I’ve noticed a lot of discouraged writers of late. Is it something in the season? The air? The  non-existent water levels in the moon’s Sea of Tranquility? Maybe it’s a symptom of a craft that calls for constant effort. I’m not immune, though if there’s a vaccine that works against discouragement infections, I’m in (take note, mad scientists), as long as I don’t have to give up those moments of thrilling encouragement.

One writer, in particular, is a fellow whose blog and writing I’ve been following for a few years. J. S. Pailly’s work at Planet Pailly is fascinating: his fiction, his informative science posts, his wicked illustrations, and especially his dedication.  I learn so much, and with so much wonder, that it feels like a clever magic system. But it’s not. It’s actual science *gasp*. Thing is, James has been discouraged of late, and he’s writing about it. He recently posted this stunning graphic which details a journey which all of us find ourselves on at some point. Clicking on these oddly colored lines will take you right there to behold its wonder for yourself.

If James can discouraged, with his amazing blog, loyal band of merry followers, and mind full of wonder, what chance do the rest of us stand??

I’ve started collecting things. Encouraging things. Things I can stuff away in a file and pull them back out when I need them. It isn’t a big file, not yet, but it has begun. James’ illustration is in there, and so are these:

Another writer I admire (enough to take a course from), Richard Thomas, posted this quick, thoughtful note on facebook 2018-03-09 18.17.22.png

It’s good to get a solid dose of perspective now and then.

I have a small review I received once upon a time which delighted me and first inspired my anti-discouragement file. This review showed up in a black time and has gone a long way to helping me pick myself up after I crash hard.


When I read it, I remember “Making a reader feel this way is why I do this. This is mine to keep. I earned it. Now I just have to keep going” … even when I feel like Sisyphus pushing a big story rock up Mount Publication.

Keep track of the good stuff so it’s there when you need it. We all get discouraged, even our heroes. Remember that. Keep writing.

How do you combat discouragement? Are you a mad scientist looking to create a discouragement inoculation and need some volunteers? Comment below and maybe we can help another writer out.

7 thoughts on “the anti-discouragement files

  1. Wow, thank you for this! I felt like I was taking a bit of a gamble with that post, but I decided to risk it because I thought I couldn’t be the only writer who feels that way sometimes. It’s good to get a little validation that I am not alone in this.
    Also, what you said about my writing—that I make science seem like some kind of clever magic system—is the most gratifying compliment anyone has ever given me. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I certainly understand why this can be a dark time for many creative people, it’s something I struggle with in the dark and cold months.

    I love the idea of a anti-discouragement file, I’m totally going to adapt it for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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