Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

3 Powerful Ways to Transform Your Writing Life

Marcy McKay is a regular contributor here on Positive Writer, so it is with great pride that I congratulate her on her first Novel, Pennies from Burger Heaven. It’s a wonderful gem, don’t miss it! Join me in congratulating Marcy in the comments.

Writing is hard work. In 1995, a voice woke me from a dream and told me to write a book. I did.

succeed-in-writing

Well, okay, maybe I freaked out for months about my pending fame and fortune first, then it took several more years for me to complete that blasted thing (which pretty much sucked and will never see the light of day). But, by Gawd, I did it. I wrote a novel, then another, and still one more.

Every day, I got to my computer by 5 a.m. to toil over my current work-in-progress before my husband and young children woke up. The kids went to school and the grownups went to their jobs. It took me a mere 20 years since for my fourth completed manuscript to become my debut novel, Pennies from Burger Heaven (a literary suspense by SkipJack Publishing).

For all the writers out there, I have this piece of advice for you…

Never. Give. up.

That sounds cliche, but it’s true. To succeed in writing, you’ll need an endless supply of stamina, persistence and all kinds of stick-to-itiveness.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re human. You’re going to be discouraged. You’ll face criticism and rejection, as well as doubt yourself more times than not. You’ll want to give up. You might even do so for days, weeks, months or years.

If you really want to to succeed, then you need to dig deep within yourself to keep trying. No matter what. You must return to that blank page, send another query letter, review your final Kindle proof for the twentieth time, or tackle whatever ever literary task you’re trying to accomplish.

Here are three ways to help you persevere.

1. Focus more on the craft

It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at. –Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

I know it’s not sexy, and you’d rather hear about the miracle way to shoot to the top of the New York Times’ Bestseller’s list, but too many people rush to publication, then regret it later. Big time. Their characters are one-dimensional with predictable outcomes, or they put out a sloppy, nonfiction book. You get one chance to make a good first impression. Make the most of it.

FYI, if you’ve just started writing or haven’t been at it very long, then your words may be lacking. That’s both reasonable and to be expected. Stop fretting because you don’t pen a masterpiece on your first try. Be willing to be bad in order to become great.

On the flip side, you have to put in the time and effort. Talking about writing isn’t writing. Posting cool author quotes isn’t writing. Only writing is writing. Researching and outlining count, too, but don’t stay stuck in this phase too long, because then it becomes procrastination. Shut up, sit down and start typing.

Get feedback on your work, enter contests (Positive Writer is starting an exciting new writing contest next week, so subscribe and stay tuned), share your story when it’s ready, then move on to the next one. Read wonderful books for pleasure. It’s really that simple, and truly that hard.

2. Take Risks

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. –J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter

Take a creative writing course. Go to that conference where your dream agent is presenting. Query that literary journal about your short story. It might not work out in your favor as soon as you’d like, but it will never happen unless you at least try. Failure is a necessary part of creativity. Stop fearing it because if you do not fail, then you’re not trying hard enough. Every “no” takes you one step closer to that glorious “yes.”

If you just started writing, don’t fixate on publication, publication, publication. Focus more on the smaller successes:

You’ve written every day for two weeks now. Hurray!

You outlined your entire novel. Congratulations!

You volunteered to read your opening paragraph at a workshop even though it terrified you to do so. Fantastic!

Small steps are the way to giant victories.

 3. Believe in yourself

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do…we feel useful. –Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

This should probably be #1, but you would’ve ignored this whole post if I did, so I placed it last. Believe in yourself. Some find it easier to stay positive by surrounding yourself with other writers (online and in person) because they understand your struggles, can offer accountability and even feedback.

Keep in mind, it needs to be the right set of writers. Humans can be critical, snarky and jealous. Yes, you need to hear the truth about where to improve your work, but you also don’t need to be around people who leave you feeling abused.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have people in your everyday life who understand and appreciate your passion to write, don’t discuss it with them. Seriously, change the subject if they do. More than likely, they’re too afraid to honor their dreams, so they don’t want you to break out of the status quo. Ignore them as best as you, but write anyway.

Bottom Line

Be willing to work hard, face adversity and never give up:

On your dream.

On yourself.

On your writing.

About Marcy McKay

Marcy McKay wanted to write stories ever since she read about Oompa Loompas in fourth grades. She's the Amazon best-selling author of Pennies from Burger Heaven. Join her on Facebook. Marcy is also a contributing author to The Audacity to be a Writer.

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  • Marie-Claire Allington

    Great timing – I am in a fit of glooms about a revision I am doing today though yesterday I was fine with it – pick self up and carry on. 🙂

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      You’re a wise woman, Marie-Claire. To help you better understand the next time this happens, it was probably Fear that tripped you up. You were “fine” yesterday. Fear hates that, so it sabotaged you with self-doubt.

      The antidote to Fear? Just what you’re doing, ignore it and keep going! Good luck!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Dearest Marcyy #HUGSSSSS

    Your words always arrive at the most opportune moments….I am working on an assignment that was due yesterday and am stuck.

    You ‘oil’ my fears and get me moving….

    LOVE YOU SO MUCh
    K

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Hi Kitto,

      I’m so glad my word were what you needed to hear today. Get busy on that project, so you can get on to other things. xo – m3

  • Madani

    Hi, Marcy
    It’s a great pleasure to read you again. It’s a pity I didn’t know about your pieces of advice 45 years ago. I say 45 years because I started to write at the age of seventeen but because of the absolute disdain the people in my environment have for everything that have any relationship with books I gave up writing. I came back to my desk at the age of fifty, I am now 63. I have written seven novel and although it’s seems impossible for me to get published, i continue to write and read and write and read. I join my voice to yours and to the others NEVER GIVE UP.
    Please don’t pay too much attention to the poorness of my English. I do not master your language enough.

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Hello there, Madani,

      It always pleases me to hear from you. I’m so glad that your heart find its way back to writing, and make not mistake — you have the heart of a writer. Listen to your own advice….NEVER GIVE UP!

  • Phil Turner

    Thanks Marcy – for reminding us that nothing worthwhile comes easily, that failure is part of success and that bouncing back from failure is a necessary part of being a writer.
    Thanks for telling it like it is – Tough.

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Hi there, Phil,

      You and I both keep it real with our writing, don’t we? Failure is a necessary part of writing…and LIFE. Take care, and thanks for stopping by.

  • Nicole M

    Marcy, its good to hear from someone else who took awhile to get from point A to point B. Thanks for the encouragement and congratulations on your book!

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Thanks so much, Nicole.

      It’s taken me more than a while to get from point A to point B. I’ve more than paid my dues, and am LOVING how much my novel is connecting with readers. It’s made all my blood, sweat and tears worth it.

      Thanks for your comment, and best of luck with your writing!

  • Christine Niles

    Great great advice, Marcy!! Congrats on your novel and ALL the hard work it took to get here!!

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      I appreciate your excitement for me, Christine. It’s harrrrrrrd work to publish a novel (or short story or screenplay, etc.), but everything worthwhile in this life takes hard work! Good luck in all your writing pursuits.

  • EmFairley

    Marcy, you know what I think of you and your writing… Amazing, inspirational and so darn good! AND this is exactly that! Thank you!

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Many thanks, and much love. I keep trying to figure out how to create a box with your voice (and Kitto’s, too) to open up and praise me whenever I need a pick-me-up!

      xoxoxo – m3

      • EmFairley

        I might just have a solution to that! I’ll tell ya about it privately 🙂 xoxox <3

        • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

          Ha! Do tell….do tell. 🙂

  • Sarah Riv

    Congrats Marcy! So glad to see you back.

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Hi there, Sarah!

      It’s great to be back. May all your writing dreams come true in 2016. Every story is written the same way…one word at a time.

  • Julie Mayerson Brown

    Love your article, as usual Marcy! Glad you addressed the people in our everyday lives (family and wonderful friends!) who do not understand or encourage or even support our writing. I’m learning, as you suggested, to avoid discussing it with those who don’t care or appear to be annoyed.
    Also, my skin is thick and getting thicker – trying to go from Iguana to full on alligator! Favorite hashtag – #dontgiveup. Thanks for the great reminders. You’ve encouraged me today! 🙂 xoxo

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Yeah, it’s tough when family and friends don’t get it. Honestly, that’s part of why I got up so early is so my husband and kids couldn’t complain about me taking time away from them….so, I could still go to lunch with friends.

      FINALLY publishing my book and them LOVING IT has been so rewarding. They see my hard work paid off, and respect me for it.

      I always love to hear from you. Hope your novel is going well, Julie!

  • Doris Stone

    Congratulations! Marcy. I’m so excited for you. Also, thank you for the pep talk. You brightened my day and inspired me to quit procrastinating and put my butt in the chair.

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Hi there, Doris,

      Thanks so much for your excitement. This really is a thrilling time. I’m glad I gave you your daily dose of inspiration. There’s nothing magical about writing….it’s just sitting your rear in the chair and doing the work. Day, after day, after day…

  • Miriam N

    Its been so long since I’ve commented on a blog post especially one of Marcy’s :). Hello Marcy^^. How’s that writing challenge going? Mine’s going pretty good. I just keep writing and writing and well writing. Haven’t stopped yet and am not letting myself edit before I write the words ‘the end’. Beautiful blog post yet again Marcy :). I’ve been absent a long time, but real life tends to happen once in a while. Hope you are well and again congratulations!

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Many thanks, Miriam. It’s terrific to hear from you. I’m so glad your personal writing challenge is going well. That makes my DAY! Keep at it. Time, patience and practice are the key to writing success. 🙂

  • S.Ramalingam

    Ok.I am taking all the three steps mentioned by you in your article.Let’s wait and see what happens.

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Atta boy! It’s just one small step at a time. Don’t try to take on too much, too soon, or Fear will kick in and terrify you. Just write, believe (even when it’s horrible…our writing is usually pretty bad in the beginning), but keep going.

  • Dionne

    Thank you for this post. It was right on time!👍

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      I’m delighted my post helped you, Dionne. Get busy and get to work!

      • Dionne

        I’m working! I’m working! 1142 words this morning on my summary outline. Trying to restructure my NaNoWriMo 2015 project. But thanks for the butt kicking. I need it!

        • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

          Whooo, 1,142 words in one morning? Impressive. That’s how it’s done, Dionne. Just a little be every day. Keep it up!

  • Jasper Oldersom

    Hi Marcy,

    You touched me with this article. Thank you for sharing your personal story. Becoming a writer ain’t easy…

    Before I decided to start writing, I had a lot of doubts. I learned to choose myself, as James Altucher would say.

    I’m glad I decided to get out of my shell — because it allowed me to become a better writer through practice and feedback. I’m not Stephen King, so what? If I won’t try, I’ll never be great.

    A student of the craft, I am *Yoda voice*….It’s good to see #2 included. I read a lot. I just finished reading an engaging and thoughtful book called “How To Not Write Bad” by Ben Yagoda (which, coincidentally, sounds a bit like Yoda.)

    I still make a trillion mistakes. I’m improving, though. Word by word. In 1995, I was only three years old. It’s exciting to think about what the future holds. I hope hard work, a strong desire and determination will stack the odds in my favor.

    Believing in yourself is so important. A lot of big minds (think Walt Disney) believed in themselves when so called “experts” didn’t. For me, it helps to be engaged in a community of writers.

    Thank you for the empowering words and inspiration, Marcy.

    Enjoy the rest of your week 🙂

    – Jasper

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      LOVED your thoughtful message, Jasper. Believe in yourself, keep writing, don’t give up after setback/failures/whatever you want to call them…then, you’ll find success.

  • Ching-Ern Yeh

    Congrats Marcy on your first published book! How does it feel?

    • http://www.mudpiewriting.com/ Marcy Mason McKay

      Hi Ching,

      It feels AWESOME (and scary, and overwhelming sometimes), but mainly awesome. I DID IT! And, it was worth the effort. Great to hear from you. I hope you’re well.

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  • Dawn Dean

    Fantastic article, Marcy! I’m working on my second novel. I decided that my first was more for me than the public. I’m at 61,000 words and counting. Once I get to the end I want to go back to the beginning and fill in what’s missing. I just know it’s going to be a great story when it’s finished. Your advice will help me along the way!