​Four ways to recover from a devastating loss (or rejection from a publisher!)

Last week I was going to write an inspiring email about how you just have to keep trying. That you don’t know when one of your stories is going to hit with a publisher. Something about how it takes the right person, the right story, the right voice, and the right moment to get the novel published, and how you just have to keep throwing the ball, hoping for a completion until you get it right.

Yes, I was going to use the Minneapolis Miracle as a metaphor.

Image result for minneapolis miracle

Today, well…today is a different story. A different metaphor. But maybe one that is just as important because big losses come more frequently than miraculous touchdowns and we’d better figure out how to handle rejection as writers if we want to be successful.

Image result for sad minnesota viking

EVERY author gets rejected. EVERY idea can use improvement. EVERY novel has revisions.

The key is to know what to do after the rejection/painful editorial letter/bad review. Here are four thoughts to upping your game if you want to push yourself off the icy turf and keep playing.

  1. Go back to the fundamentals. The most common rejection from a publisher is because YOUR STORY ISN’T DEVELOPED ENOUGH. You’ve written a very good rough draft, with a solid plot and interesting characters but there aren’t enough layers, metaphors, character nuances and change and you just don’t nail the ending. This is a great rejection because it means you just need to go deeper. Start with your character and figure out what he wants, and why—and when I say WHY, I mean go back to that Dark Moment Story in the past and examine who your character is at his core. Then look at your character’s journey. Can he do something at the end that he can’t at the beginning? What is the theme of your story? Are there any metaphors embedded in your story? Going back to the core and putting the story back together helps you see the holes you might have missed. (BTW, if you need help on how to do that, check out The Story Equation)
  2. Show, don’t tell. Another reason your story might not catch is because your voice isn’t grabbing the reader. Voice is personality on the page, but it also involves the way you wordsmith, the way you describe the world, add in dialogue and most importantly, show versus tell your story. Do you “tell the story between the quotes,” meaning more dialogue, less narrative? (here’s a rule of thumb—if you can say it, do! Nothing moves the story faster, or causes more tension than dialogue!) Do you show the emotions through action, storyworld and metaphor? Don’t tell us that someone is smart, strong and brave. Show us.
  3. Add in an original twist. Have you ever heard from a publishing house, “oh, we just published a story like that?” You need something in your author’s hat of tricks that make your story unique. I have traveled extensively, as well as have lived some exciting adventures, and I often use those experiences in my novels. And since I write epic romantic adventure, it works. What unique element do you bring to your stories?
  4. Write a fresh novel, not book two! It’s common for authors to finish a novel and think—I can write an excellent follow up story. So they spend the next year creating book #2. Sadly, they’ve just (potentially) wasted their time. No one will read book #2 if book #1 hasn’t been published. Find a fresh new idea and go to work on THAT story. Your first story might still be contracted, someday, but don’t continue down the path of the same defeated story line. *Note: If your publisher suggests that you REWORK your current novel, then do THAT. But if you’ve exhausted the opportunities for that story…move on!

And, just for the record, if you need to take a day off and binge watch The Crown, or Travelers, or even Stranger Things, that’s okay too.

Just don’t stay down. Because that icy grass can turn your writing joints stiff and achy. Get back up.

You’re still in this game.

SKOL forever! Oops, I mean Your Story Matters.

Go write something brilliant!

 

Susie May

P.S. If you feel like you’re stuck on a story that’s been rejected, or your writing has stalled, or even, you don’t know how to develop a new game plan, then our annual Deep Thinker’s retreat will get you up and going again! We have 3 spaces left—and it’s one glorious month away, in WARM and SUNNY Destin, Florida. Check out the details and join us here!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Dreams Alive After Disappointments

by Jeanne Takenaka, @jeannetakenaka

We all have friends who share their dreams coming true online. Whether they’ve been signed with an agent or gotten a book contract, these are joyful steps forward toward the fulfilling of a dream.

But what about when we take those steps and meet with . . . disappointment?

The first time I received a pass for a book I’d spent hours on, disappointment hit harder than I ever expected. I questioned if I was even meant to be a writer. And all those old lies screamed doubt across my heart. My mind went everywhere from giving up writing altogether to submitting to a different agent, to “Why in the world did I think I could write and publish a book?”

I needed to address a number of heart-issues before moving forward on this journey.

These are a few steps I’ve taken to walk through disappointments:

  • Take time to feel the disappointment . . . but don’t stay there.
  • Look at the validity of the feedback, and remember to see the positive. It’s easy to focus on the negative things that were said about these “babies’ in word form. If you’re like me, you only see the negative things that were shared, and your eyes skim past the positives that may have also been conveyed. Stop. Find the positives and remember we’re all works in progress.
  • Talk with a friend if you need to regain perspective. When I got my “‘pass” on that manuscript, I needed the encouraging words of a friend who is further along on this journey. She helped me see the big picture perspective I had been missing.
  • Take a little time and then get back at it. When we determine to keep working out our dreams, fear loses a battle.
  • Remember that God has given each of us a calling to write. He never asked us to do it alone. We need to trust Him and move forward in fulfilling it.

Achieving a dream is never as easy as we think it will be. Timing often looks different on God’s calendar than it does on ours. We will face times of disappointment and discouragement.

When we yield our dreams into His care, He will bring His vision of the dream to pass in our lives, in His way and His timing.

I’m still moving toward seeing my dreams become reality. I will face more disappointments, but I won’t walk through them alone. And this truth gives me the needed courage to keep moving forward.

What about you? What tips have helped you face disappointment and come out on the other side? What keeps you moving forward on this writing journey?

Tweetables:

Tweet: 5 Tips for Keeping Your Dreams Alive After Disappointments by @jeannetakenaka via @NovelAcademy #writing https://ctt.ec/5a651+

Tweet: What keeps you moving forward on this writing journey? @jeannetakenaka shares tips via @NovelAcademy #writing https://ctt.ec/iVKfS+

~*~

Jeanne Takenaka writes contemporary fiction that touches the heart. She won My Book Therapy’s Frasier award in 2014 after finaling in the contest in 2013. She was a Genesis 2015 finalist in the romance category, and she finaled in the Launching a Star Contest and the Phoenix Rattler in 2012. An active member of RWA, ACFW and My Book Therapy, Jeanne blogs about life and relationships at http://jeannetakenaka.wordpress.com. A graduate with an M.A. in education, she resides in Colorado with her husband and two exuberant teenage boys who hope to one day have a dog of their own.

​Five ways to get the elephant moving (or overcome writer’s block!)

This morning, I dragged an elephant around my neighborhood for roughly 2.3 miles.

Aka, I went on my morning walk. But it felt that way because I’d taken three (yes!) weeks off during the cold snap of the century (read: year). And it was Christmas.

I left the house brimming with vim. Five minutes later, as I tackled the first hill, I slowed to a crawl, my legs burning, huffing breath hard into my lungs. Not so pretty. But I kept going, despite the elephant I felt like I was dragging and finished my walk.

Tomorrow, it will be easier.

Then I sat down to write. Alas, the elephant was back! Because I’d also taken a hiatus from writing, and my writing muscles had atrophied too. Each word seemed laborious, as if an elephant had sat on my brain.

Maybe you’re there too. Sitting at the computer, trying to get back into the discipline and flow of writing only to feel like an elephant has sat on your brain. Wrenching words, and often bad ones, from your frozen creativity.

Keep going. See I know your writing muscles are stiff, but tomorrow will be easier. And eventually, the elephant will get up and start moving.

One day, it’ll nearly run you over with the energy to be set free.

But until then, here are five tips to get the elephant off its duff and at least ambling.

  1. Read for inspiration. When I’m stuck, I turn to stories that get my storytelling and wordsmithing juices simmering. It might be a favorite author, or someone new, but someone whose voice is intriguing, beautiful and inspires you. Just one chapter every morning…(but don’t forget to put the book DOWN and write your own book!)
  2. Give your characters a problem! Ask your POV: what is the worst thing that could happen to you, next? Often, we’re stuck because we’re bored. We’ve solved all the problems, and our characters are busy napping. Wake them up! Give them a new problem—make their worst fear happen. Or at least a piece of those fears. If you’re characters are sleeping, the you and your reader will too. Sleeping is bad.
  3. Give your characters an urgent need! Besides asking what they fear, ask them how they feel about what happened in the previous scene, and what they want right now. Their immediate need/desire. This sets up your goal. Then, grab their greatest fear from above and create an obstacle to that goal that produces that fear. Whalla—you have the basic ingredients for scene tension!
  4. Talk out your scene. I like to call my writing partner, but I’ve been known to talk to my dog, a nearby child, even bribe my husband with a cup of coffee (or dinner…) Just discussing the events of the scene helps spark ideas of dialogue and action.
  5. Use SHARP – or our Scene Starter trick to get the first line. Gather up your ingredients: What’s at Stake in the scene, your Hero/Heroine’s emotional state, the storyworld (or Anchoring) and finally, the problem they need to solve (and the problem they will end the scene with!) Once you figure these elements out, ask: What is my POV thinking right now? Could you use that thought, or some variation of it as the first line of the scene?

Now, you’re in POV, armed with inspiration and with a loose blueprint of what needs to happen, and you’re ready to write.

Let the words be bad. And if you’re slow, just keep wrestling them out. You’ll eventually pick up speed.

And tomorrow, like I said, it’ll be easier.

Have a great writing week! Your story matters—write something brilliant!

Susie May

 

P.S. If you missed the Brilliant Year peptalk on how to create and plan a year that sets you free to write with joy,then you can watch the replay, for a limited time, here. And if you are looking for the planner we talked about, it’s on Amazon.

(And for those who want just the PDF)

 

P.P.S. Struggling to get the story on the page? Need help shaping it? Want to polish your wordsmithing? Need career help? We’ll be talking about all these things, and more, at our annual Deep Thinker’s Retreat, Feb 23-27, in Destin, Florida. 5 spots left! Check it out here!

Your Brilliant Writing Year Free Interactive Workshop

Happy New Year!

Fresh starts. Making resolutions. Setting goals. A new year offers a clean slate to make positive changes.

And we’re here to help!

If you recall, last week I shared a new My Book Therapy product to help jumpstart your year, plan for success, and keep you motivated to achieve your goals. That’s right, The My Book Therapy Dream Keeper & Planner 2018.

As I’ve said–this planner is big, but then again, so is your life!

 

 

Check out this short video for a sneak peek of what’s inside:

So, what are you waiting for?

Click here to order your planner today: MBT Dream Keeper and Planner

Then you’ll want to register for Your Brilliant Writing Year–an interactive workshop on creating a strategy for a productive and profitable 2018. You will learn how to use the planner to its full potential. You will need to register in advance. Once you register, you will receive an email with a Quick Start Planner to help get you started. 

Click here to register: Your Brilliant Writing Year. 

We’ll see you Thursday, January 4, at 7 PM CST!

Until then,

Go! Write Something Brilliant!