Nip the Naysayers

It is hard enough being a writer, sending your writing out only to receive rejection letters. But what about those around you who are critical of your passion for a career that pays little, but calls to your soul? I get criticism too. Often people tell me they see it as a hobby. It is not a hobby to me. It is my life. They don’t see it that way no matter what I tell them. I want to share some tips on how to ignore them, keep writing, and maintain your sanity.

A rejection letter is harsh. When your aunt or employment counselor chides you for not becoming a lawyer or an executive, it’s even harder. They make you grind your teeth at night and develop headaches because you feel like quitting writing just so they would be quiet. Well, take heart.

Writing, like the arts, doesn’t get much love from those who don’t see it the way we would like them too. From their perspective, it’s a dalliance, a hobby–or worse–a waste of time. To those of us who are serious, getting published in magazines or books is life or death. We love seeing our byline in a publication and are bit by the itch to get the next byline or the next publishing contract. We perfect our query letters and synopses to the best of our ability.

If you do sense you are under attack, perhaps telling people you are busy writing and closing the door to your writing studio will do the trick. Be assertive, but not overly upset and they should get the hint. We can’t change them. It is a sad fact of life, but we can change the way we respond to them. It’s not fair, but life is not fair.

Another great way to get naysayers off your back? I can think of two. One, you put honest effort in… and you are, right? Two, they see you succeeding at it. Then they will look forward to seeing your next published book or that article in the magazine you were dreaming of seeing yourself published in.

Never take the chiding or ridicule seriously. Maybe they are secretly jealous of you, seeing you reading your draft of your writing project, looking like you are not spending your time more responsibly and wishing they had the time to do what you are doing. It’s them, not you. Treat this the way you would if you got a rejection letter. File it away and keep writing. Keep writing because you are not writing for them; you are writing for you, the editors, your readers.

That’s what matters. Own it and be responsible for it. Getting angry is giving them another reason to harass you for not following your heart and work instead on an oil rig- -anything that makes “actual money!” See it from their perspective. If you follow all these suggestions, you may persuade them to see yours. They may even offer help or suggestions.

Good luck!


How to Create a One-Sentence Punch

Ah, the dreaded blurb so small you have to condense your entire book into a single sentence. In the literary world, this is often referred to as the elevator pitch, stemming from trying to sell your book to someone with the same amount of time as riding in an elevator, but without the uncomfortable staring. How do you do that when your book is something like 80k – 120k words long, has multiple main characters, a dozen supporting characters, and a plot along with two subplots?

First off, let’s think of how many words we get to use for our sentence. At the very most, twenty-five. Any more than that, we’re asking for a headache by creating a run-on sentence.

Second, we now examine the overall plot and break it down into three parts:

  1. The Main Character
  2. The Overall Conflict
  3. The Villain

Let’s take the example of a book titled Fallen From the Stars:

A human with no memory tries to adapt while dealing with prejudice from the elves as the village prepares for the arrival of the Bloody Baron.

These parts can be in any order, but typically, you want to start it with the main character. The human (Main Character) with no memory (the Overall Conflict – Man vs. Himself) tries to adapt while dealing with prejudice from the elves (Villain) as the village prepares for the arrival of the Bloody Baron (Villain).

The key point to summarization is always write it about the plot of your story. With that in mind, writing a one-sentence, a paragraph, or a full-page proposal shouldn’t prove too challenging.

Happy Writing!