Saturday, April 28, 2012

Don't quit--your future readers NEED you!


We all get discouraged. Our first drafts are birdcage-worthy, and rejections pile up. Successes rain down from the sky, and sometimes we feel like we're standing in the only dry spot. It's times like these that cause many writers to quit.

My advice? DON'T QUIT!

In my opinion, the biggest fault with quitting is that you'd be giving up on yourself. We've all heard the quote "the only difference between the published writer and the unpublished writer is perseverance."

You know who else loses if you quit? Your future readers. If they're giving up precious time and money to buy books, don't they deserve the best? Aren't they worth the scrutiny and hard work?

Imagine this:

Picture Book Authors--Your reader grabs your book from the shelf and then settles into her mom's lap. She memorizes your words, and turns the worn pages herself. She learns about friendship, family, and acceptance in a joyful way because you didn't give up.

Middle Grade Authors--Your reader struggles through an awkward time. Her body and her life are changing faster than she can register. She's still wearing braces, and she's taller than the guy she's crushing on. Her hair and clothes aren't like the other girls', and she wants nothing more than to fit in. She clings to your character like a good friend, because you didn't give up.

Young Adult Authors--Your reader stands on the creaky bridge between childhood and adulthood. She's hanging on for dear life, because drama is all around her. Family troubles plague her. At school, she feels like she's "in" one day and "out" the next, and she knows that one wrong move can ruin her reputation. She can be bullied on Facebook, and each text she sends could be forwarded to a wide audience. She'll read your book and know that she's not alone, because you didn't give up.

Adult Authors--Your reader is stressed out and needs escape. Work is crazy. Traffic on the freeway tightens the screws on her neck. Bills to pay, kids to shuttle, house to clean. When she steals a moment away, she'll sink in a bubble bath and wet the pages of your book, lost in thought. She'll drag your book to soccer practice, or listen to it on tape while commuting. Late at night, your book will rest in her lap while she waits for her teen to come home, because you didn't give up.

When times are tough, don't be discouraged, be inspired. And think of your readers. They don't want you to quit. They need you.

Do you ever get discouraged? If so, how do you handle it? And do you imagine your readers, and what they'll think of your book? If you're published, do you imagine who's reading your book, and where they're toting it around to?

65 comments:

  1. It's easy to get discouraged when you look at the big picture. I tend to avoid that by just focusing on the very nest step of what I'm doing. So far so good! :)

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    1. Jemi, that's an excellent approach. Otherwise it could become overwhelming.

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  2. I do get discouraged, trying to get the story right, the pace right, the meaning right, the words etc. Some days it seems I can write like a literary hero and other days I feel like a cheap imitation. But I'm not quitting. Thanks for this!

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    1. Oh, I totally know what you mean about trying to get it "right." I'm going through that right now, and sometimes I love what I've written, and other times...well, not so much love.

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  3. Just worried I won't be able to produce a book worthy of my others. I don't want unhappy fans.

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    1. Alex, your fans are clearly happy! I do realize that there's that pressure for published authors, for sure.

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  4. Beautifully said my friend. This is more inspirational than I can tell you. Thank you so much!

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    1. Heather, it's my pleasure. I'm sure you've had the joy of thinking about who's reading your current work!

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  5. I've never considered all that, but I believe wholeheartedly in the sentiment. That's been my personal mantra for the last year or so.

    My all-time favorite quote is from Winston Churchill: "Never quit!"

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    1. Nancy, I almost used his quote on the photo!

      When I find myself getting selfish about this whole thing, I try to think of the future reader. That brings me around to what's important :)

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  6. Such an encouraging post for many writers, Julie!

    I think all writers get discouraged at different phases of the journey. The important thing is to pick yourself up and keep writing.

    I do focus on my future readers at times. I think that does keep me going.

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    1. Loree, it helps me when I put the whole thing in perspective. It's not "all about me."

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  7. Thanks for the pep talk, Julie. I needed this!

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    1. Gwen, it's my pleasure! We all need a little reminding from time to time

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  8. I always say, "If you don't give up, you never fail." Or something along those lines. lol

    Great inspirational post.

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    1. Miranda, that's brilliant! And even if we fail along the way, we'll get there eventually.

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  9. Julie I always feel like I can come here and soothe my wounds. *ahh* Thank you. :)
    I love this! I got a little misty eyed when I read the PB part. I don't even write PBs....yet.;) But that was great.
    How do I keep going? I have a little mantra I have to repeat and tell myself always, "Genius takes time."

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    1. Oooh, "genius takes time." Then we'll all be worth the wait!

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  10. Thank you for this post, Julie, and you know why. I really needed it today. xo

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    1. Leslie, your future readers are darn lucky, and I truly mean that. They'll laugh and cry and swoon, thanks to you.

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  11. You've almost made me teary Julie, lovely post. Reply on Twitter ;)

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    1. Catherine, your little future readers are in for a real treat!

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  12. This is so true, Julie. I think people get an unrealistic picture from TV and film of what it takes to break into the publishing business --and when their book doesn't get accepted after the third query, they figure there's no hope. They don't realize that these days, you have to send 300 or 3000--and that gathering rejections is part of the process. As you say, it's easier to get through it if you keep your eyes on the prize.

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    1. Anne, you're so right when you say "eye on the prize." As Dory said in Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming."

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  13. Hehe, "birdcage-worthy." Love it. Thanks for the uplifting words! I'm in a slight slump myself, and this is a great reminder. It's helpful to imagine teens reading my YA novels someday. I hope they'll be able to. Adults too!

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    1. Carol, I remember what your subject is, and I can only imagine how many teens will take comfort in your story.

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  14. I try my best to ignore the discouraging days because it usually isn't based on anything factual. So I ride with it, read a good book, watch a good movie.

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    1. So true, Laura. It's usually our mind playing mean tricks on us!

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  15. "Our first drafts are birdcage-worthy..."

    No kidding!!!

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    1. Linda, your earlier post sparked the idea for this post. Keep going!

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  16. Hi, Julie. I guess the reason why I have day-dreamed about quitting once or twice is due to the long day job that I have. However, it was future regrets which drove me to start writing again, and it's still pushing me to keep that proverbail nose to the grindstone even now. Thanks for the peptalk, my friend.
    Train fans, unite! ;)
    -Jimmy

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    1. Jimmy, you amaze me with all that you juggle. And your "no regrets" attitude is inspirational.

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  17. Such good advice. Sometimes I think I'm too busy to get discouraged. But the reality is that I've got the mindset and the belief system that I know the power of one day at a time. And if we always do one thing toward a goal, each day, no matter how small, we've moved in the direction toward success. How could we ever get discouraged if we're going the right direction?

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  18. What a great blog...it is so easy to feel discouraged, but you're right... thinking about the bigger picture can make a difference. Thanks.

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    1. It's so easy to get tunnel vision, right? But when we put it all in perspective, it sure does help :)

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  20. I recently wrote this on a forum I belong to about why I chose to write an (early) MG chapter book:

    I think one of the reasons I picked this type of book to write is because it is this stage/age where a kid can decide to be a reader or not. After the Easy Reader books (the ones that have LEVEL 1, 2, 3... etc.) the chapter book is the next step. When a kid reads a book like in the Junie B. Jones series or Ivy and Bean or Judy Moody series for the fist time, all by himself/herself, they think WOW, I did that! It gives the child confidence as a reader and then they know they can tackle bigger books. I want to be part of that experience for a child, to influence reading habits. My son often argues with me (when all I am trying to do is get him to read his REQUIRED 20 minutes for the day) about why reading is so important to me. Well, it just is.

    I really need to go finish writing my book:)

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    1. Julie, it sounds like you're doing a great job of nurturing your kids' reading habits. And soon you'll be helping other young readers!

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  21. Hi Julie! What a wonderful post. I'd never looked at it that way before. Thank you for providing another perspective on things.

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    1. Susanne, it was my pleasure. This helps when I'm having "It's all about me" days :)

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  22. This is a unique way to look at things. I have been discouraged lately, but blogs like this keep me motivated to do better. Thanks!!

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    1. Traci, we all help each other through the tough times, which is one of the many reasons I love blogging!

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  23. Great post! You have found another way to keep people inspired to keep at it. Not everything worth doing comes easy. Well, at least not to me. ;)

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    1. Michael, my husband and I built our own home several years ago, and when we were frustrated and ready to give up, someone told us "If it were easy, everyone would do it." So true with writing, too!

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  24. Fantastic post! As an aspiring writer with more fears than words lately, so thank you for a wonderful inspirational post.

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    1. Kathryn, those fears plague all of us! Keep on writing :)

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  25. It's so easy to get discouraged. I try and put things in perspective and take a break, read my favorite book or go to the bookstore, and then I'm all back in again. :)

    Love how you break down the future readers. I still adore my MG authors to this day.

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    1. Aw, MG are awesome, aren't they? I see them every morning when I drop my boys off at school, and I always wonder what each of them is reading.

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  26. Wow! Julie! Awesome advice! We the readers definitely need the writers to not to give up for all those great stories!

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    1. Exactly! If Jodi Picoult or John Green had given up, I wouldn't have been lucky enough to read their stories.

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  27. Julie! Such a good point! Where would I be without Heidi Betts? Sarah Mayberry? Stephanie Meyer? Readers are the ones who matter...today in my blog I mentioned how important it is for you to like your own story. But second to that, we need to remember that there are people out there who will love it, too! :)

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    1. Jessica, hard to imagine someone could love our stories as much as we do. I wonder if Stephanie Meyer or Suzanne Collins thought the same thing?? I'm glad they didn't give up :)

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  28. How very true, lots of think about.

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    1. Carole, it must be so exciting for you to think of all the little hands that have held your wonderful books.

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  29. Wow, this was the theme of a keynote address by Donald Maass at the recent Pikes Peak Writers Conference--and by the time he finished, I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. Thanks for the encouragement! I couldn't agree more :)

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  30. I know I've always hoped a reader would pick up my book and have the reaction you described, but I never thought of it as deprivation if I didn't follow through. Wow, Julie, great way to look at it!

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  31. SUch an inspirational post Julie. And I couldn't agree more:)

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  32. This is great, Julie. I love how you called that first draft "birdcage worthy." So true! :)

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  33. I've never lined my bird's cage with manuscript pages, but it's not a bad thought... :D I love the idea of thinking of your future readers. Yet another great argument on why not to give up.

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  34. Thank you for this post, Julie! I really needed it today. :)

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  35. I sometimes let myself wallow for a bit - but never too long. Great post, Julie. Don't give up =)

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