The thing that stops a lot of writers from finishing writing a book or screenplay is the fear of failure: what if nobody wants it? What if I get horrible feedback? What if I’ve done all that work for nothing?
My tip is: step back.
The scenario in which you imagine getting rejections from publishers or producers is only one part of the larger picture. The more we zoom in on that, the greater our fear. Here are some questions to help you step back and put it into the context of the greater picture:
How many rejections equal failure? One? Ten ? A hundred? Here, from BubbleCow, is a list of half a dozen writers and how often their work was rejected:
- Madeline L’Engle’s book, A Wrinkle in Time, was
turned down 29 times before she found a publisher.
- C.S. Lewis received over 800 rejections before
he sold a single piece of writing.
- Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected
by 25 publishers.
- Zen and
the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times.
Livingston Seagull was rejected 40 times.
- Louis L’Amour was rejected over 200 times before he sold any of his writing.
Set your number at the start: how many rejections will it take for you to give up on a particular manuscript? If you say 100, for instance, rejection number 20 will not bother you all that much.
What will you learn along the way? Selling your work is not the only positive outcome of writing it. What will you learn about the subject? About yourself? About writing? Stepping back means not focusing only on the sale.
What would you have done with that time if you hadn’t been writing? The fear of wasting time suggests that if you weren’t writing you’d be doing something more worthwhile. Would you? Or would you be watching or TV or surfing the web?
If you find that a fear of failure is threatening to derail your writing, step back!
You'll find lots of friendly guidance for your writing in my books, "Your Writing Coach," and "Your Creative Writing Masterclass," both published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing and available from Amazonor your other favorite bookseller.