As writers or artists (or really just people), there are a lot of times we feel validated. There are also a lot of times we feel rejected and criticized. One of my plays, THE SPINS, is about to open at Out of Box Theatre, and it’s been an amazing experience. When I received an offer of representation from my literary agent, that was a wonderful feeling. When I had the opportunity to attend a writing residency with Nova Ren Suma, that felt incredible. On the other hand, I once had a staged reading of a musical I wrote where I was told during the talk back afterwards that my play wasn’t working at all and my songs were boring. There are also the times when I’ve gotten one rejection letter after another. I’ve written blog posts that have hardly been read or shared by anyone.
Being a writer is a real roller coaster. If you place so much value on how many contests you win, how many books you publish or plays you produce, how many great reviews you have on Amazon, or how many people visit your blog, the way you feel about your writing will constantly be dependent upon other people. This is exhausting.
I read a blog post today from Jennifer Garam called “How to Keep Writing When No One Gives a Shit“, and it really made me think. In the post, she talks about how it is essential to have a greater purpose with your writing. I encourage you to read her post, and then I encourage you to make a list of all of the reasons you write. If I were making such a list, it would go something like:
I write because I love stories. I write because I want to understand other people. I write because I want to uncover a deeper truth about life. I write to understand myself better. I write because I want to inspire other people and make other people feel all of the things my favorite writers have made me feel.
I could go on much longer, but you get the drift.
It’s important to root yourself in something deeper than the reviews, the critique, the acceptance, the rejection. It’s important to focus on the love of the written word that transcends all of the other stuff we have to put up with as writers.
Make your own list. And next time, the rejections are piling up and you are feeling down about your writing, pull out your list and remember why you love writing in the first place. Chances are, you write because you love it. And no matter what happens once you put your writing out into the world, no one can ever take that away from you.