Writing and Thick Skin

If you want to survive as a writer, you will need to develop thick skin – images (1)as thick as a hippopotamus’s behind – for several reasons, but I’ll give you two.

Reason No. 1

When you tell someone you are writing your first novel two actions happen: first, they will tell you how excited they are for you and second – they will ask when your book is being published. It doesn’t matter whether you have just written one chapter or whether you have completed your novel – from then on – that person will query you unmercifully on when you will be published. No one, aside from those in the business, have any clue how long it takes to:

  • Come up with a plot, interesting characters, inciting incident, climax and denouement
  • How long it takes to write 80,000 meaningful words
  • How long it takes to revise it
  • The length of time it takes to acquire an agent (if you acquire one at all)
  • The amount of time it takes for an agent to sell your book to a publisher (if they manage to do it at all)
  • Once accepted by a publisher, how long it takes for edits, book covers, galleys etc. to be done before the book can actually make its way to a book shelf

Reason No. 2

During the writing process, every writer needs input from someone else.

  • Is there an inciting incident that sets the protagonist on his course of action?
  • Is the story flowing well?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Is there too much backstory?
  • Characters? Sub-plots?
  • Do I have a clue what I’m writing about?

Getting answers to these questions can seriously challenge someone with thin skin. How can you not take comments personally? images (3)This is your baby we’re talking about – right? But you have to. Having said that, not all comments are constructive or have to be accepted.

You are the creator of your work. Ultimately, you have the choice of how your work should shape up … but, if you cannot bear the thought of anyone making constructive, or negative, comments about your work then be prepared to never see your novel in print.

Once you get past the idea that critiques are so hard to accept, you will start to view them as wonderful gifts instead.

Writers have to learn to take a lot of rejection. During the act of creating your story, there will be other writers or readers who find your story unpalatable, mediocre or boring. Others will find they want to lop off chunks of your hard work – reams of words that you’ve spent hours writing. It’s tough. You need a thick skin.

Later, when you are trying to acquire an agent there is even more need to develop a thick skin. Most agents don’t seem to even bother reading your query, don’t bother replying or reply with what you know is a form letter.

Don’t worry if the criticism or rejection hurts so much. Take it, cry for a day, find the constructive elements in that critique or remember that popular writers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling were rejected many times and develop that thick skin.


2016 Spring Writing Classes for Beginners and Advanced

Creative Writing 101 – Tues. afternoons April 12 – June 28 in Oakville

Crafting Your Novel – Wed. afternoons April 13 – June 29 in Oakville

Crafting Your Novel – Thurs. afternoons April 14 – June 30 in Oakville

For more details click on the links or email beverleyburgessbell@gmail.com

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