This past week I saw a question I have seen, and heard, for years. “How do you know when you’re wasting your time on a project?” or “When should I give up on what I’m working on?” Same basic question. These are questions that every creative person has faced at least 3,000 times.(I picked a number) As a writer, and photographer, I wrestle with this all the time. I call this the anti-conscience. The anti-conscience is the voice that tells you “you’re no good“, and that “you’ll never amount to anything, that what you’re doing is worthless.”
Don’t let it win. Writers have to fight these feelings off all the time, with every rejection slip, with every critique, this voice chimes in. It tells us that we can’t write and should give up without a fight. Before you run to the corner, with your head hanging in shame, just remember that even the greatest have had to face this problem.
We all have dreams, and when we persue those dreams the anti-conscience has an opening to shut us down. Sometimes we can give ourselves the strength to go on, and sometimes we need to look to others for the inspiration and guidance, but in the end we can never give up. Our dreams give us hope that we can make a difference, our hope gives us faith to believe in our abilities, and faith gives us the strength to see it happen.
As long as we don’t give up on our dreams, we can keep this voice under control, and it will never win. Only then will our dreams come true.
Challenge: If the anti-conscience is still strong, and you feel you can’t go on, let these publishing statistics inspire you. Print them and put them where they can help you the most.
1) Mary Higgins Clark’s first story was rejected 40 times.
2) Alex Haley’s “Roots” was rejected 200 times.
3) “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham was declined by 15 publishers & 30 agents.
4) “Robinson Crusoe” was rejected by 20 publishers
5) “Harry Potter” was rejected 30 times.
6) Zelda wouldn’t marry F. Scott Fitzgerald until he sold his first story. He used the rejection slips to wallpaper his bedroom.