How To Not Let Rejection Kill Your Confidence

By Donald E. W. Quist

“There can be no great courage where there is no confidence or assurance, and half the battle is in the conviction that we can do what we undertake,” Orison Swett Marden

So you rush out to the mailbox only to discover you’ve received your umpteenth rejection letter. Now then, rather than cursing the literary world for not recognizing your genius and swearing off writing forever, this is the part where you need to renew your resolve.

When pursuing a career in writing it is crucial to maintain one’s confidence. Besides talent, confidence is the single most important component of getting your work read. If you don’t believe in what you do then why should anyone else?

It seems so simple and cliché—Believe in yourself. However, it is something we too often forget when reading over an elegantly worded NO. I decided to get a professional opinion from Sarah Pekkanen, former features writer for the Baltimore Sun and author of The Opposite of Me—a novel soon to be released by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. As Pekkanen put it, “It’s incredibly important to maintain one’s confidence when trying to get published. So much of this is luck and timing and perseverance, not just talent.”

We shouldn’t allow ourselves to get discouraged by rejection and remember it comes with the territory. As Pekkanen reminded me, “Think of all the big-name writers who were turned down at first—including J.K Rowling and John Grisham. Rejection is part of the process; it’s not personal.”

In regards to the relationship between self-belief and procrastination, it is only natural a lack of confidence lead to a lack of productivity. Your query letter gets shot down after an agent asks to see a partial and suddenly you’re spinning excuses for not writing. You tell yourself you have to do more research before you continue with a particular passage, or you spend hours surfing the internet while a blank Microsoft Word document sits unmodified from its last save.

I know this cause I’ve been there. I’m currently finishing up a novel I once let sit untouched for over 6 months after I received my first batch of rejection letters for a short story I was working on. It’s easy to think that no one will ever be interested, but as my e-mail-pal, Young Adult Fiction writer Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson, helped me realize—for every reason I feared my writing wouldn’t find a home there is an example of an author overcoming a similar obstacle.

You’re scared you’re too young—S.E. Hinton was 16 when The Outsiders was published. You’re scared you’re too old—Gabriel Garcia Marquez didn’t hit his stride until 40 with One Hundred Years of Solitude, and at 82 years old shows no signs of stopping.

And neither should you. Keep at it. Keep writing and stay positive.

By now most of us have heard the name Susan Boyle breeze past the lips of friends and co-workers enamored by the operatic timbre of this pudgy, Scottish, church volunteer-turned-viral video phenomenon. (I mean seriously, the lady’s already got her own Wikipedia entry.) Though I hate to dedicate yet another blog entry to Boyle and risk being dated, she best embodies what it takes to succeed in any type of arts industry—the confidence to put oneself out there and the strength to withstand rejection. She stands as a model for all of us. If you enjoy doing what you love then do it and continue to seek out opportunities to show the world your talent.

About the Author: A freelancer for Media General, Inc., Donald E.W. Quist has written several special interest features for the Florence Morning News, the Hartsville Messenger and InnerViews Magazine. He is the recipient of the 2005 Coker College Write-On Award, and his creative work has appeared in Xcursions Magazine and ERGO magazine. Currently he is shopping for a home for his first novel—Young Folks.

He hopes to launch a website this summer. He invites you to follow him on Twitter: @DonaldEWQuist.

How To Turn Failure Into Amazing Writing Opportunities

By MJ Doyle


Imagine if writers automatically gave up after making one mistake, after receiving their first rejection, or even after having a full-on failure on their resume. Think about how many great novels, poems, short stories, and of course blogs, we would have missed out on.


All that classic literature that we have read, enjoyed, and grown up with came to us not as a first draft but as a symbol of the writer’s ability to see failure as a window to success.


Consider the following photograph:




I strongly disagree with what this picture symbolizes. Failure and success are not two different destinations in life. First of all, there are no real destinations in life as we are all constantly evolving on many levels. Secondly, it is only through rejection and failure that new doors of opportunities are opened to us.


There are 3 types of mistakes that I’d like to address:


  1. when we write something that doesn’t fit into our original outline, mold, or idea
  2. when we are being told by outside forces (i.e. an editor), or even by ourselves, that our writing is not “acceptable” as is (i.e. a rejection letter)
  3. when everything in our life seems to be going wrong and we just plain feel like a failure

Let’s start with the first one. Have you ever been writing, just letting your mind go wherever it desires, and come up with something completely unexpected? Something your internal editor may have flagged as a mistake had you not been allowing yourself to write freely?


As writers we have a tendency to over-think, overanalyze, and over-edit. Relax. Pay attention to the “mistakes” you make while writing and see if they are in fact new opportunities to expand, or perhaps even completely change, your original idea. Don’t be too quick with the delete button. Remember: We don’t write to get things right, we write to get things started, or progressing, to see where our minds take us. As uncomfortable as it may feel, let your gut be your guide.


The second type of mistake we writers often encounter is what we would consider a failure, or rejection. That is, either we don’t like what we’ve written, or someone to whom we are accountable doesn’t like it, or both (they are kind of one in the same, aren’t they?). In either case, the work seems to be dead in the water.


This is where opportunity knocks. This is how we strengthen our writing muscles. Without these failures and rejections, our writing would remain weak and drab. Imagine a body builder training for a competition and giving up after she realizes the weight is too heavy. She just can’t lift it. But what does she do? She lifts it as far as she can and then tries again. She keeps building the muscle until she can lift that weight.


And that’s what happens with writing. When you fail, it is a sign that something needs to be strengthened. Find out what it is and don’t give up. Failing builds muscle, because it enables us to become better at what we do.


Lastly, there may be failures or mistakes that you are facing in life right now. How can these possibly help your writing? Well, if everything in your life were footloose and fancy free, what would there be to write about? No one wants to read about an ordinary person who is sailing through life unscathed.


We write from within ourselves. This applies to fiction and non-fiction, including  blogging. If our lives were problem free, our proverbial pages would be blank. We’d have absolutely no material, no personal experiences from which to draw.


The best way to translate your personal failures into writing is to journal. Then, when it comes time to write something, you have some meaty material. Use the crappy things that happen to you as fodder for some amazing writing.


Now, close your eyes, and imagine yourself licking the stamp that will send your first (or next) query letter or proposal off to an editor. How will you react to the rejection that you will most likely face?


The next time you’re writing and something completely wrong flies onto the page, will you delete it right away, or will you consider that your mind is trying to tell you something?


And when your life feels like nothing is going right, will you retreat to the T.V. or fridge to dull the pain, or will you simply sit down and write?


About the Author: MJ Doyle is the author of “Beat Your Procrastination by Releasing Your Clutter.”  Her blog, S.O.S. Your Life, teaches others how to organize their way to personal development.

The Things Procrastinators Fear

By Jennifer Blanchard

Fear, according to, is: “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.”

Fear can be real OR imagined. When it comes to the things that procrastinating writers fear, it’s imagined.

In fact, someone once said FEAR stands for: False Expectations Appearing Real.

So why, if procrastinators’ fears are false, do they still hold them back?

Because procrastinators truly believe the fear is real.

Procrastinators fear many things, but there are 4 that really stand out as the main fears that feed all the rest:

Now you may have read the above and felt a little angered. You don’t procrastinate because you fear success (or failure or rejection or not being good enough)! You procrastinate because you “don’t have time to write” or because you “are so tired from working all day you just can’t write.”

I’m here to be a little in-your-face and say that those excuses (not having time, being too tired, etc) are just that–excuses. And behind those excuses is a little 4-letter word: Fear.

To better explain it, read this awesome Copyblogger post called, “The Nasty Four-Letter Word That Keeps You From Writing.”

The good news about all this is everyone has fear inside them; and there’s something you can do about it!

Over the next 4 Tuesdays, I’m going to bring you in-depth posts on fear–covering the 4 main things writers fears (mentioned above), and giving tips on how to write despite your fears.

For now, use the Copyblogger post as a way to begin gauging your fears. Next time you avoid writing, take a second to think about the real reason behind why you didn’t write–fear.

What are your writing fears? Which of the 4 main fears most stops you from getting your writing done?

3 Reasons You Should Write Morning Pages

By Jennifer Blanchard

Many procrastinating writers say the reason they can’t write is because they have writer’s block. Any time they sit down to write, they can’t. Nothing comes to them. Their minds are blank.

Julia Cameron, creator of the international bestseller, The Artist Way, has come up with a very effective “tool” for overcoming writer’s block: Morning Pages.

What are Morning Pages, you ask?

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness,” Cameron says.

That means, whatever pops in your head, you write down: “I just woke up and I’m really irritated I have to write these pages. My hand hurts. I need my computer. I don’t want to do this. Oh, I think I have a meeting this morning. Shoot! I need to check my calendar”…You get the picture.

And the best part is, there is no right or wrong way to do your Morning Pages.

“These daily meanderings are not meant to be art,” Cameron says. “Or even writing…[Morning] Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.”

 Now you may be thinking, “No way. I’m not a morning person.” Or “I’ll be late for work if I do this.” But before you get negative about it, here are 3 reasons why you should write Morning Pages:

  • They Teach You to Ignore Your Inner Editor–Since there’s no right or wrong way to write your Morning Pages, you don’t have to worry about your inner editor trying to criticize you. All you have to think about is getting three pages written. That’s it. No judgment.
  • They Can ‘Unblock’ You–“All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity,” Cameron says. “Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye–this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page.”As you consistently write your Morning Pages, you’ll start to notice you are able to once again come up with ideas for your writing.  Your “writer’s block” won’t be a problem anymore.
  • They Get You to the “Other Side”–“Morning Pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods,” Cameron says.

Simply put, Morning Pages help you get over the stuff that keeps you “blocked” and procrastinating on your writing–fear, problems, issues, anger, anxiety, worry, etc.

If you’re ready to give Morning Pages a go, here’s how to get started:

  • Place a notebook and pen/pencil by your bed.
  • First thing when you wake up in the morning, grab your notebook and write 3 pages. Whatever comes to your mind.
  • Don’t do anything else until you write your pages. In fact, you might as well just sit in bed and write them.
  • Once you’ve finished three pages, close your notebook and get started with your day.

It’s that simple. And doing them every day will yield amazing results.

Have you ever done Morning Pages before? If yes, how did they work out for you? If no, are you considering starting to write them?

How To Be A Better Writer

By Jennifer Blanchard

If you’ve mastered the fundamentals of writing (grammar, vocabulary, all the elements of style), you’re already on track to becoming a better writer. And there are lots of other things that you can do to continue on that path. Things like writing every day, reading good writing and taking a writing course.

It’s important to continually improve your writing in whatever way makes sense for you. The harder you’re willing to work, the better writer you’ll be.

To help you out, here are some can’t-miss article about becoming a better writer. Read a couple and try some of the tips out:

And be sure to come back and let us know how you did.

Why You Should Get Specific With Your Writing Goals, and How To Do It

By Jennifer Blanchard

When a marathon is being planned, one of the most important steps in the process is deciding on an end point. Runners need to know how far they have to run and where they will end up when the race is finished.

The same thing goes for your writing.

In order to fully commit to your writing, you first need to know what your goals are.

What are you trying to accomplish?

  • Do you want to finish a novel?
  • Do you want to start a novel?
  • Are you trying to write a screenplay?
  • Do you want to start submitting your short stories to literary magazine competitions?
  • Are you ready to try publication?

Spend some time really thinking about what you want to achieve with your writing. Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Make a List–Write down all the writing goals you want to achieve in your career. Anything goes at this point in the goal-setting process.
  • Narrow It Down–Once you’ve written down all your goals, you want to take a look at the list and narrow it down. Which goals are long-term? Which goals can you achieve immediately (such as writing daily)?
  • Choose 1 or 2 Goals–It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your writing goals if you try to accomplish too many at once. It’s best to choose 1 or 2 of the goals from your list to achieve first. Once you reach that finish line, then you can choose a couple more goals from your list.

The reason why it’s important to be specific with your goals is so you know exactly what you are working toward. It’s much easier to procrastinate on your writing when you have no idea what your end goal is.

But when you have a clear plan, and a bigger picture in mind, you’ll be more likely to actually sit down and write.

Also, having an end-goal in mind will not only motivate you, but will give you a reason why you should sit down and write every time you feel like procrastinating.

My current wrting goal is to start and finish my second novel. What are your writing goals?

Stop Procrastinating In 5 Simple Steps

By Jennifer Blanchard

Over and over writers say that they want to learn how to stop procrastinating. So here are 5 steps that you can take:

  1. Sit down in front of your computer.
  2. Open a Word document.
  3. Place your fingers on your keyboard.
  4. Start typing.
  5. Don’t stop ’til you’ve written at least 500 to 1,000 words.

Yes. It’s really that simple.

Script Frenzy Starts April 1

By Jennifer Blanchard

On April 1st, writers all over the world are starting day one of Script Frenzy.

What is Script Frenzy, you ask?

“Script Frenzy is an international writing event in which participants take on the challenge of writing 100 pages of scripted material in the month of April,” according to the Script Frenzy Web site.

Here are the rules:

  • 100 Scripted Pages–You have 30 days, from April 1 at 12 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, to write 100 pages of an original script.
  • You Must Verify Your Total–Before midnight on May 1, you have to login to the Script Frenzy Web site and submit your text. (It’s exactly the same as NaNoWriMo, for those of you familiar with it.)
  • You have to Wait to Start–You have to wait until midnight on April 1 to start. No starting early. Everyone has the same amount of time. That’s part of the challenge.
  • Write Anything Scripted–You are allowed to write screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, comic book or graphic novel scripts, adaptations of novels or any other type of script you can think of.
  • Grab a Friend–You can choose to write your script alone, or with a partner. (If you choose to write with a partner you will write toward the 100-page goal together.)

If you want more details, check out the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Challenges like this are great for people who procrastinate because it forces you to really focus and get writing done. (And for an extra kick, try using the Write or Die productivity tool in Kamikaze mode!)

Write Or Die: A Free Tool for Procrastinating Writers

By Jennifer Blanchard

I was recently introduced to an awesome writing productivity tool from a follower on Twitter (@armselig). The tool is called “Write or Die,” which is “a Web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences,” according to the tool’s creator, Dr. Wicked.

Here’s how “Write or Die” works:

  • There are 3 modes: Gentle, Normal and Kamikaze.
  • In Gentle Mode, when you stop writing, you will get “writing reminders” that pop up on your screen reminding you to keep writing until your time limit is up/you have hit your word count.
  • In Normal Mode, when you stop writing, you’ll hear a very annoying noise, which will only go away if you keep writing.
  • In Kamikaze Mode, when you stop writing, it gives you a few seconds and then it starts deleting your words. To keep it from deleting everything, you have to keep writing.
  • Once you choose your word count/time limit, mode and how “forgiving” you want the tool to be, you’re off and writing.

Now before you try out this tool, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • This is for productivity ONLY—Do not expect to write anything even remotely close to The Great Gatsby or Grapes of Wrath just by using this tool. This tool is not here to make you a better writer. It’s here to make you write, period. (You can worry about editing what you’ve written after you’ve written it!)
  • Kamikaze mode is the BY FAR the best mode to use—Since it deletes your writing if you stop for more than a few seconds, you are forced to keep writing in order to not get anything deleted. If you are serious about getting writing done, this is the mode for you.
  • If you’re attempting this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge, Write or Die will easily help you reach your daily word count (of 1667 words).
  • Remember to select all the text you wrote and copy it—There is no way to save your text using this tool, and once you navigate away from the page, everything you’ve written is gone. That’s why you need to copy what you wrote and paste it into a Word document in order to save it.
By using this writing productivity tool, you are learning to shut off your inner editor and just getting writing done. And that, Procrastinating Writers, is what it truly takes to be a successful writer.

Why Every Writer Needs A Website

By Jennifer Blanchard

If you ever plan to turn your written talent into dollars, you need to market yourself. With the wide-spread availability of the Internet everywhere from computers to cell phones to game systems, writers need to be accessible to their readers (and potential readers) at a moment’s notice.

One way to do this is to have a Web site.

A Web site:

  • Makes a writer look professional—If you’re ever going to make any money from your writing, you need to appear as professional as possible to the public.
  • Is a simple marketing tool—Anyone can create a basic Website. Especially these days when you can use templates and click-to-publish Web programs.
  • Can serve as a writer’s portfolio—Imagine your writing being available to prospective customers/readers 24/7/365.

When it comes to creating your author Web site, you have a couple of options: a blog—where you use a site such as or to create a blog that spotlights your writing—or buying a domain name and building a Web site using pre-made templates.

Also, it’s important to remember, if you are writing under a pen name/writing alias, you should create the Web site for your alias, not for yourself.

At a minimum, your Web site should have the following pages:

  • Home page—Use this page to welcome and introduce people to your site.
  • Samples of your writing—Include at least 2-3 pieces samples. Create separate pages writing in different categories, such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry.
  • About the Author—Include your full bio and a professional photo of yourself.
  • Contact the Author—Include your E-mail address. Don’t include your address and phone number. You can exchange additional information with the person who contacts you later if necessary.