Alex Aster is the managing editor of The Newsette, and the author of the forthcoming series Emblem Island (add it on Goodreads for free here!). As part of our “Ask Alex” series, she tackles some of our readers’ most pressing questions, in an effort to bring a new perspective to the table. Today, Alex answers a question about giving up.

Dear Alex: I work really hard at my dream. But the constant rejection and work is getting to me. Sometimes I just want to give up. It all seems pointless. How do I stay inspired?

AA: It’s like you’ve cut these words from my heart. Before getting my book deal, I felt like this pretty much every day. I’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of rejections. Mean ones. Or, worse, ones that show the sender didn’t even care enough to read your work. I wrote 5 books before I wrote the one that sold. What if I had given up after the 2nd? Or the 4th?

Every single person who has ever experienced any bit of success has gone through embarrassing, terrible failures. You’ve heard the stories about Katy Perry and Lady Gaga being dropped from multiple labels, after working years to get those record deals in the first place. Can you imagine how many people told them they would never make it? That they should just give up now? But they kept going. And, truly, the ones who keep going, who never give up, who learn from every mistake, are the ones who eventually earn their dreams.

So, how do you stay inspired? Read these stories. The biographies of the people you most admire in your field. You’ll be comforted by the fact that they experienced so many challenges before they got to where they wanted to be. Very rarely is success as easy as snapping one’s fingers, and the times it is are generally short-lived. If you want a long, sustainable career, think of these bumps in the roads as necessary building blocks to the life you want to create–the times you’ll look back on when you’re faced with a hard decision.

Also, write a paragraph about why you do what you do. Why you’re so passionate about it. Keep it somewhere close by, and read it when you get down. It’ll be the fuel you need to send that next e-mail, or dive in to that next day of work.

Good luck!

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