What TV Got Wrong: Being a Writer (New Girl Edition)

Okay, New Girl is one of my absolute favorite shows. I love the characters. I love the antics. It makes me happy. And as the series progresses, we learn that one of the major characters is a writer (and writes an absolutely terrible first book, that includes a word search).

But there is one particular episode in season 6 that drives me absolutely insane (potential spoilers if you haven’t seen it): the episode all about Nick’s Pepperwood Chronicles novel. Specifically when he gets his first rejection from a publisher and his friends push him into selling it himself.

You see, in episodes leading up to this one, it’s slowly being established that Nick is a writer working on a book. And I have issues with some of those moments as well, such as when every. Single. Person. On the show. Tells Nick his book is perfect with absolutely no corrections or issues (hint: no book is ever perfect, even after publication). But for now, I’m going to focus in on this one episode.

So anyway, back to this episode. Here are the things New Girl got wrong about being a writer, as well as a reality check.

Myth: If you get a rejection, your career is over.

Nick submitted his Pepperwood Chronicles book to a publisher, and they rejected it. He was so embarrassed he wouldn’t tell anyone, and he decided it meant his career is over.

Here’s the hard truth: if you want to be traditionally published, whether you submit to an agent or directly to publishers, you will have rejections. So many rejections. And you know what? None of them mean your career is over.

Think about this: J.K. Rowling got over 100 rejections for Harry Potter, and that series is one of the best selling series of all time.

A rejection doesn’t end your career. And it doesn’t mean your book is bad.

Myth: As soon as you finish the book, you’re ready to submit it. Or publish it.

Okay, so truth be told, I do not really know what Nick did after finishing the novel. But as I said before, everyone told him it was perfect.

Your book is never ready to be published as a first draft. Even if you draft fast or clean, you need beta readers to make sure you don’t have loose ends, offensive material/misrepresentations, or major plot errors, and preferably a series of developmental editing, copyediting and line editing, and proofreading. Then you can move on. Even indies should follow these steps, even if they don’t hire people for them and just find good readers to help (many indies just don’t have that kind of money starting out, and I’m learning that’s not as big a deal as I once thought).

And if you’re going traditional? You still need beta readers and several more rounds of revision to polish it so it is as close to publication ready as possible. No agent or publisher will take a first draft, and it makes you look unprofessional.

Truth is, you’re going to have several drafts of your book as you tweak it and make it either publication ready or ready to submit. Never ever ever a first draft.

Myth: You should make your own books to sell. And you can do it in a day.

This one is weird, but in the episode, Nick’s girlfriend gets him a book reading at a bookstore. For his unpublished book. The night she finds out about the rejection.

Problem is that he’s unpublished so has no book to sell.

No problem for New Girl’s title character, Jess. She just whips up a bunch of books for him to sell (honking beasts, by the way…note: page count is important!).

NO. You are not going to make your own books as an indie. You upload your work to a print-on-demand site, they print when they have an order, and it takes a few days to be available. Also, you’re going to want to order yourself a proof copy to make sure you didn’t screw it up. And if you have the money, you’ll probably be hiring someone to design a professional cover that’s not literal bits of paper cut and glued to a brown cardboard cover.

Myth: As an unpublished, unknown author, a book reading will solve your problems.

If no one knows you exist, you’ll be lucky to get a few butts in chairs at a reading, unless it’s a collaboration with a better-known other author. In the episode, Nick packs his reading (even though it isn’t a ton of chairs). And it’s viewed as the solution to his problem, the jump start his career needs.

A reading (or a book tour) is unlikely to sell you many books, and it’s a gamble that even traditional publishers rarely take anymore.

Concluding Thoughts

Bottom line is that TV gets a lot of things wrong (most people know this already), so don’t be discouraged if you see TV writers hitting it big while you’re still struggling to break in or be read. Or even to write.

Writing is a complicated thing that is mostly different for each person, but stick to it! And keep your eye out for more misrepresentations in media. 🙂

For now, though, do you have any pet peeves in TV or misrepresentations of what you do that drive you crazy? Share with me below!

When the Judges Say No: Dealing with Creative Rejection

This year was the final year for Rooglewood Press’s fairy tale retelling contests. For the second time out of four contests, I submitted a story. This year, there was a Facebook party to announce the honorable mentions, perfect scores, finalists, and, of course, winners.

So I logged on Saturday night and waited with all the other wonderful, kind, creative people I met through this contest. Together, we shared in the anxiety and excitement as names were called. I was thrilled and given a ray of hope when this image popped up:


My story was selected as a finalist! But excitement and hope gave way to disappointment yet again. While my story was a finalist, just like the last time I entered, it ultimately wasn’t chosen for the collection.

Let me tell you something. Being rejected sucks. And when it’s a creative work, it is so easy for the rejection to feel personal. Our work is close to us, sometimes so close that it feels like a part of us. So what do we do when our work is rejected?

  1. First and foremost, feel your feelings. Rejection hurts. Let yourself be sad. Let yourself be disappointed. Eat that cake. Break that plate. Then move forward. One of my favorite Disney movies, simply for its message, is Meet the Robinsons: “Keep moving forward.”
  2. Remind yourself that your work isn’t you. A rejection of a work is not a reflection of you as a person. Remind yourself that it isn’t personal.
  3. Understand that a rejection of your work has no reflection on your writing. Typically, if an agent, publisher, or contest judge rejects your work (or simply doesn’t select it for publication or as a winner), it more than likely reflects the needs of the person, not your skill and ability as a writer. You may have written something absolutely wonderful, groundbreaking, and amazing, but if it doesn’t fit with the idea of the collection you submitted to or the types of stories the agent is looking for, then it is going to be rejected. It just means you need to keep looking for that story’s home. You haven’t found it yet.
  4. Think about what you can do to improve your work. Even if you don’t plan on doing anything with the failed piece (which, by the way, didn’t really fail), think about ways you could work on improving it. You could hire an editor or find a critique partner. You could go through it again on your own. Take any critiques of your work seriously. Evaluate them and choose what comments you want to use and what comments are contrary to your vision for your story. But don’t be afraid to look at it with a critical eye… just don’t be too hard on yourself. Take the steps to make it the best it can be.
  5. Don’t let it keep you down. You can take your work and submit it elsewhere. you could publish it on your own. Or you could abandon it altogether and move onto a new project. But regardless, don’t let one rejection shut you down forever. Rejection is such a huge part of this industry. It never gets easier, but you learn how to cope with it and try despite it.

Rejection is a normal part of writing. It will happen to everyone. That said, it really does suck. And that’s okay. You’re allowed to feel that pain. What you can’t do is let it get to you.

Never give up.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have plans to make and stories to write.