The Flame of Willpower (Writers Should Embrace Rejection)

Does this sound like a familiar scenario? You start up a new writing project and after a few pages or chapters a new, even better idea comes along. So you shift gears and start work anew. Yet after months or years, you’ve never completed a single thing? This relates to the fourth weapon for writers: willpower. Graphic artist and writer Alan Moore believes that most writers shy away from completion for a simple reason: if you never finish, then you can never be judged. Yet writers should embrace rejection because putting your work out there is the only way to get published.

Focus on Incremental Progress

Working every day on the same project and seeing it through to the end has tremendous benefits. Even writing 500 words each day means you’ll have an 80,000 word manuscript in half a year. You might need to set aside a specific time each day or set word goals to reach. 

Journal Your Ideas

Instead of jumping ship each time you get a new and “better” idea, recognize that this is how your brain deals with stagnation on your current work. Keep a journal of these “better ideas”. It clears them out of your brain and frees you to continue chugging away on your current work. 

Look for Marginal Gains

Dave Brailsford, a British cycling coach, transformed the British cycling team by looking for tiny ways to improve all aspects of the sport. From better pillows to enhance sleep to designing more comfortable bicycle seats. These tiny changes led the team to sweep the 2012 London Olympics. 

What sorts of tiny changes can you work into your writing routine? Can you set your writing area up the night before? Maybe invest in better pillows for a good night’s sleep. Each of these tiny changes can lead to dynamic changes.

Always Have a Next Project

The worst part about finishing a project is the wait time as others critique and possibly reject it. Instead, this is the time to jump on all those other ideas that sprang up while you were working. Investing time in a new writing project will give you some emotional distance on your completed works. Then the sting of rejection won’t hurt as badly. 

Nobody’s out there helping you write stories or create art. Yet, nobody’s out there stopping you, either. There’s no evil plot out to sabotage you. It’s just you and your work. 

So what’s stopping you?

Tim Kane

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