Facing Discouragement as a Writer

I’m generally a very upbeat, positive person. Most days, I love everything about the writing process. Most days. Most days aren’t today however. Today I’m feeling very discouraged.


Despite the fact that I’ve had quite a few encouraging comments from agents, and even editors, I have yet to have any of my work published. Most days, I don’t even think about it. I’m usually so focused on the characters and the stories, that it never even crosses my mind. But the last few days, it’s been a constant aching ball of self-doubt, sabotaging my writing efforts.


It’s actually a combination of several things that are making me feel this way: 1. The fact that I’m searching for a way to give my main character in my manuscript more depth, 2. the fact that I just finished another Sarah Dessen novel and feel like I’ll never be able to measure up to her wonderful writing, 3. the fact that I’ve been worrying whether my book is original or not, and 4.the fact that we’ve gotten 13 inches of snow in 2 days and the sun has been hidden behind a cloud for almost a week.


Sometimes, wanting to be a published author seems like the most insurmountable goal, ever. I’m working against such bad odds. Why do I even do it? What makes me think I can be a writer? Just because I love books and stories above anything else (except for my family of course!) doesn’t mean that I get to be a writer. But I don’t want to give up either, despite the odds, and the hard work, and the sting of rejection. So what is one to do? Do you have any ideas? How do you get through your discouraging days? Do you have any tips or tricks that might help? I’d love to hear what you have to say!


“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”
― Sarah Dessen, Just Listen


13 thoughts on “Facing Discouragement as a Writer

  1. I resort to lattes and cake to lift my spirits – so probably not particularly helpful…keep writing, I enjoy your blog =)

  2. Just found your blog and it’s very interesting. I’m currently writing a book myself (a non-fiction one however), and I’m kind of stuck as well, to find the right words and the courage to go on. Maybe it helps to ask yourself what you’d rather be doing if it wasn’t writing. If you can’t come up with something, then you should definitely continue. I also often say to myself that the eventual publishing of the book is but a nice extra to the joy I get from writing every week. Even if your book is finished and it doesn’t get published (immediately), you still have something to be proud of, a product of your own, something you accomplished all by yourself. Not many people have the patience, perseverance and enthusiasm to finish a book. So maybe it helps to convince yourself that the writing itself is important, not the publishing goal ? I don’t know, I’ve never published anything. As for the Sarah Dessen comparison: she has already written so many books, she’s got a lot more experience, so it’s normal that she seems to be better. Besides, we don’t know how she writes her books. Maybe during every book there comes a moment where she gets stuck as well ! I sincerely hope that you will continue and that you will enjoy the writing and the end product, no matter what happens. Greetings from Belgium

    • exactly, if your goal is to get published, write a cookbook with a celebrity. Or write technical journal. Just getting published is a vague concept. If you go to amazon and sign up for createspace, you can convert your word document and probably be published by the end of the week.
      Keep working at it. Eventually you will be accepted into the publishing club, or like myself, do it on your own.

  3. couple of comments – first to give a character more depth, I suggest adding two conflicts, one internal, one external. How a character deals with blindness, fear, abandonment, hate of a ex, or inability to swim shows character without describing it. An external challenge, whether crossing a frozen river, rescuing an animal or running from an attack reveals strengths and weaknesses to the reader.
    As for being published, it is a noble dream. I suggest you alter that dream just a little and imagine being a well paid published author.
    Constantly reading and writing help make one a better writer, however, being a good writer never guarantees publishing. Networking, gaining a following, and getting support from an agent who not only encourages but goes to bat (even if YOU have to badger them) is a requirement.
    In a final comment about these encouraging people, you should ask them to represent you and sell your stuff. Somehow make them perform for you. No writer is that good that agents and publishers fight for their works. Only celebrities (with built in audiences) get that kind of treatment. Us writers must work at it!
    FYI my first book published by a real publisher was only as a result of my successfully self-publishing that book without their help. They came along after it was a proven title.

  4. Pingback: Two Blog Awards in one day: 7X7 and The Versatile Blogger | The Literary Mom

  5. Some time ago, after I had started writing my novel and invested quite a bit of time on it, I asked myself, “If this never gets published, and I look back on these days when I’m on my deathbed, will I still think I spent my time well by working on it?” And I decided that the answer was — yes! The fun i’ve had creating my characters, the discoveries I’ve made watching them face challenges, the delight I’ve felt when they succeeded and the satisfaction I’ve felt when I’ve written a great scene — it is all worth it, even if no publisher ever accepts it. I think about this whenever I’m feeling frustrated or down — hope it helps you!

    • See, I’m not sure I do feel that way. I think I might think, “Gee, I wish I had spent that time with my family instead…” But I’m determined to get published, so it won’t be for nothing. Some day, it will happen for me!

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