You will hear everywhere that you have to be tough to be a writer, and I've talked many times about how that's not quite true. I am not a tough person. I still cry at rejections and I can't handle reading negative reviews. Not because I'm a wuss, but because I'm a human being with feelings and junk.
But I have found that there's something you have to stay strong on—you have to keep saying YES to yourself.
It's really easy to stop doing that when the whole industry seems to be saying no all the time. Before you know it, your mind starts rejecting ideas before you can even make them into stories and then books.
I've seen this happen to me over the years. I get an idea, I start to kinda like it, and then instead of holding on to that excitement/love/passion I begin to ask questions like:
Well, is it marketable?
Is it hooky? Is it like other things out there?
Is it on trend or not trendy enough? Should I make it more on trend?
Usually I will then start rejecting myself. No, it's not marketable enough. It probably won't sell because it's not "high concept." People say they want "new and different" but really they just want "the same thing but with a tiny twist," so this idea is too weird.
The story, in my head, is bound to fail before I even start developing the plot sometimes! It's so sad, but I don't think it's uncommon. It's a side effect of being told NO so much—we just forget that we can still say YES regardless of all the rejection we've faced up to that point.
It's like that relationship advice: Don't bring your past relationship's problems to your current relationship.
Books work a lot like that. It's super easy to take past baggage into the next project, but really there should be a reset button. Every book is a fresh start. Every story has unknown potential. You can't base a project's possible success or failure on your past works, and yet we seem to do this constantly. You can't keep saying no to yourself and expect to get a positive result. You have to say YES. You have to believe in yourself even though it feels impossible or even down right silly at times.
I'm mostly saying all this to remind myself, because for a long while I've been telling myself my books won't sell because of this or that. I've been telling myself I probably won't ever sell a novel again in the US just because it hasn't happened for three years. I think perhaps as a defense mechanism so I won't be disappointed and so I don't try to control something I can't.
But there's a fine line between being realistic and being a downer in publishing. I think I've been more on the downer side than I thought. And maybe believing in myself won't change how things go for me, but I think it will change my attitude about my career and publishing if I stop being so negative and let myself believe in the things I used to hope for.
I'm trying to say YES to my imagination and creativity more. I think it's helping me be less afraid, to be stronger in a way, to be happier. I'll deal with the rejections when they come, but I've decided my mind needs to be a place where "YES, you can do/write/dream that" is the default reply.