Friday Speak Out!: Turn Your Writing Career from Hopeless to Hopeful

Friday, September 14, 2018
by Savannah Hendricks

Anyone who has been in the writing game for as long as I have will tell you it can be a wild rollercoaster. But, there is a way to take those hopeless times and make them better. And guess what? It involves more writing, more research, and more of you!

When I first started submitting my manuscripts I would sit around and ponder what to do next. Other than stalk my mailman of course. Yes, back when I started submitting, most were done through snail mail. I soon learned that having other manuscripts in the works is one key way to lessen the hopeless feeling. Yet, even with that, I still felt lost with my writing.

When rejections started to come in, it made my entire writing career feel utterly hopeless. It’s hard to keep writing a new story when you are collecting rejections like rocks on the shore.

For a while, I didn’t have an answer of what to do.

Then, I did.

Outside of new book length manuscripts, I started writing poetry and short stories. I did everything from children’s literature to adult horror to non-fiction pieces. I started submitting to magazines, online and in print, paying and non-paying. I needed someone to accept my writing. I needed to have hope return.

Once I started submitting the pieces the acceptances started to roll in. Wow, I could sell my work! Yes, I still got rejections, but when you have a story coming out in a month with a magazine, that rejection stings a little less.

Not only did my writing feel validated, but I was able to work on my craft. Writing for magazines is different than writing a middle grade book. Writing a non-fiction piece is different than writing a picture book. I went through edits with editors and added more tools to my wheelhouse of knowledge.

Bonus, my articles and stories were published in a rather quick turnaround time, adding to an instant acknowledgement. I had pieces to add to my bio sheet. And the best thing of all, it opened up doors that I didn’t expect….

I had been submitting to an online children’s magazine and received two acceptances. Those stories ended up in a print anthology (which was not the original plan from the publisher) and lead to an additional surprise. THAT connection helped me seek out other writing projects to submit to the non-fiction side of the publication and landed me a contract for a three book series of early childhood education activities.

I encourage you to search your stories and find something you can submit, be it a blog, a magazine, an anthology, or other publication. You might have a story you started, but didn’t really get a chance to develop. See if you can turn that into a short story and submit it. In most cases, submissions cost you nothing since you no longer need to mail them. You have NOTHING to lose, and HOPE to gain.

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Savannah is the author of Winston Versus the Snow (releasing in 2019 - Brother Mockingbird Publishing) and Nonnie and I (Xist Pub., 2014) available in English, Spanish & bilingual editions. She has been a member of the SCBWI since 2006. You can learn more, including a list of publications by visiting her blog at And you can follow her on Twitter @AuthorSavannah
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Margo Dill said...

When I first started writing, that's how it was for me too--snail mail--and I was dead set on writing books only. But I think as many of us discover, we really had no idea what the writing life was like. I have been published in all kinds of magazines, newspapers, blogs, anthologies, and standardized testing materials even! And I agree, it helps you keep your momentum going and I think ANY writing helps your craft improve too. Great post!

Savannah said...

Hi Margo, thank you so much.

Lynn Rogalsky said...

Thank you for giving me a renewed vision for my children's stories. Though I've been writing for a long time, life's circumstances often prevented me from submitting consistently. I've decided now is the time! Thanks for sharing your path, Savannah.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Savannah, what a beautiful, inspiring post! Thank you for sharing your journey to publication, and I appreciate the reminder to keep submitting. I have so many completed pieces I'm sitting on and not doing anything with, and I need to get over the fear of putting my personal work out there. And you're right, it's good to try out every form of writing. I started out writing fiction, short stories and novels, and ended up enjoying writing creative nonfiction more, which surprised me. Great post! :)

Ps. I love that picture of the bridge! Where is it?

Anonymous said...

Wonderful words to keep us all motivated. Congrats to you and thanks for sharing your experiences in such a positive way. Part of the reason you have been seeing success has to do with your positive outlook, I'm sure. That's a good lesson for us all.

Savannah said...

Thanks Lynn, I'm glad you have decided to submit, don't worry about it being consistently. Focus and it will happen.

Savannah said...

Hi Angela, thank you. I hope that you submit those pieces you have put off, you just never know. I too said I don't want to write non fiction, but it appears I do a lot of it ;)

The bridge is called Sheep's Bridge in Carefree, AZ. It's on a long forest service road that you need an off-road vehicle to get to. It was a fun adventure, minus the flat tire and having to fix it right on the path, and thankful to make it to the main road!!!

Savannah said...

Thank you so much! I'm glad you found it motivating.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this encouragement. I am so new to all of this, could I ask, what is the best way to find places to submit your work? Again, this was so encouraging to keep pushing forward and doing something I love!

Savannah said...

Hello. The best way to find places to submit your work is by looking at what you read. Books and magazines have publisher pages that you can find submission guidelines on them. You can also do a search, for example, if you write science fiction, you can search "magazines that accept science fiction submissions. Good luck!!!

Evelyn Krieger said...

Great advice, Savannah. I've done this to over many years of writing. I think of it as diversifying or "keeping the balls in the air." I would add submitting to writing contests, too, as a way of polishing your work, setting short-term goals, and meeting deadlines. While most entries won't win, sometimes one will, and that validation (prize, too), feels great.

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