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An In-Depth Look Into The Writer's Emotions

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:05 pm
by OldManRivers
One of the things that has surprised me, even mystified me, since becoming a member of the Faithwriter's Community has been my own emotional reaction to those weeks when I have not placed in the Writing Challenge. My feelings of overwhelming disappointment and frustration have often been devastating. And that is not healthy ...

Blaming the system is NOT a healthy or rational response to these feelings. There is NO ONE to blame for not being selected by our servant judges. And any system you try to create to be "fair" doesn't exist in the realm of art and literature. The writers life is FILLED with disappointment and frustration. It just is!

And our counsel to give it all to God and to write for God's glory is spiritually true and wise, but this hasn't really dealt with the emotions involved. No there is something deeper.

I am praying that this thread will be continued by other Challengeers who struggle with these emotional responses - disappointment, frustration and discouragement. I suppose I am not so much looking for "solutions" but more for those "stories" of what goes on within our hearts and minds when we don't place.

I am asking for a look within our own hearts and not a look within the system. Loved ones,

Please no easy answers.

Is there anybody else who struggles with disappointment and frustration when you "don't place"?

Love ya,

jim mcwhinnie

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:36 pm
by nilknarf
Thanks for bringing this up
I definitely struggle with disappointment when I don't place.

The struggle is strongest on weeks when I really thought I "hit the mark" for the topic, or wrote well. I think "Oh, c'mon! You're kidding! How could I miss THIS week? That story was great... etc."

I feel guilty about these thoughts. I feel even guilitier when I go to the announcement pages and click on the winning entries and say, to myself, "oh, c'mon! THAT won?!!" or "how could they rank THAT story above mine?"... or, even worse, to my way of thinking... "well, at least I scored better than HER..."

I joined FW not only to have fun and share my writing, but, as with all things I do, to give glory to God and to use the talents He gave me. But, my human emotions are very quick to rise within my mind and shame me with their pettiness.

Over the years, I know FW has helped me develop, as a writer. I am also grateful for the friends - both virtual and human friends - it has gained me to discuss the stories posted, here.

I truly wish I didn't have so many self-centered reactions, to the rankings. But, I do. I can spout the party line with everyone else: "it doesn't matter if I place; as long as my story touches someone's heart." Well... I wish that were true. It does matter. But, I still wish it didn't matter, quite so much.

Donna Emery

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:07 pm
by Shann
I definitely feel disappointment. I have vowed to give up and not write anymore. All of my life I've been very hard on myself. When my favorite piece I've ever written didn't even get a nod from the judges, I was crushed. I called myself all kinds of names and cried for a while. Then I went back and read the comments people left. I was surprised at how many hearts I had touched. Now I've decided I'm going to keep working on that story, make it as perfect as possible and eventually submit it to be a coffee table book. It may never get published, but it will always be special to me and to the many people who were touched by it as well.

Now to confess to something embarrassing. Even last week when I won 2nd place in my level, I was disappointed. When the top 40 came out, I wasn't there. I know if it had been submitted in level 1 it may not have even made the top 15. It only took 2nd place because there were so few entries in level 2. I should be overjoyed that I placed 2nd, and I am to a point, but part of me feels guilty like I really didn't deserve it.

This week my entry was rushed and I didn't expect much and wasn't bothered at all. Go figure.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:05 pm
by CreativeWords
I've discovered that my initial success is making the current non-placement harder than I expected. I find myself doubting my ability to write, to follow an assignment, or even to string two words together coherently.

On the other hand, I have also felt a strong tug recently to get serious about my writing. If I truly believe this is a dream God has given me, then it's time I did something about it. In that, I feel at peace in my spirit when I write. I feel that I am doing what I am meant to do. That has helped me push past the disappointment faster than anything else. I can see what I did, and what others did, make (at least mostly) impartial assessments of what worked for them vs. me and try harder next time because I have no choice but to try again. It is the thing that drives me.

Now, if only the ratings would reflect the drive, I would save myself many a very downcast, hurtful moment.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:28 pm
by Sarah Elisabeth
To be completly honest, I battle low self esteem in almost every aspect of life. For some reason, I react the opposite of most. Not placing feels "normal" and where I should be. Believe it or not, I still lack confidence that my writing is very good, in spite of responses I've received.

My two EC's at the beginning of the year rocked me, I was so surprised. While my disapointments over not placing usually aren't severe, I don't think anyone could match my level of excitement when I do place well :D So maybe low self esteem is a blessing in disguise???

And if I had to choose between the two, I would take lots of lovely gold boxes over placing any day...y'all are so sweet and I take your "red ink" to heart each week.

On another note: Whatever your level, I believe we all have the potential within us to be in the top ten before the end of this year. "Learn the lessons the challenge teaches you, apply the "red ink", get a mentor, look ahead, write from your heart"... (okay, I'll stop talking to myself now)

Keep in mind, judging is never perfect and always comes down to a few individuals opinion. I learned this lesson well during my days in 4-H (that's when I got my crying out...literally). I know the judges do their best and I almost dread being a FW judge some day, because I know others will not agree with my placings and eek! I may actually be totally wrong :shock:

I hope I don't sound like I've got it all together here, that's just where I am right now. And I'm hoping to build some thicker skin for the time to come when I start approaching agents, publishers, readers....

and Rachel, I have been surprised your entries haven't been ranking at the goes judging. Weird.

I pray that God will show each of us our value. Dance for Him.


Deep subject

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:57 pm
by ginadaye
Glad you brought this subject up, Jim. I think our disappointment, frustration, etc. is only human. I, too, rush to see if I've made it . . . only to find that I have not. But, look at it this way - we still have something to strive toward!! Everyone ahead of me voiced my feelings, so I won't repeat.

I've just been so thrilled to have found FW, and really wish I had more time to spend on all the aspects of the site, but the fact of the matter is I don't right now. However, I look at the challenge as a way to hone my skills. Some weeks my entry is a rushed one. I thought I wrote my best story to date last week (Shhh) only to read it now that it's out there and find a typo! Darn I hate when that happens! I am a perfectionist and I beat myself up when things like that happen.

I don't know what the judges are looking for (is that on here somewhere), but I trust that this is where God wants me to be right now and I just keep plugging along. God led me to FW and I plan to go to the Conference and hopefully meet many of you wonderful fellow writers. I also plan to enter the Page Turner Contest because I'm writing a book and need the motivation (along with the physical stamina) to keep going. And maybe that's the win that God has in store for me!

I know I can write. I'm not good at writing humor; I'm a serious, personal essay type writer. I've had several pieces accepted for publication (and actually been paid for them :D ). That first one will always be the thrill of my life. . . a dream come true. However, my favorite piece (and one I hope to get on the reprint section soon) appeared in Living With Loss magazine last year and relates to the death of my mother. So many people told me how much that story helped them - validated their feelings, or gave them hope in their own relationship. THAT is what's important to me. The knowledge that I've written something that inspired, motivated or gave someone hope is, to me, priceless. I haven't done that yet with these "expression" themes, but I'm developing skills, meeting deadlines, and learning to deal with rejection. . . all part of a true writer's world.

Hang in there, every one of you! You cannot give up. That would disappoint God. He gave you a talent and "to whom much is given, much is expected." In God's eyes we are all winners and in His time we will each be rewarded with success.

Blessings to you all!


Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:13 pm
by Shann
Thank you Gina for sharing your thoughts. It's nice to know there are so many who understand what it is like to want acceptance.

FW was an answered prayer for me. The first online writing group I found was basically a bunch of bitter people with a few that were understanding.

The next group I found was very receptive and caring. They helped wash the bitterness from the first group. I had been critiqued harshly and unfairly in the first board and it really came close to making me give up. The second group was supportive but not quite what I was looking for, but they gave me the courage to keep looking.

Then finally I found home-Faithwriters. You all are like family to me. I can never thank you enough for being here while I was searching for a place to call home.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:29 pm
by mljoshua
Ok, don't get me wrong, I can't wait to open up the challenge on Thursday morning - If I'm not 1/2/3 or honorable mention, then I can't wait until later in the day to see if I made top 15 or landed in the top 40.

I don't even scroll looking for my name, I control-f and key in my last name to see if I'm in the list at all.

But, that being said... until last summer, I had never written anything except research papers for school. It kinda surprised me while completing my BBA that I could put out an acceptable 10-12 page research paper in about 4 hours. but last summer, I wrote my first nonfiction manuscript. It's easier to write what really happens in life than it is to make something up- at least it seemed that way to me.

Then I found FaithWriters...and the Challenge. I thought - "what a hoot -' write 750 words on a topic?" So I signed up (this was when it was still no charge) - got the first challenge topic and it was "Blue" - All I could say was "Blue? What the heck kinda topic is that?" It took me most of the weekend to come up with an idea, but 30 minutes to write it. I submitted. I liked it, I still like it. On through Black, yellow, orange and whatever the other colors were... with you guys reminding me to watch my tenses. I kept making the same mistakes... The ones that I thought rocked the competition didn't place... Then I located the rankings. Imagine my surprise when I found several of them in the top 15. WOOHOO! I was elated! Then I got out of the beginners level to intermediate, then out of intermediate into advanced...

All the while, I thought I couldn't write fiction, but most of my stories are fiction. I can write fiction. Who knew?

One that I wrote that was nonfiction I knew wouldn't place, but it was about my grandson and I just wanted to write it (Baba Was My Name - Oh Challenge) but mostly they're just coming to me.

My wife asks me "where do you come up with this stuff?" My only answer is "I don't know."

I get the topic, think about it over a day or two then start with one line and the story just comes.

I am so happy that I can do it at all, that once I find out how I did, I just move on.

Until today - My first EC put me over the top!

But back to reality, I have a drawer full of rejection letters on my nonfiction manuscript, the first one made me upset - the first postcard that came addressed "Dear Author" made me upset. Now I just scratch an agent off my list and move on. maybe this is why, maybe I'm not as competitive? I do the challenge because I'm new at it and the exercise is a great experience for me, it makes me think outside the box.

My manuscript is still under review by a great agent and i pray that she'll decide to take a chance on me. In the meantime, I have a suspense novel in the works, I have 6 grandkids, I work fulltime as a Controller and General Manager with 26 direct reports, and I am in an MBA program.

I write for a release, emotional and spiritual.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful FW family, and happy to support it with my little 10 bucks a month to get the feedback and occasional kudos - we all struggle, I think I just have less time to worry about it.

My disappointment is short-lived... I have to start thinking about the next one.... But I do get disappointed.

Thanks to all of you that take the time to read and comment on my stuff. I don't get to read many of them each week, but I do try to work my way through at least one level. Sometimes I don't have anything to add, I feel like I am so 'green' at this, but sometimes you guys really knock my socks off!

thanks for letting me become part of the group!!

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:39 pm
by choosingjoy

I so relate to this. I blame part of it on the world's push to succeed, excel, win, make it to the top, etc. When I learned that my worth to God has very little to do with this, it helped me tremendously. :angel2

Still, like all of you have expressed, there is something in me that gets waaaay too intent on placing in the Challenge. I've found, as a "senior citizen" how competitive that I am, and how disappointed :seeingstars

when I don't place, particularly with something on which I spent lots of time and which I thought was, well...good! :D

All that said, though, it's so much fun to brainstorm and carry it through to a completed piece that I wouldn't trade it for the world. And I love trying to write about things God has taught me through the years and hope they might give a little lift to someone else. I also love reading through others' experiences and imaginations.

So we'll hang in there together, curb our egos and nurse our insecurities, and write,write,write!

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:00 pm
by OldManRivers
One of the joys of the Challenges is the Gold Boxes - both the encouragement and the tips. Yet, I find that the gold boxes sometimes set me up for an even deeper disappointment when the judging results are announced. An article seems to be received with such glowing terms and then it doesn't even place. But then, I go back and find some solace when I re-read the gold boxes.

I believe, that at least with me, my devastation is wrapped up in my need to be seen as competent in my work. And that is where I probably need to do some work -- realistic expectations and not over-investing in the results of the judging process. (I have judged and believe our judges do the very best they can considering time restrictions. I do believe that if we took the same entries and ran them through many different teams of judges, the results would be quite varied.)

I do not believe it is the competitive thing for me. I sense that it is expecting too much from the results to be a measure of my competence.

I sense that souls like me can learn "professional toughness" through the challenges but that our greatest gain would be in a committed Critique and Support Circle of writers.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:58 pm
by Kimberly-Russell
I guess I can’t get out of responding to this one: just gotta happen J

I’ve taken a break from the Challenge after moving up the levels quickly. More important is the reason for my break: I needed to reflect and evaluate why I was entering the Challenge in the first place.

At first, I entered to improve my skills—and I did. I could see positive changes and learned to write regularly. It gave me a huge amount of confidence and helped me realize that yes, I do have something to offer.

Then I started to get the “competitive bug” that turned to disappointment when I didn’t do well. This brought up all my insecurities and I started to question my abilities. I also was giving in to fear: if I entered and didn't place, I would be hurt again. Safer to not enter at all.

In the meanwhile, life started happening, as it often does and I just didn’t have the time, energy, or brain cells to write. Writing is hard work and it takes a lot of effort to be creative. Sure, there are times when it comes natural and just flows but for me, that is the exception not the norm.

Taking a step back and reflecting has been a really good thing. I’ve come to realize that writing is my goal—not winning.

The last entry I did (for “Ooops”) was writing that came from my very soul. It was a true story and a huge step in my personal recovery from emotional issues. While I was disappointed that it didn’t make the top 40, the gold boxes were so encouraging, it dawned on me that my focus was in the wrong place: My personal writing creed is to touch people for God by using the talents He’s given me. And this story has done that.

I’ve moved ahead with revisions and will soon begin querying for publication. Will there be rejection? Without a doubt. Emotional roller coaster? For sure. The next step of the journey? Absolutely. Worth the risk? You bet.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:48 pm
by aussiegal
I agree with everyone else...I don't know why I feel so disappointed when I don't place.
I have entered the weekly challenge 6 times and one week I placed as honorable mention in my level and was in the top 40 3 times and the 8th in my level (Advanced) another week. I actually had to go back to all my entries and write it down, because I have been ready to give up on the weeks my name did not show up. Especially when I particularly liked what I wrote.
I had to think about why I am doing this.
If one person reads what I write and is helped, encouraged or brought closer to God, that should be's either a stroke to my ego, or for the glory of God.
It always encourages me when I see how many times my entry is read. I must remember Who gave me my gift in the first place.
That being said, I live for the day I snag 1st place!!

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:53 pm
by pheeweed
I think I'm the worst emotional mess of all. I stopped entering for a long while because every week I had a temper tantrum in the middle of my pity party. I'm not usually emotional and I don't like my reaction to the challenge, so I had to withdraw.

Just reading all your entries to this thread has started my emotional turmoil again. I know that God gave me the ability to write and that He wants me to use it for His glory. But the challenge does something to me that obliterates that knowledge. Just thinking about it turns me into a big baby.

The problem is, I like my writing. I like writing it and I like reading it. So I expect to do well, because I enjoyed it. But I've only placed in the top 40 once. I probably don't belong in my level (advanced) but by the criteria for choosing a level, that's where I fit.

So I rarely participate anymore, and when I do, I pray a lot. Not that I will do my best work, or that I will bless someone (although I should), but that I won't fall apart when the standings are published.


Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:03 am
by Greghory
First off, let me say that I don't honestly think that this is best place for this discussion to be posted. There have been similar threads over at Writing Challenge - General Discussion and I think it would have been better to post there. Otherwise I fear that you run the risk of cluttering up this section. People come here primarily to see how they did. That said,
OldManRivers wrote:Yet, I find that the gold boxes sometimes set me up for an even deeper disappointment when the judging results are announced. An article seems to be received with such glowing terms and then it doesn't even place.
This is absolutely the case. Look at the ECs as they are announced and you'll find some that have only two or three comments. Gold boxes are a great encouragement but they have little correlation with overall ranking. But at least when you don't place you can console yourself with the positive affirmations.

And yes the Challenge is tough. Mainly because there are some incredibly talented writers out there. I keep thinking that I'm getting better by the day but the problem is that so is everyone else!


Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:01 am
by violin4jesus
I struggled with quite a bit of disappointment through most of last year; I had made Masters by the end of the year before, but didn't get another EC until the "Red" topic.

At the same time, I placed regularly in the top 40, so clearly I was in the appropriate level. Yet the disappointment was acute, week after week, when the winner's circle posted. I don't know if being so close is better or worse, but placing 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, over and over is pretty lame, when you really want only that 10th spot - just the 10th would be great!

Now I have no time or ideas to enter - so busy that I have no material whatsoever to draw from. Or no energy to write it if I do. As writers I think we go through different stages of focus and drive. I am not driven to write very much at this point. If I was, you bet I'd be competitive. It's kind of my nature. :roll:

But when I do write, and I share with others (especially non-FW'ers), they are mostly encouraging. So I know I have a gift to share.

Don't give up if you don't place. You also have a gift to share. :wink: