Being a writer can be a mentally and emotionally exhausting profession (especially for those of us who work full-time jobs, have families, have kids, have other obligations, try not to be crusty shut-ins who do nothing but write, etc. etc.). Writing, editing, and polishing manuscripts and then sending them out to publishers and agents. You play the waiting game, and then you deal with the hundreds of rejection letters–more emails these days than actual letters.
So how do you keep it from getting you down? I try to celebrate every little success. I think of it as some sort of experience points bar–really it’s the one from Pokemon because they have such fun sound effects as they fill up.
Each word I write, each book or story I finish, each one I edit and polish, and each manuscript I send out on submission–all those things fill in the bar.
And then whenever I hit a new milestone in my career, it feels like I’m leveling up as a writer. I hear a little ding in my mind, celebrate for a minute or two, then get my ass back to work.
So what were some of the milestones that I’ve celebrated?
- Finishing my first short story
- Getting my first story acceptance
- Finishing my first novel
- Making that first novel not suck*
- Getting that first novel published
- Finishing a sequel
- Making that sequel not suck*
- Writing a novel in a completely new genre, new style, and new series
- Making that novel not suck*
- Getting form rejection emails from agents
- Getting partial requests from agents**
- Being asked to submit directly to a publisher**
- Getting a personal rejection email from a publisher and being told to reach out directly with other projects**
These last three are huge to me. Getting agents to request something based just on a query letter feels like a big deal. But also my experience submitting Gifts of the Earth has been a huge step forward.
Even though the publisher passed on it they said the “quality of the book wasn’t in question” and that I should reach out directly the next time I have something to submit. Anyone who’s trying to submit manuscripts knows that being able to bypass the slush pile is an enormous advantage.
Rejections are never fun, but the important thing is that there’s a trajectory here. I can’t help but celebrate that. And now if you excuse me, I have more books to write.
What about you, fellow writers? What milestones count as “leveling up” to you?