Almost every writer has received it; one page of six neatly typed lines formally rejecting years’ worth of work. Blood, sweat, and tears poured onto hundreds of pages reduced to a rejection letter.
What follows is disappointment—an emotion that writers who have tried to publish and/or their work intimately know and understand. Although disappointment is a feeling integrally connected to the process of being an artist, it shouldn’t be the determinant in whether writers continue or quit their craft.
After all, even now famous writers have experienced the disappointment of rejection. Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was rejected 121 times and “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle was rejected 26 times before it was published.
The reason we know these books, however, is because these authors persevered. The ability to pursue one’s dreams in spite of setbacks is a powerful tool with which to build a solid foundation for future success.
Success that is possible when one learns how to manage, use and overcome the inevitable disappointment experienced in the writing profession.
The following are some ways to overcome the disappointment in order to realize the opportunity.
Let It Out: The first step is to acknowledge your feelings. Admit you’re disappointed. You can’t deal until you feel.
Write about it: You are a writer, after all. You understand the catharsis of writing about emotion in order to understand and overcome it.
Don’t Rush The Process: Allow yourself to feel disappointed. Because many writers work for a long time with little to no money and/or recognition, rejection can be difficult. It is okay to feel discouraged for a while. It is not okay to wallow in it.
Take A Step Back: After allowing yourself to feel disappointed, step back and assess the situation more objectively. Look at the entire picture in order to get a new perspective.
Get Perspective:Yes, it can be defeating to be rejected, but it’s important to put the situation into perspective. One, five, even ten rejection letters doesn’t mean your work is worthless, and you should quit. Instead, it could mean that you need to refocus your goals.
Refocus Your Goals: At many points in your career, you will need to reassess your goals. Perhaps your work was rejected because you need an editor. Or maybe you to focus your brand and send to the appropriate publishing houses.
Ignore The Critics: There will always be those individuals who don’t like, nay hate, your writing. After all, literature is subjective. If you’ve done the best to make your work good then ignore the critics. They will be there even when your book is on the New York Times Bestseller’s List.
Be Kind To Yourself: Don’t believe every criticism and don’t take it personally. Just because one publisher remarks that your writing needs reworking doesn’t mean your work in its entirety is a failure. And it definitely doesn’t mean you are a failure.
Stand Up Again: In the words of H.G. Wells, “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” Today’s rejection can be turned into tomorrow’s success but only if you stand back up and persevere.
Perseverance: A writer’s career path is often crooked and bumpy but the only way that it can lead to greatness is if you stay the course, regardless of the setbacks, stumbling blocks, and, yes, the disappointments.
Hang Onto Hope: In a profession of great wins and great losses, it is important to remember F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”
The next time you hold a rejection letter in your hand, remember these steps so that you too can join successful authors who overcame their disappointment to realize their success.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.