The Mindset to Have Before Receiving a Reply
It seems like everyone talks about the benefits of getting published in literary journals, or reading them, or why you should submit to them. But what good comes from the act itself of submitting to journals if you end up with a rejection? What good did all of the planning, writing, rewriting, and editing do for you?
In my experience, there are a few things that always comes to mind when I go through this process. One is the ever-present WHAT HAVE I DONE thought once I hit “submit.” But another thought is the crippling doubt that comes from working on a piece, knowing it will be judged. You can believe, however, that it does get easier to put yourself out there (albeit slowly). So if you have these thoughts or similar ones going through your head while in this cycle, try to think of what good you’re doing for yourself when you go through the process again.
Here are a few things to keep in mind after submitting to literary journals and magazines, between when you start writing and when you receive a reply.
You Develop an Overall Process
There are LOTS of articles that talk about where and how to submit to literary journals. One thing to keep mind, however, is that it’s not one size fits all. For the where, we’re not all going to be submitting to the same places. We all have different platforms that intrigue us, whether for its reputation, content, etc. For the how, it’s a matter of coming up with your own tried-and-true way of creating your best work.
Of course, there’s a lot of trial and error here, and you may not always be successful, but if you’re comfortable with how you go about your writing process, chances are that you’re at your best creatively when you follow it. (This is not to say that you SHOULDN’T trying new things with your writing and take risks, especially if you aren’t satisfied with where you are, but that’s another story). The point is that once you find your rhythm, you start taking significant steps forward.
Submitting to journals then makes for great practice. For one thing, if you stick to a process you’re developing, even if you don’t know if it’ll pay off, you’ll be able to tell if you should make changes before starting again. Because you’re not just editing your writing, you’re editing yourself as well. If you feel that you should be going in a different direction, try that new direction out, whatever that may be, when going through the submission process again.
You Grow in Confidence (or Should)
If you’re still trying to get your footing and a boatload of rejections comes your way, it can be easy to lose confidence. You started to wonder if you should be writing at all. What’s the point? Why am I going through the same endless cycle and not getting anywhere?
Well, if you feel like a failure, push the thought that you ARE a failure out of your mind. That’s only bringing you down. Good writers know when to edit, so when you know something isn’t right and you fix it, know that you’re heading toward the place you’re supposed to be. So if you don’t find success in something you did, get back up, edit yourself, and try again.
The fact that you’re trying and submitting over and over again should tell you that you’re not one to give up easily. Confidence will build when you succeed, but in the meantime, while your submitting, have confidence knowing that you’re still making progress with yourself, turning into the writer you want to be.
It’s Just Good Practice
Lastly, it’s good to get a feel for researching journals, writing what they think they would want, and sending it out. Like with what I said earlier about developing a process, you have the time to look back at what you could have done differently after it’s done. Then you get up, change things that need changing, and do it again.
It’s not like you can get better if you DON’T practice anyway. And chances are you’re not going to get it right the first time. Even if you do get accepted into a journal, good writers are never satisfied with the place they’re in. They like to keep growing, which is why they often cringe looking back at what they’ve written in the past. Writers like that practice, learning from both their failures AND successes, so even if it gets frustrating, just know that you’re better off trying over and over and failing rather than doing nothing at all.
Once, in a moment of frustration, I voiced these same fears and doubts to one of my writer friends. She gave me some advice that I haven’t forgotten, which simply was, “Your time will come.” If you keep working toward your goal, you’re going to experience some pitfalls, but that only prepares you for what’s ahead. It’s best to practice ahead of time if you want to be ready for it.
Want to know more? Click the LEARN MORE button at home. You’ll find some helpful links to my work in journals, which I have started posting here too. You can find me in Ariel Chart, The Cedarville Review, Nailpolish Stories, Bluepepper, 50 Word Stories, The Aurora Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, The Drabble, and Anti-heroin Chic, and Sledgehammer Lit. You can now also find my FREE microchap at Origami Poems Project, which I hope to offer for free here soon.
Need help proofreading a story? You can find me on Fiverr!