How Amy Poehler Sent Me to the Gym

Taru Anniina Liikanen
8 min readJun 28, 2019

My lesson on failing, obsessing and detachment with writing — and bad boyfriends.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

I’ve been struggling with writing lately. No matter how much I’ve tried to shut it out of my mind, the rejection got to me. After a few initial, small successes with a couple of stories here on Medium, my writing, in general, has not been featured and therefore has received hardly any claps or attention. I’ve tried writing about different things, thinking that maybe it just has to do with the subjects, but the truth is it’s probably because I have a lot to learn about writing and doing it in this platform in particular.

Outside of Medium, the novels I spent a bigger part of last year writing have so far attracted no attention from agents or publishers, and my actual 9 to 5 job has been steadily rolling downhill as well. It’s an election year here in Argentina, the stakes are extremely high, people are on edge, and the general atmosphere working at a government agency is getting more tense by the day.

As the rejections started piling up, I at first tried to reject my negative feelings. We’ve all read these stories about how you just need to do more, write more, want it more, and at some point, you will get to where you want to be. Just by doing more you will get there, your writing will be better and someone will eventually want to read your books and blog posts. I thought so, too, and in those first weeks of Medium-induced euphoria, I even wrote a story about not caring about any of those failures, just sticking to it and writing for myself until I’m good enough.

But at the same time, I’m not yet a professional writer. I’m still at the level where I take my small failures and rejections personally, thinking I will never get to where I want to be. I started trying to pick my brain about what it was that was making my writing not good enough. I tweaked my queries until I had no idea what the book was about anymore. I tried to write better for the Medium editors, and in the end always failed. I tried writing just for myself, with the same result. And then, after months of furious writing and nervous querying, I got frustrated and let it get to me. It all started going downhill from there.

I started many stories and abandoned them halfway, thinking they weren’t “worth it” because let’s…

Taru Anniina Liikanen

Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Recovering political ghostwriter and comedian. Bad jokes my own.