that covers the waterfront!) — and write on.