Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fighting the Gremlins

According to Merriam Webster, one of the definitions of discouragement is a feeling of having lost hope or confidence. I'd say that sums up pretty well how I feel when I get discouraged with my writing.

You know what I'm talking about. You open your work in progress all ready to write something profound; something the world can't possibly do without reading. You are going to knock out the great American novel, and be on the New York Times best seller list. While those may be lofty goals, I'm willing to bet my thesaurus at least one of those has crossed your mind.

The problem is, you've got a gremlin on your shoulder who insists on doing annoying gremlin things. He (or she; I try not to be sexist here), sits there and says all kinds of stuff to you. Give it up, sweet cakes. You can't write. Did you see that one star review on your last book? I bet you can't even get your mom to read that last piece of trash you wrote. Not only that, they're ripping you apart on Goodreads. Read the chapter you wrote last night. Are you kidding me? Delete it. Delete the whole thing. Try selling Avon, or something. You're no good at writing.

Writing can be lonely

Sound familiar? Writing can be lonely. Often there is no one around to encourage us. We can't stick our heads around our cubicles and ask our coworkers if something sounds okay. Even our coffee breaks are often solitary. There's probably nobody around to bounce ideas off of while we sip our brew and munch on a doughnut. I've actually tried asking my dog what she thought, but she lifted her head, looked at me briefly, and went back to snoring.

I'm no expert, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say discouragement is a normal part of writing. There have been a few times when I have had the opportunity to visit with other writers, and they have assured me that is the case, at least for them.

 So how do we get rid of discouragement? The truth is, I only know what works for me. Maybe you should re-read that sweet email someone wrote you. You know, the one that said your writing helped them over a rough spot or made them laugh. Read a positive review. Chat with other writers who are facing the same why in the world am I wasting my time feelings. At least you are not alone.

If you are writing, or attempting to write, there's a good chance you are called to this vocation. Don't let what God has called you to do seem insignificant, even if your offerings are not perfect.

Say a prayer, sit down, and just write. Let that gremlin know he's in for a bumpy ride. Better yet, knock him right off your shoulder.

Happy Writing!



  1. 16 literary agencies and 12 publishers reject A Time To Kill. Its modest print run of 5000 quickly sells out, as it goes on to become a best-seller for its author: John Grisham. Combined sales of 250 million.

    After 5 years of continual rejection, the writer finally lands a publishing deal: Agatha Christie. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion, as in BILLION.

    Louis L’Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling author with 330 million sales.

    “Stick to teaching.” Louisa May Alcott refuses to give up on her dream. Little Women sells millions, and is still in print 140 years later. Unlike the name of the publisher who told her to give up.

    Need I say more? Keep on keeping on, not to be successful but to be satisfied,

  2. Spot on, Mariane. You only fail if you give up. Thanks for stopping by.