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Guest Post: Heather Hansen on Dealing With Disappointment

Today I have a guest post by one of my fabulous critique partners, Heather Hansen.  You can visit her blog here where she's always posting some kind of cuteness or hilarity.  One word, people: PUPPY.

(Keep an eye on this girl.  Great, great books to come.)

Here's Heather!

Heather_2Dealing with Disappointment:

There’s lots of advice out there on the steps to get published. I have to admit, when I read them I can’t help but snicker. Yeah, sure, in a perfect world maybe you could write a book, query agents, land an agent, sub to publishers, sell and BAM! your book comes out in a bookstore.

It does work like that. It’s rare, but it happens. We all know someone that's happened to.

For the majority of us, we get stuck somewhere along that timeline. Sometimes for years… Sigh. *raises hand* I’ve been stuck between “land an agent” and “sub to publishers” for … oh, almost two years. :)

Guess what? I got past that hurdle.

There’s always going to be disappointment in this business. The trick is to use it to your advantage.

So what do you do when everyone around you is seeing success and you’re not?

Stay optimistic

Number one most important thing is to keep a good attitude. Sadness, depression, anger… these affect your writing. Either you can’t write or the writing is unintentionally angry.

And if you can’t stay optimistic – and I admit that I can’t! – get some friends who can be optimistic for you. There is nothing more important than having a cheering section!!!

(thanks Mom, Casey, Suzanne and Deb!)

Focus on your goals

All that energy that you’re using to get angry and/or cry (*raises hand again*), it’s more productive to use it to achieve your goal. Figure out what it is that you really want. That doesn’t mean “have a book in a bookstore.” Focus on something that is in your power to accomplish within the next three to six months.

Ask for help

I was shy about asking for help. I paid for that shyness for many years. Many. I could have been much farther along with my career if I had just stopped and asked someone to tell me what I was doing wrong.

I admire people who do ask for help. This is actually how I met Casey two years ago. She wanted to improve her writing and needed someone to bounce ideas off of. We clicked. Of course, now she outshines me!

Write another book

It may take 5… 7… 10 books to make it work. What I do know for absolute certainty is that you will never be published if you don’t keep trying.

Don’t put your eggs in one basket! If you’re subbing one book, you should be almost done with another. That way when you’ve completed your submission cycle you have another to pimp.

Key things to note:

Make sure the idea is BIGGER AND BETTER. Can you pitch your novel in one sentence? If not, go back and keep at it until you can… and then write it, not before!

Work on your craft. No one is a perfect writer. We all learn. Do not think you’re above learning.

Read! Read! Read!

Go to Conferences

Networking! I cannot stress enough how important networking is!

There are different conference stages depending on where you are in your career. In the beginning you’re there to learn. That morphs in to making friends with other authors (this is gold!). After that it becomes scoping out the agents/editors you want to work with.

You better believe that I have an opinion about whom I want to sub to. I can make that opinion because I’ve met/talked/hung out with the editors in question.

Rethink what you’re doing

Don’t bang your head against a wall! If you’re in a bad relationship would you just take it and never say anything? Never try to do anything different? No! You’d try to fix the problem. Why then do writers do the same things over and over again and expect different results?

For me, I was not understanding what my previous agent wanted. I don’t really think that was either of our faults. I’m sure she was trying to impart her wisdom to me and I was trying to learn it. Still, we broke up.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Okay, yeah, it didn’t feel that way at the time. It felt like I’d gotten a divorce and didn’t even get alimony payments let alone the bed, car, couch or the dog.

But then… I was open to accepting new representation. And I did. My current agent is Mark McVeigh – I’m only name dropping because I adore him. *gush* I wish everyone was as happy with their agents as I am.

You know what? I got it. He made sense to me.

Be proactive instead of reactive

Bottom line is this: You’re going to be disappointed. There are a million things you can’t control. Grab the ones you can! Do whatever it is you can to get ahead! Your biggest advocate is you.


Bio:  Heather L. Hansen lives on a tropical island in the East China Sea. With two kids and a marine husband, she writes to keep her sanity. Heather writes young adult novels that are a little particular, always sassy, with just a touch of angst. And of course kissing!  You can visit her for the daily dish at http://heatherhansen.blogspot.com


Christina said...

This is exactly what I needed to read today. I'm getting to a bad place with my writing, and I need to step back and do something constructive with my frustration. Thank you so much!

Emily J. Griffin said...

Thanks Heather (and Casey). I feel like we just had a intervention because you guys hate my BF and finally had to tell me just to kick him to the curb. Love the analogy! If it's not working - do something else! Well done!

Anonymous said...

Hi :)
Thank you very much for sharing Heather.
This was a great post.
I cut & pasted it into my Writing folder.
I will definitely follow the wisdom and advice you gave.
All the best,

PJ Hoover said...

Such a great bunch of thoughts and advice! Thank you, Heather, for taking the time to write them all out!

Heather Kelly said...

Heather-- great advice. I love the "be proactive instead of reactive." It's so easy to take the rejections personally. Thanks for sharing!

Hilary Wagner said...

I'm in total agreement with Heather. I used to get so down in the dumps over things. I've collected enough rejection letters to wrap myself a birthday present until I'm 175 years old (not joking either), but after I started to laugh about it, instead of getting down on myself. I felt better, my writing got better, I landed my dream agent, who I just love, and boom, it happened!

I have a friend who just landed an agent after querying over 8 completed MS! That's a long time and whopping amount of rejection. I'm so happy for her. I know she's going to be a bestseller!

Dreams do happen! Great article as always, Casey!! Such good advice!

xoxo -- Hilary

Elana Johnson said...

I love reading/hearing the advice of people who have been there. This is fantastic. I think I'll print it out and read it often. Thanks!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

How fun you and Heather are friends! I contacted Heather when MM requested a manscript, asking her if she could fill me in a little on him. It was evident how much she loves working with someone who gets her work. A perfect match!

Suzanne Young said...

As always, Heather makes lots of sense. Listen up, all. She is wise. :-)

Heather Hansen said...

I had to laugh - the puppy post was not the one Casey was threatening to link. Heh!

I'm glad this resonated with everyone. I truly mean this advice. Keep on, keeping on! You can do it.

Deb Markanton said...

As always, Heather gives sage advice. With a dose of whoop ass! I know, I've got the bruises to prove it. LOL Just kidding. But seriously people, print this out and pin it to your shirt.
I stepped out of my comfort zone six months ago and posted on Flashy Fiction. Now I have two fantastic critique partners (thanks Heather and Casey!)and am much further(farther? I never get this straight) along than I ever hoped to be!
I will be forever grateful!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Whaddaya mean there's no magic bullet? (kidding) Great advice, even if it's not always what we want to hear :)

Casey Something said...

Love the post, Heather!

We have to use our disappointments (and jealousy!) to push us further. There really aren't any good alternatives.

Anonymous said...

Hi, scary title and with an uplighting theme. Thank you for the inspiring post. Always like what I can do instead type of articles.
Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord Latino Authors

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your very helpful post. I struggle with this periodically too and then am not as motivated to write. I'm going to remember your advice and keep at it. Sometimes, since I work full time at a demanding job too, I find taking a few days off and getting more sleep can help. When I'm tired, everything seems worse.

Thanks so much for your post.


Fran Caldwell said...

Fantastic post. Everyone can benefit from this one...

Lisa Schroeder said...

Heather - LOVE this post!

Unknown said...

Great post! Very nice--and just what I needed today!