As a writer, you are in the business of creation.  It is your job to string together words and phrases in a manner that is engaging and valuable to your audience.

So what happens when your chosen audience ignores or rejects your work?

Are you still, then, a writer?

We’ve all experienced rejection and frustration on some level with our writing. Critics have picked our work to shreds, agents have ignored us, and publishers have sneered at our efforts. We’ve entered writing contests, submitted something fantastic, and been beaten by something terrible. Even close friends and family have at times gone out of their way to throw wet blankets on our smoldering dreams.

How do you respond to that kind of rejection?

Do you give up? Go back to the soul-sucking day job that makes you regret waking up in the morning? Do you listen to the naysayers, or do you listen to the truth that you know deep inside – that you write because you have something to say, and you can say it in a way that others like you may appreciate or enjoy?

When dealing with rejection and criticism, the real question comes to this:

Who will you allow to define you?

A publisher you’ve never met? An agent looking for a fat commission?

Will you only consider yourself successful when you’re atop the New York Times bestseller list – or will you be content with a much smaller audience?

Will you tweak and twist your style to match what’s popular and trending at the moment – or will you allow your unique style and talent to shine through as you hone your craft and actually put out some really high quality content?

I’m blown away by the sheer volume of garbage that is churned out by major publishing houses and many of the authors they employ.

A traditional publishing contract is no guarantee of quality work. Books make it into print that are riddled with ridiculous dialogue, terrible editing, and incoherent plots – and this is the industry many of us actively aspire to, hungrily begging its approval.

There’s a better way.

Don’t write according to what an agent or publisher demands – just to get them to accept you.

Don’t write exclusively for commercial gain.

Don’t rely exclusively on praise from people close to you.

Don’t stop writing because of criticism from people close to you.

Instead, write because you love to create, and you know there’s someone out there who’ll love to read it.

Write because you have stories to tell, and there are readers out there who are sick of reading mass-produced publishing house crap.

Trust your proven audience – those who offer praise and critique in equal measure because they want you to succeed, and they want to read your work.

The definition of a writer can be different for each of us – but for each of us, it should not be dictated or driven by someone else.

Write on your terms.

For your audience.

That is the definition of a writer.