I tried to analyse where I feel the most negative effect during the writing and publishing process, and realised that it’s always around feedback. When I send something out, I’m desperate for that person to read it as soon as possible and get back to me. But when they do eventually get back to me, I tend to find myself wishing that they’d left it for just another day. As hard as I try to read the whole message and see the good in the response, I will inevitably focus on the “areas for improvement.” Paradoxically, the few times I have received messages of unfettered praise, I’ve viewed them suspiciously, as though the person couldn’t be a very good judge of the book if they couldn’t find any problems with it.
To counteract this tendency, I introduce you to the Achievement Points system. Using this, I will earn points for each book as follows:
- 1 point each time I receive feedback on a partial submission (be that a rejection or a request for a full MS) from an agent or editor
- 1 point each time I receive feedback on a full manuscript from someone outside of publishing (family, friends, colleagues)
- 3 points each time I receive feedback on a full submission from an agent or editor
Here’s where I am with my current book:
- 6 rejections on a partial from agents = 6 points
- 6 people who’ve read and fed back on the full manuscript (three writers, my wife and two daughters) = 6 points
- Total = 12 points
I’m sure you can see how this system could be extended. Perhaps I should be awarding myself Achievement Points every time I finish a draft of a book, or take it to a critique meeting? For people earlier in the process, the targets could be gentler – finishing a chapter perhaps, or attending a writing workshop. Published writers could give themselves points for every school event or Amazon review (no matter how many stars it has).
Do please chime in with your ideas on this and similar systems you might already be using. Can we turn the stigma of rejection around to enable us to see just how far we’ve already come in our writing journey? That would be an achievement in itself.