Soooo…dealing with rejection. What’s a girl to say?
Well, here’s an interesting fact for us word nerds. The dictionary tells us rejection is a noun. “The dismissing…of a proposal.” It is not described as a feeling, for example in the way anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry”, or fear “an unpleasant emotion.”
Rejection is a thing. We are not meant to feel it. Our very own word bible says so.
Dealing With Rejection – Ouch!
OK, OK. I know that doesn’t necessarily make it easier. Rejection can be a dark and soul destroying place. I know. I’m submitting my first novel to agents and publishers at the moment, and whilst I fully understand that rejection is par for the course, it can knock you around like a pinball.
Of course, we’re in good company. Stephen King wallpapered his writing room with his (here’s one of them). Even J K Rowling talks publicly about her tens of rejections (ouch – look at these!) So I know I’m not going to swan in there and make the author of the awesome Harry Potter look a bit shoddy. There will be rejection. Fact.
That being so, I want to share my thoughts on dealing with rejection. Because it’s not easy. It can feel lonely. It can chip away at your dreams until you wished you’d never dared to have any. Until your usually buoyant smile becomes a grizzle.
But I don’t want you giving yourself sulk wrinkles, writer friend. You’re not alone in dealing with rejection, so let’s break this down together.
How we Should View Rejection
Here is what my logical brain thinks about dealing with rejection. (More of this, please!)
- That opportunity was not right for you. Who wants the wrong opportunity? No one! So let it go, Elsa. Let it go.
- That agent/publisher was not crazy about your work. Therefore they are not the one for you. Full. Stop.
- This rejection makes way for the right opportunity to come your way. The magic is waiting.
- Every no is one step closer to that yes. That yes will happen.
- You are waiting for your soulmate – the perfect match. Like love, you may not find it straight away. But when you do, you’ll be glad you didn’t shack up with the one who didn’t really want you.
- The rejection has no bearing on your writing skills, your book, or how others will view it. The next person may love it. You want that person.
- Or maybe the world has totally different plans…
- So keep on trucking!
Here Comes the Cringe…
Here are some of the things my very weird, deeply offended/mortally wounded brain thinks, on immediate receipt of rejection. (Too much? Just me? I would love to know if you can relate. And bear with me – I know these are ILLOGICAL and wildly cringey.)
- An initial surge of outrage – you don’t love my book? How dare you not love my book! You are not coming to my party. No jelly and ice cream for you.
- Followed promptly by a wave of dread. One human does not like my book. No human will ever like my book! I must give up this writing immediately. Where is my suit? I’m going back to my old job. That one that paid me.
- Next comes a strange feeling in my heart. It kind of hurts. What is this, heartbreak? I take deep breaths, to avoid imminent heart attack. Shake myself down. Repeat random mantras about my writing being awesome. Picture that whole ‘big mistake’ shopping scene from Pretty Woman, when Julia Roberts gets the last laugh as she blossoms into the badass butterfly.
- Immediately followed in my head by The Apprentice theme tune, and images of some fired loser in the back of a London cab. They’re bleating about how Lord Sugar will regret the day he ever said no, because their tremendous cat biscuit business is set to make millions (urgh, no it’s not…)
- Followed by sad, sad, sad… I feel so sad. I will go around feeling sad forever, carrying this big old sack of sadness…waaaah
- And then before I know it – hooray – positivity is back! I am once again wonderful, shrouded in a glorious glow of light which cannot be penetrated by bad news. I am Batfink. You cannot harm me with my wings of steel…
Suffice to say, rejection sets off a roller coaster of emotions, many of which are pretty odd. But if we didn’t feel stuff, we would never be able to write about how feeling stuff feels. So it’s surely win-win?
Now, on with the show. Here are my best tips to help you stay on top of this rejection malarkey. You must stay strong for the fight, writer friend. The road may be long. And when your destiny comes, you want to be full of fire and ready to dance in those flames.
My Tips for You
Mantras or Affirmations
OK, I joked about these above. But really, it’s a godsend to have a few on hand, ready to repeat on a loop, to block out those self-sabotaging thoughts. Something positive, something powerful, something which works for you. If you’re stuck, it essentially just needs to be the opposite of the negative thoughts which pop up.
So if your unwelcome internal gremlin says, “no agent will ever want me”, perhaps change it to “I will find my perfect agent”.
Don’t forget to say these words with passion, like you mean it. Say the to yourself in the mirror, if you want extra points. But make sure you give them the energy they deserve.
A Fight Song
If you’re more of a song kind of person, then pick yourself a fight song to break the cycle of negative thoughts. My personal favourite is Fighter, by Christina Aguilera. Although I change it to “thanks for making me a writer”. Yep, cheesy.
I’ve also been known to sing Don’t Stop Believin’ in the shower. Not cool, people. Not cool.
Get Back in the Game
So you got one rejection? Then send out one more query. Get back in the game and keep the odds in your favour.
And maybe have a long game in mind. A B game plan, if your A game doesn’t take off. Will you redraft your work? Try a different pitch? Find someone to give you feedback on your submission? Look at self-publishing options?
Don’t fear the alternatives. Plan for them. Know that whatever answers come your way, you are still in control of your career. You do not have to sit around waiting for other people to decide whether you are good enough.
We choose how we view life’s happenings. We actually get to choose.
We can decide to see this as a rejection, or as an opportunity for another door to open.
I firmly believe that the universe has our backs. It can sometimes be hard to accept this when the knocks are happening, but if we don’t get the thing we asked for, it’s because another thing is meant for us. A more suitable thing. A bigger, more exciting challenge.
So Don’t Stop Believin’. Or something less cheesy.
If all else fails, write!
Allow yourself a few lines of melodramatic drivel about your misery, if you like. Actually it kind of helps! And then get on with your work in progress.
For me there is no better place to lose myself than within the imaginary world which I have created. When I’m busy plotting someone else’s downfall, I soon forget about my own! So write. Or read. Get out of your own head and into someone else’s. It’s much juicier.
Do not bottle this up. Do not let it eat you. You are in charge of this beast.
Make sure you get things off your chest. Talk to friends, family, other writers. Join a community and find people who understand.
If you read or write chick lit/rom com/lady books, you are always welcome in my Facebook group Chick Lit and Prosecco. It is full of wonderful, supportive readers and writers who understand your pain. Just when I think I am about to fall these ladies (and a gent or two) always catch me. They rock. Find them here.
Don’t Lose Sight
Above all, do not give up.
You are an athlete. You are a sprinter. Keep your eyes on the prize. Keep visualising your books on those shelves, your words on those Kindles, your stories in people’s hearts. Make a vision board if you have to. But don’t lose sight.
The knocks will happen, but they won’t break you. They will build you, shape you, make you ready for battle. They will make the Prosecco fizz of victory taste even more glorious.
Because if you can take rejection and come back fighting, you will be a writer, my friend.
I Would Love to Know…
Have you faced rejection as a writer, or general lovely human? Do you have any thoughts on how to deal with it? (Send them over. With wine!)
Please do scroll on down and pop your comments in the box.
And as always, thank you so much for reading. You’re my pineapple in a world of apples.
Writer, Blogger, Author of Funny Love Stories