Discouragement

Recently, on a yahoo groups I belong to, the topic has been Discouragement. I don’t want to start a similar discussion here, but it is a subject that touches many (if not all) of us at some time or another.

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It’s my belief that we, who are in a creative field (art, acting, writing) or even sports, automatically set ourselves up to be discouraged. Through the media, including our professional organizations, we see the stars, the great ones, the successful ones. The rich and famous. Our dream is to be one of them, to write the great American (or any country) novel. We want to win honors. Be the keynote speaker at conferences. Make Gazillions of dollars. Get thousands of five star reviews. Be recognized by complete strangers as “that” writer.

Sounds great, but for most of us, myself included, it’s not going to happen.

According to WriterServices ( Books Published Worldwide in 2013) there were 28 million books published worldwide in 2013.

According to Bowker®, in 2013 around 304,912 books were traditionally published while 1,108,183 books were non-traditionally published. (That includes reprints as well as self-published.) Bowker stats for 2013

Only a small percentage of fiction and non-fiction books ever become best sellers or even halfway best sellers. I’m sure most of you reading this blog could name the “stars” within the genre you write. Yet there are probably thousands of writers who have written really good books—often many really, really good books—and yet we’ve never heard of them, or are only aware of a few of these writers because of the social media we’re on or conferences we’ve attended.

It is easy to get discouraged.

One writer discussing this topic on the yahoo group mentioned how discouraging it was to get a one star review from someone who panned the book because it included fantasy (even thought it was listed as a fantasy). Others have talked about how they put so much time and money into a book and end up only selling a few copies each year. Even those who have been published traditionally (again, myself included) have run into situations where the publisher folds or closes a line, or an editor who loves your writing leaves the company and the replacement isn’t wild about your voice. Events occur beyond the writer’s control, but it’s the writer’s sales that are affected.

It is discouraging.

I don’t see any easy remedy. I’ve always told potential writers, if you can NOT write, then don’t. If you don’t write, you won’t worry about finding an agent or a publisher or how much publicity you’ll need to get good sales. You won’t care if an editor can’t get to your manuscript because she just had a baby. It won’t bother you that a reviewer just tore your story to shreds.

Problem is, for most writers NOT writing isn’t an option. The stories keep coming, and we want to share them. We can’t stop hoping or writing.

The on-line group’s discussions have changed to encouragement, which is what we need to do. Encourage each other and encourage ourselves. Yes there will be days when we’re discouraged…but the day after that you might hear from a reader who “absolutely loved your book.” Then it’s all worthwhile.

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14 Responses to Discouragement

  1. Pat Klein says:

    As usual, Maris, you’re spot on. I always look forward to your posts. Hope to see you in Lakeview. Hugs.

  2. Melissa Keir says:

    Discouragement is real but combating it is better. Encouragement is more uplifting and finding people who support you is just as important. We all fall down… it feels so much better when there are people to pick us up.

  3. Ann Bennett says:

    I’ve recently stopped reading a blog that gets to the negative side of writing. You have to recognize that your writing is a response to that voice inside you. True that I will never earn a living writing; but I’ve never made a cent exercising. Physically I am benefitting from my lifelong habit. Not everything of value pays money. Otherwise we would all be childless. Lol

  4. With so many books being self-published today as well as traditionally published, the chances of being financially successful and/or gaining recognition are slim. And yet it does happen. Someone does win the lottery. With writing, as long as you write a quality book, there’s always a chance.

    • Maris SouleMaris Soule says:

      You’re right, Jacqueline, there is always a chance (which is why I sometimes buy lottery tickets, too), and as long as the process is fulfilling and we know we’re doing our best, then there’s nothing wrong with having that hope.

  5. I watched with interest as the subject played out. I love that it turned to encouragement.

    • Maris SouleMaris Soule says:

      Stephanie, I, too, was pleased to see the topic expand. Not only have the postings been encouraging, they’ve also shown the value of persistence and of being willing to take a chance.

  6. Oh, so true! It can be discouraging and disheartening. But at the same time, the community of romance writing has proven that encouragement works!

    • Maris SouleMaris Soule says:

      Alyssa, it’s not only the romance community. I belong to other groups and I’ve found the writers there are also encouraging. That said, it seems to be mostly female writers who encourage others. Hmm.

  7. As another Five Star mystery author wondering what to do next, I was disappointed when the mystery line was dropped, but not really discouraged. I do have two mystery manuscripts in the works, but I’m also tempted to write another historical mystery for Frontier Fiction, I’d like to tackle a romance novel, and then maybe see what the market is like for a strong young woman protagonist mystery series aimed at YA or New Adult. I need to do some homework on all these ideas, of course, but I think that’s part of the fun of writing. I hope you go for the gusto, Maris, and explore new genres and styles. Maybe you have a hidden talent you don’t even know about yet.

    • Maris SouleMaris Soule says:

      Thanks, Patricia. It sounds like you have a busy future ahead. And you’re right, disappointment (a line being discontinued) often leads to new opportunities, ones we might not have tried if we hadn’t been pushed out of our comfort zone. And we’re lucky nowadays. We have many options. My discouragement is my body doesn’t always agree with my plans.