7 Ways You Give Away Your Power – and How to Avoid It

GivingI was talking with a wise colleague about the ways people commonly give away their power — in work, in relationships, and life in general. When we give away our power, we lose out on the things we want and need in life. It occurred to me that writers seeking publication are vulnerable to specific ways of giving away their power if they’re not careful. Here are seven ways I came up with, and some ideas for avoiding them:


1. Thinking any single outside entity can make or break your career.

It’s truer now than ever before — writers have a multitude of options for getting their work in front of readers. No single agent or publisher or writing teacher need have a disproportionate influence on your writing career. Don’t give any one entity too much power.

2. Being intimidated by “the industry” or anyone in  it.

You may feel like people out there (agents, publishers) have a lot of power and let’s be honest, some of them wield it rather arrogantly. But most of us don’t think of it as power at all. We’re just looking for the right authors and books for our needs. Just because it feels like the industry has the power, it doesn’t mean you have to hand over yours. Realize we’re all in this together and we have the same goals. Refuse to be intimidated.

3. Blindly following “expert” advice.

There is a LOT of advice out there, but not all of it is great. Always think carefully about it, run it through your own common sense filters and get multiple opinions when it makes sense. You keep your power by insisting on thinking everything through yourself.

4. Neglecting to work hard at the basics.

Everyone, no matter their career or chosen field, must do the hard work of becoming good at what they do. That’s where a great deal of your power lies — in your ability to study, learn, research, practice, whatever it takes to become the best. Don’t give up this key element of control over your future.

5. Giving up your own passion in favor of someone else’s ideas.

In any business, you’re going to be sensitive to what sells, what the market wants. As a writer, you’re looking at what readers want. But be careful to balance it out with your own ideas. You always want to be looking for the sweet spot where your own passion meets the market. This is true in any career, not just writing.

6. Constantly comparing yourself to others.

Comparison sucks the life out of your soul. Can I be any more graphic? Really, it’s a dream stealer and a motivation killer. And it gives away your power to be who you are, to value your own unique journey. Don’t give in to comparison.

7. Holding on to negative feelings.

Some writers have felt  humiliated or devastated at the rejection of their writing. Some are resentful or angry at the establishment or the system that is so difficult to crack. I don’t think I need to tell you that holding on to these negatives can be one of the biggest ways to give away your power. You’re allowing yourself to be held hostage by the past, and you’re keeping barriers erected in front of yourself. Do whatever you need to do to let go of the negatives.

Have you given away your power in any of these ways? In any other ways? How did it affect you, and what did you do to change it?



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Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. An august collection of links | Becky Black on August 4, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    […] 7 Ways you give away your power and how to avoid it Rachelle Gardner on ways writers give away their power and lose out on what they want.  It occurred to me that writers seeking publication are vulnerable to specific ways of giving away their power if they’re not careful. Here are seven ways I came up with, and some ideas for avoiding them: […]

  2. Christine Kyle Moore on July 28, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Thanks for the great post. Gives me a lot to think about.

  3. […] 7 Ways You Give Away Your Power – And How To Avoid It by Rachelle Gardner […]

  4. Magpie Monday | Robert E. Stutts on July 9, 2012 at 5:35 AM

    […] 7 Ways You Give Away Your Power—and How to Avoid It, Rachelle Gardner talks about how “writers seeking publication are vulnerable to specific […]

  5. Industry News-July 8 » RWA-WF on July 8, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    […] Lebak’s post ties in with agent Rachelle Gardner’s recent piece about the ways writers give away power. […]

  6. […] Klems lists the 8 essential elements of a nonfiction book proposal; agent Rachelle Gardner shares 7 ways you give away your power—and how to avoid it; and QueryShark warns against bogging down your query with too many […]

  7. Stay true to yourself… | M.H. Lee on July 4, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    […] trolling of the Internet, I ran across a post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner titled “7 Ways You Give Away Your Power  – And How to Avoid It.”  It’s a good read and any writer seeking publication should take a look.  (And […]

  8. K.J. Warner on July 4, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    1-7 are essential components to the process of writing. Where would we all be if that certain college professor didn’t rewrite one of our short stories and present it to the entire class as a lesson in revising? I’m not admitting it happened to me or anything, however as long as we don’t lose ourselves through the journey we eventually replace our power. We also gain newfound knowledge of ourselves and bonus material to write about.

    Bottom line: Keep honing your skills as a writer and don’t give up!

  9. Brenda Maxfield on July 3, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    I especially liked #2. It’s easy to get caught up “them” and “us.” But you’re right, we’re all in this together with the same goals.


  10. Gwen Stewart on July 3, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    I’m most guilty of #2 and #7–not anger with number 7, but discouragement. **sigh**. The one I struggle least with is comparison. Everyone has a different, God-given voice, and that shines through in singing as well as writing. So I don’t find it sensible or productive to compare my writing to other writers…I’d just like my writing to be the very best I can produce.

    This is a great post, Rachelle. Thanks!

  11. Cecelia Dowdy on July 3, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I’m especially guilty of #7. I need to let those negative feelings go.

  12. Eleni Papanou on July 3, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Kudos to all your points. No. 2 was a tough one for me. I almost gave up writing because of a vicious comment regarding my work. I decided that one example was a taste of the whole industry. My father-in-law sent me the following Jack Welch quote that made me go back to writing:

    “Control your own destiny or someone else will.”

    I had an epiphany after reading it. I realized the comment wouldn’t have bothered me if a part of me didn’t agree with the criticism on some level. I decided to hone in on all my weaknesses as a writer, and I found a confidence I never had before.

  13. Daphne Shadows on July 2, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    The first three seem to be a large problem because first time authors don’t know what to expect or what is within their right to ask. There’s loads of info on what to put in a query. Not so much on what to do when meeting with agents, publishers, editors, etc.
    I think the hardest one for me is #7. The first time I let someone critique my old ms, he turned out to be a real jerk and gave his opinion and not facts or reasons why the writing didn’t work. But its so hard to get rid of that one negative feedback memory.

  14. Kathleen wright on July 2, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    I did that, painfully, for many of the early years of writing. Especially after/during a writing conference. Now, when I hear”should”, “must -have writing book/ conference/teacher”, I think, “I could.” and hold a conference with my partner, the Holy Spirit.

  15. Jennifer Major on July 2, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Sometimes I feel like Nancy Needy, and sometimes I feel like I could smite Darth Vader. That’s where peers come in and save the day. Many times I’ve given up and sent out embossed invitations to gala pity parties and then a few who know exactly what to say…say it.
    Some say the delicate words “suck it up buttercup” and a few remind me that I AM good and I AM worthy and… I AM is in charge.

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 9:39 PM

      And you CAN smite Darth Vader (and the Emperor too, if you put your mind to it). You are, after all, a redhead. We redheads can do anything we put our minds to — if we’d only just remember that.

      Seriously, you ARE good and you ARE worthy and don’t let anyone get you to doubt it.

      • Jennifer Major on July 2, 2012 at 9:52 PM

        Thank you Christine! You’re a doll!

        Chipman?? Seriously, we drove by Chipman yesterday!

        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 3, 2012 at 12:38 AM

          You’re welcome! 🙂

          Yes, she went there with a friend to enjoy the celebrations. I think Chipman is about a half hour away from her house. Her address is Salmon River, but I have not found that at all helpful when I’ve tried to find her on Google Earth.

  16. Kristin Laughtin on July 2, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Avoiding #7 is such a key thing to avoid. I recently was talking to my beta reader for the first draft of the last book I wrote, and even though I knew that book was really messy and needed a lot of help, some of the critiques dealt quite a blow. But if I wallowed in the feelings of dejection, unworthiness, and humiliation, I’d never even have the chance to improve. It would seal my fate as an imperfect writer right there. I’m lucky in that it’s making me want to go revise and improve the story right now, even though I’m so close to finishing the first draft of a different book and should probably take a pass at revising it first. But that drive may only apply to this book, and the negativity might get harder to bear as time goes by and I write other things and face other rejections. Learning to let go early on may be the most useful thing I can do.

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 6:24 PM

      “Learning to let go early on may be the most useful thing I can do.” Kristin, I think that’s a wise philosophy. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I think your attitude is spot on.

  17. Patt Hollinger Pickett, Ph.D. on July 2, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    My “favorite” way to give away power is to feel justified in hanging on to negative feelings and ruminating (#7). When I shake loose, I realize that this bad habit feeds the negativity makes it stronger. Likewise, if I try to ignore or deny the bad feeling—it grows stronger still. My success comes when I respect the legitimacy of the emotion and admit that focusing on it will not take me to my goal—whatever it may be. Then I am free to redirect my emotion and action to achieve my objectives.

  18. […] Gardner (@RachelleGardner) writes about 7 Ways You Give Away Your Power–and How to Avoid It. While this piece is focused on the world of writing, her points can be generalized to life in […]

  19. Reba on July 2, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    Whoa, Rachelle, thanks for the post.
    I learned something from each one of those.

  20. Else on July 2, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Excellent advice.

  21. Stephen H. King on July 2, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Wonderfully written, and timely as usual, Rachelle. I’ll just briefly expand your third point, if I may, to include blindly following the commonly-held industry beliefs. The winners in most industries are the ones who buck the industry concepts of “you can do this, you can’t do that” and go for what they believe is the right thing to do.

    That’s why this morning I finally executed a move on my own blog that I’ve been considering for some time. It’s moving against an industry truism, “don’t change topics,” but I think it’s the right thing to do, and already I’m being rewarded by my reader base.

  22. Barb Rees on July 2, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Very wise words Rachelle and all of you who replied. Carol Brill’s comment that comparison is the thief of joy really hit home with me. Every time I compare myself to other travel writers who are bigger, better, more well traveled, I lose my joy and pride in what I do. Stay focused on what makes me happy,do my best and keep learning from others which is different than comparing myself; all make me a better writer. Thanks everyone.

  23. Dale S. Rogers on July 2, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    This is great advice. It’s so easy to fall into one of these traps when we
    feel desperate concerning our writing or any area of life. Thanks for the reminder.

  24. Sylvia Smith on July 2, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Thank you for ministering to us today! God bless, and continuing to pray for you and yours in these times.

  25. Elizabeth Varadan on July 2, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Great points, all. Thanks for such important reminders.

  26. Audrey Bennett on July 2, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Positive and uplifting advice for a Monday. It’s exciting that we have the e-pub option available to us today…but I suspect that’s what makes us skip #4.

  27. Ena on July 2, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Excellent study on relevant and inspiring life principles. I reposted and made a copy to hang on my reminder wall. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Robin Patchen on July 2, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Great post and so true. I think number 6 is my biggest obstacle. I have many wonderful friends who are published authors, and sometimes it’s easy to compare my journey to theirs. The cool thing about our God is that He has a specialized, personalized journey for each one of us, so comparison is a waste of time. I don’t want to live their lives, I want the one God created just for me.

    Number 7’s always a challenge, too. Rejection sucks the life out of me. It sucks the joy out of my day. It sucks hope and optimism right from my heart. In a word, rejection sucks. Learning to accept it and move on–now that’s a powerful thing.

    You, your husband, and your city are still in my prayers.

  29. Donna Pyle on July 2, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    What an interesting conversation to have with a colleague – love it! Number 5 on your list is so very crucial. Recently, a writer in my local writers’ group admitted she was writing YA Fantasy because the market for that showed exponential growth. She believed she’d have a better shot at getting published. However, she didn’t like writing YA Fantasy — and it showed. Nearly 100% of the people there advised her to write what she knows. To write her passion, because from there the good stuff bubbles.

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      Exactly what I was saying to Cherry, Donna! You have to have a passion for your art. If you sell out on that, it will show. Besides, if you don’t enjoy it, what’s the point?

  30. Cynthia Washburn on July 2, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I speculate that writers (and other artists) are more sensitive than the general population and this is what enables them to reach readers but the same trait means we feel rejection more acutely.

  31. Meghan Carver on July 2, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    It’s a vicious cycle. For example, comparing ourselves to others leads to negative feelings. To fix it? Focus on our own work and don’t spend too much time online.

    Thanks for the post. I’m putting it in a folder I read when I need encouragement.

  32. Cherry Odelberg on July 2, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Giving up your passion in favor of someone else’s ideas.

    Is this the same as needing the affirmation or confirmation of a few important people before you move forward? Of course, these people have never shared the same tastes or way of doing things as you, so you will have to contort and adapt to get their confirmation.

    Or, is this merely a reaction of desperation? Kin to settling? Where you say, “well, I am never going to make it to first place (my passion); so I will settle for second (succeeding with someone else’s idea).

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      It seems that there has to be some compromise between the agent and writer, editor and writer, publisher and writer, and I think that’s a good thing as long as it is done within reason. However, I am not going to start writing about vampires (for example) just because they sell. I have to write from what is inside of me, my passions, my concerns, my interests. If, in the end, there is no market for it, then there is no market for it. One great thing about selling a product: market trends change.

      • Jennifer Major on July 2, 2012 at 9:59 PM

        Alien Amish Vampires from the future who only speak the DaVinci Code?

  33. Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    I constantly struggle with one and two and have been guilty of six and seven at times. All of it, I think, can suck the life out of your soul. Last week, I had an experience where I allowed a couple of people to intimidate me enough that I questioned whether I had any talent or skill at all and I thought about giving up writing. Thankfully, God woke me up to the fact that I was giving these people too much power and that I was focusing on the negative. I had received a good deal of positive feedback from several people about the very piece of writing these two people had ripped to pieces. Neither of these people is a writing professional. Both are writers who have yet to be published, so we are peers. As a Harry Potter fan, an analogy came to me and I tweeted it: I need to come up with a real life Patronus charm, a shield to protect myself from those real life dementors who would like to suck all the joy out of me and who, if I allow them to, will rob me of my soul. These two women are a part of my critique group. Part of me feared returning to it and making myself vulnerable again by sharing, but God gave me the grace and the courage to go back this past Friday. I was able to interact with one of the women in a genuinely cordial way. (The other woman didn’t come). I shared a piece of writing, got feedback and had an overall positive experience. I am thankful to God for giving me the grace not to allow these women to chase me out of the group or to give up writing.

    Thank you for another insightful post, Rachelle. I hope that this week will be a better one for you and your family.

    • Cherry Odelberg on July 2, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      Christine, so glad to hear you were victorious.

      Writing is, I believe, a bit like meddling with black magic, you do not come away untouched. When I descend into the realm of pathos as a writer must do; when I feel for my character, I brush up against reality and emotion so deep that it makes me ever more vulnerable and sensitive to feelings (such as rejection) in my real world.

      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 5:57 PM

        Thank you, Cherry. 🙂

        I agree that writing heightens sensitivity and vulnerability. Also, we pour so much of ourselves into our writing, that when it is criticized or rejected, we feel criticized and rejected as well. People will say, “Don’t take it personally,” but it’s kind of hard not to.

    • Jennifer Major on July 2, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      I’m glad you went back, and I’m glad you went away feeling better!! You’re a tough cookie!! Stick to your guns and remember, you didn’t write for them alone, so don’t let them be the final judges of your work.

      • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 6:01 PM

        Thank you, Jennifer. You are part of the reason I was able to go back. You helped me A LOT last week when I talked about the experience. This past Friday, when I went back, I brought invisible hockey sticks with me, just in case. And although they didn’t know it, they were on probation (and actually still are). One more session like the one where I was bludgeoned and I will take your advice and shake the dust from my feet as I walk away. Thank you for your encouragement, support and prayers. 😀

        • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 6:05 PM

          By the way, I have to clarify my pronoun reference. I’m sure everyone understands in context what I meant, but the English teacher in me has to clarify (I don’t understand why I don’t see these things until I’ve hit submit, even though I think I’ve proofread).

          Anyway, “they” refers to the members of the group, not the hockey sticks.

        • Jennifer Major on July 2, 2012 at 6:25 PM

          Anytime!! I’m glad to be of service.

          But remember, no illegal headshots and definitly no cross checking from behind. A good, leagl and clean check into the boards and they won’t mess with your prose again!!
          Imagine it though, you’re sitting in a quiet circle…tea in one hand and someone says the one thing that sets you off. You rush her ribs, toss her in the air and yell “I’m checking the dust off my feet! That’s from #18’s mother!”

          Makes sense to me.

          • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 6:36 PM

            Makes sense to me to, except–no cross checking from behind? Aw, gee, Jennifer! You killed my game plan. I do like the tossing her in the air part, though. Yes, I can adapt my plan to that. 🙂

            By the way, hope you had a great celebration yesterday! My sister went to Chipman for the festivities. She had a great time, despite the heat.

  34. Holly Russell on July 2, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Great post to remind me to keep a level head on my shoulders throughout this process.

  35. Patti Mallett on July 2, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    What a Powerful!!! post, Rachelle. Thanks!!! I’m going to do something with it so that these wise words are always within easy reach (and read often)!!

  36. Joe Pote on July 2, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    “You always want to be looking for the sweet spot where your own passion meets the market.”

    I love how you put this, Rachelle!

    Lately, I have been focusing more on my blog than on writing or marketing. Even in blogging, though, it is sometimes tricky finding the right balance between “popular” posts and “passionate” posts.

    They’re not always the same thing…and both are needed to some degree…

    • P. J. Casselman on July 2, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      Hear, hear! I can relate to the passionate and popular. The funny part is– I can’t tell you why for the same reason I am always careful not to “go there” on my blog or Facebook. Don’t you love living in tension between what is and what should be?

      • Joe Pote on July 2, 2012 at 12:19 PM

        P.J., I think that’s one of the things I most look forward to about Heaven.

        I don’t know how it will work, but I fully expect to be able to communicate clearly without misunderstanding or concern of being misunderstood.

  37. Elizabeth Kitchens on July 2, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Great post, Rachelle. Thanks!

  38. Amanda Stephan on July 2, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Numbers 4,5,& 6 are my most difficult, and I’m sure 7 is on the way…

    Thanks for the post, Rachelle. It’s nice to know I can have my own thoughts about things. It’s nice to know I don’t *have* to be like so-and-so.

    You have no idea how much you’ve helped today! 🙂

  39. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on July 2, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Might be worth adding “Dilution of Effort”.

    I’ve sometimes tried to do too many things, both in the main course of my life, and within my writing world. I would have gotten farther, faster had I pared down that list.

    This is not to encourage monomania – the most interesting writers do seem to have full lives! But I would strongly suggest looking for balance that opens the door to ‘extracurriculars’ while still achieving what you want in your writing life.

    Easy to say, hard to do.

  40. Brian Henwood on July 2, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Gosh this is good. So true. Yet I find myself, even now, unable to break myself out of these habits.

    It’s a vicious cycle really. I try to work very hard at the basics, but don’t really know if what I am doing is “right.” Maybe I’m developing bad habits. Is my voice coming through? Am I making the same mistakes over and over? Am I showing, not telling? Half of the time I’m not even sure what these tips mean.

    So I compare my work to others, but their voice is different from mine, so I feel less confident that what I’m doing is even called writing. I send out some queries – rejection. Okay, don’t let that phase you, it isn’t easy for anyone.

    I try reading a few blogs for pointers. I get a lot of help here, and on other sites. Nathan Bransford has a good one too, and Query Shark. But as much as I learn here, it is still so intimidating. You people seem to have it all together while I am just trying to figure out if I am ready for a next step, and if so, what would it be.

    Sigh, guess I’ll go back to the basics and start the cycle over again.

  41. Shauna on July 2, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    “Comparison sucks the life out of your soul” –in writing and in all of life. A perfect, graphic description.

    I recently read Phillip Yancey’s Soul Survivor and found this passage extremely helpful in my battle against comparison.

    “…each of us has nothing else to offer than a living point of view that differentiates us from every other person on the planet…we are called to be stewards of our singular view point and stewards of the strange power of words through which we express it.” (p. 261)

    • Cherry Odelberg on July 2, 2012 at 12:25 PM

      I am constantly reminding myself of the line from Desiderata (actually borrowed from an ancient sage), “If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

  42. marion on July 2, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    I can’t believe you did a blog post today, Rachelle. After an exhausting week/weekend. And it makes sense!–and is useful.

    I’m intimidated by you, Rachelle! OK, I’m being a bit flip. But agents are a bit scary. And your knowledge of the industry and so many people in the industry is intimidating–and an invaluable resource for your lucky clients.

    Also intimidating: Your ability to keep on trucking with your blog, day after day, week after week, and keep it fresh and informative.

  43. […] read a great blog today by Rachelle Gardner – 7 Ways to Give Away Your Power – and How to Avoid It. The way I read it, Rachelle – an agent and blogger extraordinaire, is issuing a reminder […]

  44. CG Blake on July 2, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    This is great advice for writers struggling to get published. I believe what it comes down to is having self-respect, confidence in your ability, a solid work ethic, and a desire for constant self-improvement. You always give such helpful advice. Thank you.

  45. Susan Bourgeois on July 2, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    No, I haven’t given away any of my power.

    I have followed the list you’ve displayed.

    I strongly believe in item number four.

    I know the importance of research. For me, it’s a way to put together the pieces of the puzzle needed to write the best story I am capable of creating.

    I have numerous books on writing from the top writers and agents in the industry. I have also studied the query and proposal process.

    I don’t allow myself or any outside force to damper my spirits as it pertains to my goals as a writer.

    Simply put: You can’t wing this stuff.

  46. Sandie Bricker on July 2, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    This post really spoke to me. At times, I’ve been very guilty of looking around me at what sells and thinking about trying to step into it rather than packing my own writing voice and taking it on the road with me. As always … a thoughtful and provocative post that cuts straight to the heart of the matter.

  47. Lauri Meyers on July 2, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    What a powerful post Rachelle! I’m going to file this in my “read every time I start feeling chicken” list.

  48. Catherine Johnson on July 2, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Great list, Rachelle! Take care.

  49. Richard Mabry on July 2, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I’ve been guilty of all of them at one time or another, and still have to be careful not to let those soul-sucking characteristics become a part of who I am. But, as already pointed out in various ways, the antidote often lies in realizing who I am, for whom I write, and what I really want my writing to accomplish. It helps.

  50. Trudy Metzger on July 2, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Being a newbie, I admit to struggling against several ‘power stealers’ in particular–#2 & #6, with #6 being the biggest. I’m still in the process of working through them and overcoming them. Very much appreciate your blog!

    (And we continue to think of you and others who are communities suffering from weather-related and various tragedies. Praying for your husband and other workers’ safety, and for divine intervention.)

  51. Julia Denton on July 2, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    It helps me if I direct some of my writing energy into channels where I know it is more likely to be appreciated. Usually this means writing letters or notes (via regular old-fashioned postal mail) to friends who are elderly, struggling with chronic or life-threatening illness, or otherwise in need of encouragement. This always reminds me of the big picture, and minimizes useless, self-centered rumination.

  52. Sue Harrison on July 2, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Rachelle, this list is so important and I’ve never heard or read anyone address most of these points before. You have an outline for a great book here.

    Strange as it may sound, the time I really embraced point #2 was at the ACFW Conference last year. It was all my fault, no one else to blame. My mother’s health was very poor and I was very concerned that I should have stayed home close to her, but mostly I felt disoriented. The Christian publishing world is so very different from what I was used to, even the helpfulness and joy had me asking, “This is a business?” (Yes, and thank God for that!) I’d never seen anything like it. I was scared to death about the editor interviews – this from a girl who’d faced down the president (at my agent’s advice) of Doubleday in a meeting and survived.

    I’m continually amazed at how well I can undermine my self-confidence. Then God eases me back into His arms and I rebuild, brick by brick!

    • P. J. Casselman on July 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      That’s amazing, Sue. From my vantage point, I presumed you’d have a ton of confidence. You’re a best selling author with awards to match your sales, so of course you’d not feel intimidated. Thanks for sharing your vulnerability and reminding me of proper perspective.

      • Sue Harrison on July 2, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        I’m glad that helps. I think we all have a battle with perspective and confidence. When I’m feeling particularly inept, God always has a way of showing me His love.

    • Cherry Odelberg on July 2, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      Sue, revelations like yours are so helpful. There are times I beat myself up with fictions like, “If you were an established writer, you would feel confident; If you really had something to say, you wouldn’t be so nervous.” True, it is somewhat discouraging to know that these feelings never go away. Then again, we must face that fact that “in this world we will have trouble” 🙂

      • Sue Harrison on July 2, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        We never outgo our need to hang onto God’s hand!!

  53. Sarah Thomas on July 2, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    All of these are SO true. Comparision. Aack.

    As Christian writers, I think we can add one more to the list. It’s easy to get tangled up and lose power trying to perceive God’s will. We alternate between expecting instant success because God is with us and fearing failure because maybe we’ve stepped outside of God’s plans.

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 6:31 PM

      So prayer is key–prayer for God’s guidance and for an openness to God’s will. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that God’s timing isn’t ours. God may indeed have in mind our writing and publishing a book, but that doesn’t automatically translate into instant success. Faith, trust, patience and perseverance are often a part of the journeys God sends us on, at least that has been my experience.

  54. jeff on July 2, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    This is all pretty deep, and it rings true. I’m guilty of most of the cautions here.

    But I will hold onto my negatives a little longer, they are a source of evil power…muahahaha! Kidding.

  55. Raewyn Hewitt on July 2, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    It’s taken a long time for me to be able to bring my work to the market and risk the rejection that comes with it. But I think I’ve only been able to do that because I love what I do, and my worth as a writer doesn’t hang on someone elses approval.

    I think it is important to find people you trust and can work with, but not to expect everyone will have the same vision.

    If I’m working hard and learning the craft, whatever the result, I feel I’m earning my writing stripes.

    I particularly liked your comment:

    “You always want to be looking for the sweet spot where your own passion meets the market.”

    I’m writing what I love, so I’m praying I’ll hit that sweet spot one day soon.

    A great – and very encouraging post. Thanks!

  56. Rosemary Gemmell on July 2, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    Excellent list of reminders, thank you. I have to remind myself of 6 – it’s not a constant problem but one that can sap my self-confidence if I let it!

  57. Murees Dupé on July 2, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    I am guilty of all of the factors that you have named above. I should really work on this. Thank you so much for this great post. It has made my day.

  58. Marielena on July 2, 2012 at 5:55 AM

    Love, love, love. Thanks, Rochelle!

  59. Becky Doughty on July 2, 2012 at 4:33 AM


    Welcome back – Ditto what Lanny said: you and your family and neighbors continue to be in our prayers.

    This is a great post – thank you for sharing. I think 1 is the “easiest” one for me to fall into – it really is a pride thing, isn’t it? I want any weakness in my life to be someone else’s fault… especially when it comes to this industry.

    Good reminder to keep my head on straight, and like Beth said, focus on the things that EMPOWER us, not the things that steal our power.


  60. P. J. Casselman on July 2, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    I enjoyed reading this post. There are a few of these that rose off the screen to squirt lemon juice in my paper cuts. Taking life as a whole, I’m guilty of all of these, but who has the time, right?
    More recently, I’d say I’ve been guilty of two and seven. These are a nasty tag team.
    Conquering these is still an uphill struggle, so I can’t give a lot of advice. Towards number two, I just keep contacting people and try to remember that they are humans too. It helps to read their blogs and find out what a train wreck some of their lives are. Yeah, I know, that sounds mean, but it humanizes a person to see their flaws. They put that information on their blogs for just that reason.
    Towards dealing with negativity, I look at a picture I have on the wall. It is from “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. In it, Pilgrim runs into all sorts of obstacles, but he will reach the Celestial City if he just stays on the path. When I get a rejection and the negativity begins to consume, the picture reminds me that I’m on a path not a cliff. No one can drive me off the literary path, but I can jump off if I so choose. The fact that I have the choice is reason enough to continue the journey. Also, the obstacles are there, but if they can’t kill me, so they’ll only make me stronger. One can’t hold negativity towards something or someone who makes us better. Well we can, but that would be stupid. I isn’t stupid, I think.

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      You soytenly isn’t, PJ. I loved the lemon juice / paper cut metaphor. Great image for a Monday.

    • Jennifer Major on July 2, 2012 at 7:49 PM

      “No one can drive me off the literary path, but I can jump off if I so choose.”

      Well said PJ, and so true!!!

      It’s nice to know that there are people who’ll pull us away from the edge with encouragement and wise words. And an occasional kick in the pro-noun.

  61. Lanny on July 2, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    First of all, we just hope and pray that all is well with you and yours. Blessings to you, Rachelle.

    Second, this is indeed an excellent post, and one I had to be reminded of. I am 63, and it’s totally amazing how fast life goes by. Use whatever power we can muster to get our opinions to the world, regardless of how large or small that universe may be.

  62. Persephone Jones on July 2, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    Wow. Great post. All authors–heck, all people might want to consider posting this somewhere like their wall or mirror to remind us that good or bad, thoughts have immense power and the most important ingredient of success may be our attitude. 🙂

  63. Martha Ramirez on July 2, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    LOVED this! Thank you, Rachelle.

  64. Beth K. Vogt on July 2, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    When I look at # 5, 6 & 7, it all boils down to focus. What am I focusing on? Am I focusing on someone else’s dream, instead of my own dream? Am I focusing on someone else’s accomplishments, instead of my own? Am I focusing on all the “should ofs” and “could ofs” and tallying the stars I’ve accumulated from reviewers, or am I embracing what has gone right — and ensuring that I do what it takes so that more of the right stuff happens in the future?
    A lack of focus, or an improper focus, steals my power. Drains me. Shoves me off course.
    How do I change it? There’s a saying that goes like this: If you want to be wise, you’ve got to walk with wise people. (Rough paraphrase.)
    I’m blessed to have some very wise traveling companions along the writing road. I’m gonna stick by them for the long haul. 🙂

    • Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on July 2, 2012 at 9:29 PM


      You’re pretty wise yourself. “Embracing what has gone right” rather than focusing on what has gone wrong isn’t easy to do (at least I find I constantly have to remind myself to do it) but it is wisdom.

  65. Gabrielle Meyer on July 2, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    I would have to say the comparison game is the biggest power stealer of mine, but God is reminding me that just as everyone has a unique fingerprint so everyone has unique gifts, talents and personalities. I strive to embrace who God created me to be and celebrate all the other amazing creations around me! When we stop comparing ourselves to others we can learn from their gifts and abilities and have the confidence to teach them something we’re good at. God gave each of us a unique piece of the puzzle so that we can all work together to make a whole.

    • Meadow Rue Merrill on July 2, 2012 at 6:46 AM

      I agree. But the number one way I struggle with keeping my power as a writer also has to do with my faith: the constant need to put the needs of others before my own. For example, my family’s needs vs. my time to write. This one is REALLY hard to balance. I’ve tried all the tricks, working early, working late, hiring a sitter when I can. And, still feel frustrated by the lack of quality writing time.

      • carol brill on July 2, 2012 at 7:34 AM

        Comparison sucks the life out of your soul.- love how this gets to the point.
        Another way of saying it that resonates with me
        Comparison is the thief of joy

    • Jennifer Major on July 2, 2012 at 7:46 PM

      Well said Gabrielle. Comparing oneself to anyone else is SO tempting, but it never provides any benefit does it?

      Unless the other person is a redhead and her wisdom slays you on a daily basis and you want to be like her in every way. But that would be dumb. Cuz she drinks too much Diet Coke.

  66. Jaimie on July 2, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    I struggle the most with 6 and 7. It’s tied into me valuing number 4 — wanting to work on my craft. I feel like negative feelings and comparing myself to others are integral to improving my craft, but that’s probably less true than I believe it to be. You can definitely go overboard. And I do.

  67. Joanne Bischof on July 2, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Such great points, Rachelle. This really spoke to me and I know of so many writer friends who would be encouraged. Thank you!