The first time I was ever paid for my writing, I made the staggering grand total of five US dollars. I’d decided to send out some of the pieces I was working on as part of a new year’s challenge*. This particular scrap of lyric was one that I’d chosen as a sort of filler, tucked between two other (much more finished, I thought) poems in order to fulfil the submissions requirements of my chosen web zine.

Yet it was that filler prose poem that got me my first literary fiver. One of my professors back at UNCA talked of this often — how work that he thought of as throwaway went to sweep all sorts of awards, while pieces he toiled over day and night lingered, achingly, in the rejection pile.

Honestly, we never know how our stories are going to affect people — or which editors might be particularly susceptible to their charms — at least, not until we’ve sent said work out into the world to seek its fortune. I’ve talked before about the importance of feedback in this process, about getting other eyes on your work before taking that deep breath and hitting the submit button.

But the truth is, there is nothing that will ever completely numb the sting of rejection — or banish its possibility — in this line of work. So how do we keep ourselves going, even when the rejections come flooding in? The short answer is: we make the decision to take our writing seriously.

What Does It Mean to Take Writing Seriously?

Perhaps the idea of a “serious writer” gets your hackles up, or maybe the entire concept seems opposed to the greater goal of taking joy from your creativity. But the truth is, until we decide to take our writing seriously, it remains all too easy to dismiss our words.

How often have you said: “Oh, it’s just a hobby,” or “I write a bit, I suppose”? How many times have you wondered if you’re “really” a writer, or hesitated to share a piece you spent hours on?

Deciding to take your writing seriously helps you to keep going, even when you’re not sure anyone out there is reading. It’s the decision that allows you to declare with your whole chest: “I am a writer!” even when you haven’t published anything yet.

If you’ve found yourself wondering “what’s the point of writing?” at any point over the last year, here are a few ways to take your writing seriously this year:

Write with INTENT. Some of us write to be read, others in order to say something, still others because they enjoy making their readers cry or fall in love (or both). Whatever your reason for writing, set it out in big bold letters and make it a vital part of your process. The rest will follow.

Consider your AUDIENCE. I’m of the opinion that a piece of writing is never truly finished until it’s found its reader. That said, people will connect with your writing in different ways — what you need to figure out is who you’re trying to communicate with, and how you can shape your writing to speak most powerfully to them.

FINISH your work. Finally, the biggest thing you can do to give yourself confidence as a writer is to finish your pieces. Even if that means jotting down a flash fiction or poem every now and then when you’re taking breaks from your novel, nothing builds writing confidence like having a few finished works that we can share with the wider world.

In the end, deciding to take our writing seriously helps us trust the process — of writing, of reading, of revising and reworking and submitting. Hopefully, that way, when the rejections come (and they always will), we can face them with the confidence to keep writing.

Other Updates From the Editor’s Desk

Work Update: Currently taking on clients for the new year. If you’re looking for a freelance editor to help you publish and query with confidence, get in touch or book a free consultation.

Currently Reading: Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen – a personal account and scathing interrogation of the mental health system.

Throwback Blog Post: How to Set Writing Goals for the New Year – It’s time to take stock of our writing and set the tone for another year of creativity.

Hey, I heard you were writing a novel!

What’s it about?

If you struggle to talk about your writing to agents, editors or even your friends, check out my free digital guide, which will help get you pitching your novel like a pro.


Leave a Reply