Firstly, thanks to Helen for allowing me to guest post on her blog, and good luck to everyone who has entered her competition. (Fantastic prize, by the way!)
As writers, I think there’s one important lesson we have to learn. Rejection is necessary. Only when you’ve been rejected, can you really appreciate an acceptance. What we need to understand is that rejection is not the end of the journey, but merely a stepping-stone along that journey. Let me give you an example. The Weekly News has just published a short story of mine: A Library Full of Murder. However, that story has been rejected eight times. That’s eight times I could simply have thrown it away, decided it wasn’t publishable, and brought the journey of that piece of writing to an end. But I didn’t. I kept rewriting and sending it out. And I was rewarded with publication … last week. Yippee!
There is an interesting adjunct to this tale. One of those eight publications that had previously rejected my story was a publication called The Weekly News! Originally, I’d submitted it to the fiction editor, Billy Wiggins, who was covering the role whist Jill Finlay was on maternity leave. Billy rejected it. But I decided to try it again with the current fiction editor, Jill Finlay, who liked it and accepted it. Proof, if ever any were needed, how subjective these decisions can be.
Ten other publishers rejected The Positively Productive Writer, before Compass Books decided they liked it. That’s ten times when I could have given up. But I didn’t.
Having the right frame of mind can help you to put things into perspective and not give up. That’s why I wrote the book, because we can all learn how to turn things around. I’ve been overwhelmed by the reviews that The Positively Productive Writer has already received on Amazon, and I’ve also received many emails from readers who have contacted me directly. One was from an ex-student of mine, who was doing well with his writing, having had numerous articles published, but a few years ago was diagnosed with a health condition. This causes him pain throughout his body, so he doesn’t know how he’s going to feel from one day to the next. With other family health problems to contend with too, his writing took a back seat, and then he began wondering whether he would be able to write anything again.
Then he bought my book and read it. He emailed to say it made him realise that as long as he wrote something everyday, he would be able to finish a piece of writing. Suddenly, he was hopeful again. Ideas were buzzing around in his head once more. Two days later, he emailed again. He’d decided to pitch an article idea to one of the editors he used to do a lot of work for. Twenty-four hours later, the editor replied, commissioning the piece, and also saying how good it was hear from him again. There’s an example of how just having the right frame of mind has led to something positive. I’m not saying positivity guarantees success, but without the positive attitude, my ex-student wouldn’t have taken the action to approach the editor with his idea. It’s that action that resulted in his commission.
As writers, we are blessed with overactive imaginations – it’s what gives us all of those wonderful ideas in the first place! But our imaginations can also work against us, making us think things for which there is no logical evidence. It’s actions that make things happen, but it’s how we’re thinking that determines whether we take any action in the first place. Once you understand how to focus on the positive, your chances of taking action and being productive are that much greater. And a productive writer stands much more chance of being a successful writer.
Read Simon’s blog and more about his new book ‘The Positively Productive Writer’ here