Bad advice is everywhere

…especially on writing.

One piece of awful advice is getting under my skin this morning. I have come across it again and again and so will you if you are navigating this culture. The advice is this, and PLEASE don’t take it: Wall paper your office with your rejection letters.

Why on this amazing, promising, blessed earth would anyone do this??? Why say such a thing? What’s worse is that so many people say that they are doing just that, and they seem pleased with themselves for doing it.  If you do this, please comment below, tell me why? How can that possibly help you?


It would be the same thing as a sports player watching his failures from every preceding game on video in the locker room before the new game. This is not smart. It is more like psychologically defeating. It is NOT motivational. So many people think that is why they do it. They are wrong. Being reminded of past failure is like having your ex boyfriend or little brother taunt you again and again. It’s self deprecating.

Motivation comes from a good place. Motivation is the exuberant and triumphant feeling that lifts your heart until you are certain that this time will be different, and it really will be if you keep trying.  I suggest papering your immediate area with all the compliments and cut off the downers. Put pictures of your support network up. The people who believe in you are good motivation. The people who didn’t are just small pieces of a larger picture. Most rejections are form letters anyway. I don’t even read them anymore.  Once I get to the “sorry for the informal nature of this response.” I hit delete. They have no words of wisdom. It’s just a blank letter. There is nothing to glean from it. Don’t try.

Now, there is merit, certainly, in the rejections who actually give you advice. Type up a sheet of one liners that will be useful and keep them near for editing. Cut out the rejection part, keep the “Great action sequence, liked the pacing, could use a flying elephant.”

Compliments remind you that you have a gift to share. Suggestion for flying elephant should be held onto. It may make the difference one day. The rejection, rejection, rejection, is part of the publishing process. It happens to everyone. You live and learn and grow as a writer and a human. Rejection builds character. Life experience builds wisdom. If you are trying to write while surrounded with walls of rejection letters, please, I implore you, take them down. Keep the useful, recycle the rest. You will be glad that you did.

1 comment to Bad advice is everywhere

  • Erin Edwards

    I agree. I can’t imagine doing this. Maybe use them to line the cat box? :) (I have no cat box. Or bird cage. Oh, well.)

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