You’re a Writer: Where’s Your Surprised Face?!

The last time I posted, I talked about how other people’s success doesn’t take away from yours (and I talked about Macklemore + Ryan Lewis because they’re pretty rockin’). But the fact of the matter is even if you know that about success, even if you’re a hard worker and you love your craft, you’re not immune to discouragement. Everyone gets discouraged sometimes, including me, it happens. But I’m going to share my little anti-discouragement secret with you, starting with: Taylor Swift.

Taylor has gotten rebuked over the past couple of years for this face she makes:

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She makes this face when she wins something or receives a standing ovation or gets overwhelmed by a crowd. And I think it’s interesting because people have started to give grief for it. Buzzfeed devoted an entire article to it.

But that’s the kind of world we live in – gratitude isn’t valued.

Yes, she’s Taylor Swift and she’s won all kinds of awards and maybe not all of her surprised faces are as sincere as people would like. But there may be a day when she won’t be playing to stadiums of 55,000 people. Maybe she won’t be winning Grammys or CMAs or AMAs or VMAs! She allows herself to get excited, to recognize that every award, every stadium, every performance is a victory. Yes, she should own her success but holding onto that grateful/excited feeling is so incredibly powerful. It can save you in your craft.

That said, I’m a big believer in claiming small victories and getting ridiculously excited about them.

But maybe you’re not excited anymore. Maybe you wrote a book and so far every agent has said, “Thank you but no.” Maybe you have an agent and so far every editor has said, “Thank you but no.” Maybe you’re working on a book right now and your beta readers have told you that something’s not working but you don’t know how to fix it. You feel like you have nothing to be excited or surprised about and you don’t feel motivated. You’re exhausted.

I get it. But I’m gonna need you to back up, because you’re looking at it all wrong. Your glass is more than half full.

So like I was saying, maybe you wrote a book and so far every agent has passed on it. First off, you wrote a book. You should be stoked on that fact alone. The Daily Dahlia has an entire post that will tell you just how amazing you are. But not only that, you have the guts and the determination to research agents, write a query and pitch your work. You’re willing to put your writing out into the universe. That takes guts, y’all. Own that, be excited about doing that.

Getting rejection letters from agents? Give yourself a pat on the back. Your query is being read and responded to. Maybe you need to tweak it a little or maybe *gasp* you’re at the point where you know you need to write another book. Don’t freak out. A writer writes. You’re always going to have to write another book.

In summary, you wrote a book. You wrote a query. Agents are replying to you. So don’t be afraid to be all:

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Or maybe you have an agent and your book is on submission but so far editors have turned it down. Discouraging, right? Wrong. Do you know how many people have that kind of opportunity? To get their work in front of real, live editors? Not many. That is awesome and you are awesome. Be excited and grateful that you’re in that part of the process. And, hello, you’re agented. Remember how excited you were when that happened? Don’t lose that gratefulness. Never take it for granted that people have invested in you because they see your potential. People in the industry are reading and responding to your book. You know how you should feel about that:

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Lastly, perhaps you’re struggling though a draft. You have beta readers or CPs and they’ve all said this part of the plot isn’t working, but no matter what you do, you haven’t figured out a way to fix it. That can be a really stressful, discouraging situation. Every writer knows how much time and effort goes into a draft, and to realize that something is broken in it can feel like the end of the world. But buck up. Because other people are reading your work and giving you feedback about it! Seriously, that’s incredible. Make a shocked face. Get flipping excited that someone took the time to give you notes. Then take a deep breath and brainstorm. You’ll figure it out. But you’re not going to figure it out by getting discouraged, ungrateful and consequently, unmotivated. You wrote a book. It’s readable. You’re an entertainer and you’re going to get even better at it. So it’s like:

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The publishing process is a long, long road to be a part of. So I hope you never lose your gratefulness, excitement and shock when you do something great or when something great happens to you – no matter how big or how small. I hope you’re not afraid to make a surprised face, scream, cry out of happiness, or jump up and down over your victories.

So what are some of your writing victories? SHOUT ‘EM OUT! I wanna hear ’em because the only thing I love more than Taylor’s excited face is yours.