How to Deal with Discouragement


I didn’t win the writing contest. 

Is it Time to Get Off the Highway?
Is it Time to Get Off the Highway?

Not that I expected to win. Truly! I entered more for the experience and the input from the judges. My desire to become a better writer motivated me to take the plunge and humbly accept any criticism offered. I am thankful for the three judges who read and critiqued my work, offering their opinion and writing expertise.

Here’s the dilemma.

I read the first evaluation of my work and while it wasn’t off the charts promoting me as a wonderful writer, it offered some hope that all the writing, classes, critiquing, etc. had been worth it; I actually was learning something and it showed in my above average skills. Yay! The second set of comments stunned me. This particular judge scored me as a below average writer with major problems. The evaluator recommended I get help for the many elements needing work. OUCH! I gulped and read the final critique. The comments fell mostly in various places between the first two.

Writing is so subjective.

The reality of this doesn’t make it any easier to welcome criticism, but I want to grow and learn from my mistakes so I took to heart every score and comment. However, I looked for common areas needing work, and couldn’t find any. Not one of the three judges scored the same in any area! As a matter of fact, in a few areas, I received both my lowest and highest scores! I’m not sure how to interpret that. Which judge’s opinion do I go by?

Discouragement set in.

I confess that all week, since reading those reports, I’ve had the worst time sitting down to write. (In all honesty, the craziness of Christmas isn’t helping that either!) The old lies keep pounding at my door.

“You are no good as a writer and you’ll never be. No matter how hard you try. You can’t write well. Period. Give it up.”

Perhaps you’ve heard the same voices?

I finally forced myself to write for an hour. Just one. It was torture. I struggled to put a few words down and berated myself out of every one of them. But about halfway through my timer’s ticking, the words began to flow again. When the chimes sounded, ending my time, disappointment flooded me. It had been fun. I wanted more.

I guess a writer is a writer no matter how well or how poorly she writes. The discouragement still feels a bit heavy on my shoulders, but I love to write. I can’t help it. So, here’s a blog post. Thanks for reading.

What makes you discouraged about writing? How do you handle criticism or rejection?

11 thoughts on “How to Deal with Discouragement

  1. Laura, I’ve entered the Genesis a couple of times and gotten results similar to yours. A lot of the judges seem to think that writing well consists of following a lot of rules, which they often don’t even fully understand. You have to take their comments with several boatloads of salt. If a comment resonates, take it to heart; if it doesn’t, ignore it and realize it has more to do with the judge’s personal tastes and prejudices than it does with your writing. It’s all part of developing a thick writer’s skin!

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  2. Don’t reel bad dear…I can relate…I am thinking of getting a ghostwriter to finish my book and do the next rewrite. I have accepted I don’t have the skills to write for the big publishing houses but am a great blogger and have a good blogging style which people like. And I can write a mean devotion. So look for the positive ways you write Laura because you are very good in my eyes! Remember what Janet the agent told you “Well written” on your book proposal at Mt. Hermon. And that is what an editor is for, to help you rewrite your book for publication.

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  3. I can so easily picture the demonic forces who were perching nearby, ugly grins stretched across their faces, waiting to drive their spikes into your heart. As you listened to the critiques, I imagine their glee as you humbly submit to the sometimes painful-to-hear comments of humans who may not actually know more than you, but simply write and perceive differently than you.

    There’s the Ray Bradbury crowd and the Wm Shakespeare crowd with an enormous variety in between. A writer subjecting him/herself to the subjective brain of another writer…let alone three at one time…may get you some good suggestions, but will inevitably bruise…and may lead to the hardening of…the writer’s joy. Why don’t you write until the joy overcomes, then live in that. Maybe forever.

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  4. Hi Laura,
    One, you entered the contest. Most only dream of entering.
    Two, put the comments away for a week, and then pull them out. You’ll be surprised at what you missed the first time around.
    Three, judges who are human. There are a number of factors that come into play. They may be too tired, had a fight with a spouse, overworked, the topic might have hit too close to home.
    I don’t know if you get your writing critique before you send it out, but I’d highly recommend it. Another pair of editing eyes will build you up and offer honest constructive criticisms.
    If you haven’t contacted Marcy Kennedy at http://www.marcykenndy.com, you should. I think you’re following her blog.
    And that nasty voice you hear is from the enemy, he doesn’t want you to succeed, so stomp on the voice and carry on in God’s strength.
    Merry Christmas, Laura
    Tracy 🙂

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    1. Thank you dear writer friend! I believe you’re right about reading the comments later. I think I will have a more objective mind. And yes, those enemy voices sure sound loud, but I appreciate the stomp you just gave them on my behalf. All of this encouragement is such a blessing! Thank you. Merry Christmas to you too 🙂

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  5. I love the way you ended this! So positive! The professional judges don’t seem to cherish the same things that avid readers cherish. I don’t look for polished sentences or exotic settings – I look for real life and real vulnerabilities and everyday happenings. If I happen to find honest reaching out to Christ I am even happier with the writer. I suspect your writing is probably much more what I would want to read than that produced by any of your “judges.” Keep reaching for God’s goal for you.

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    1. Thank you for reading and for your encouragement! I realize that anyone critiquing offers their opinion to be helpful. Sometimes it’s difficult to feel that in the moment. With publishers, it’s a business; and it should be, but I agree that real life appeals to me more than some writing that is on the market. It’s all very subjective, isn’t it? But thank God for the individuality that makes us all appreciate a variety!

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