Develop a Thick Skin

by Megan DiMaria

Do you remember how you felt the first time you confessed to someone that you wanted to be or was a writer? Did you heart pound and your palms sweat? Mine did.

Becoming a published author almost seemed too lofty a goal for little old me to aspire to. What would people think? Would they laugh at me? Scorn me? Ask me why I thought I could ever be successful?

When you made your proclamation saying you were an aspiring novelist did the words tumble out in a torrent of excitement or did you choke them out, fearful that one day you would be forced to eat them, a bitter morsel?

Chances are, after a while your friends and family get onboard with your plans and even inquired about your progress or encouraged your efforts. And that’s a good thing. Because after you’ve overcome that initial fear of telling others you want to be published, you actually have to put your work out there for critique and for submission, and then you really need to toughen up and not let the barbs of critiques or the arrows of rejection take you down—at least not if you want to be successful.

Take heart. Be brave. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Find a quote or a verse of scripture that will speak encouragement to you. I know some writers who have inspirational quotes tacked up in their writing area or committed to heart. Bible Gateway or Quote Garden are good places to find words of emotional sustenance. This verse kept me writing and writing.

When you first expose your writing for someone to look over, be brave and be humble. Just because you arranged words together on a line, doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the next big literary prize—not even if your mother/spouse/best friend/child says so.

Putting your work out there for critique requires you to be humble enough to take suggestions and comments. One thing I’ve discovered is that you can’t defend your work. When I hear someone who submitted work for critique begin to defend or explain their work, then I know they’re still pretty green. They don’t want anyone to change a word or tweak a sentence. But the truth is, when your work is finally published, you won’t be able to sit alongside your reader and explain every scene. If your first readers don’t understand what you’re trying to say, then rewrite it.

Sometimes it’s hard to receive a critique, but it doesn’t kill you. You’ll be okay, the sun will still shine, and you’ll still be loved and respected by those who care for you. Literary agent Rachelle Gardner wrote down her thoughts about being thick skinned on her blog. Take a look, be encouraged.

It’s difficult to hear negative words about the story you labored over. If you’re frustrated, that’s okay. Take a walk, call a friend, and write more words. Just keep moving forward. But don’t be too discouraged, there are always (or there should be) good points raised during a critique.

Becoming published won’t happen if you don’t work at it. Remember, some people dream of success, while others actually do the work to accomplish success. So write on!

*Article used with permission from


Megan DiMaria has been a freelance writer for 20 years and is the author of two women’s fiction novels, Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands, both of which are set in the Denver area. She is a member of several writers’ groups and enjoys encouraging other writers in their pursuits. Visit Megan online at

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