November 10, 2019- Surviving Rejection
While there are many professions and endeavors that include the possibility of rejection, the fact remains that for writers, rejection is a fact of existence. It is the overwhelmingly reality of our early careers, and while it may drop in frequency as we build on some successes as a writer, it is still always there. It may come in the form of rejection slips when submitting manuscripts to agents or publishers. It may be not getting selected to participate as a guest author at a book festival or conference. It may be when the local bookstore does not invite you to be part of a book signing event. It can even be during a book signing when a reader picks up your book, chats with you about it, then puts it down and walks away. Some forms of rejection may be even more subtle. When your beta readers or critique partners do not seem to like your writing.
Figuring out how to survive those rejections can be the deciding factor in continuing to persevere toward your writing goals, or in throwing in the towel and walking away.
I remember reading a piece written my Anthony Robbins on dealing with rejection and failure. He talked about remembering the 3-Ps.
1) It is not PERSONAL.
As a writer, it is hard to not take criticism of our writing personal, but the fact remains that it is not about us. It is about our writing. And if we can get past that, it will allow us to use the rejection as a form of feedback that can help us grow as a writer. Every rejection is different, and all provide us with information. If we can figure out what the rejection is telling us about our writing, we can use it to grow. Even those “form rejection letters” tell us that our query or sample piece was not exciting and different enough to warrant an individual rejection. That is good to know.
2) It is not PERMANENT.
The rejection is for this one piece of writing, at this specific time, in this specific condition. Or for this particular speaking engagement or book signing. It is not a permanent label or condition. If we can look beyond the hurt feelings, examine the reason for the rejection, and chose to grow from it, chances are we have increased our chance of success the next time around.
3) It is not PERVAISIVE.
Most rejections have a narrow focus. A rejection of a specific manuscript, or an individual bookstore book signing. It is important to remember that it is not an all-encompassing rejection. Keeping it in perspective by focusing on other projects can be a great antidote to lessening the sting of a rejection. Remembering the successes you have had can also help to balance out the feeling of failure that is inevitable with rejection. Not allowing the rejection to infiltrate the other areas of your writing and your life is critical.
Rejection and success are like the two sides of a coin. You can’t have one without the other. Life as a writer ebbs and flows. There will be times when rejections pile up. There will also be times when successes accumulate. Keeping both in perspective is key. That is why my file folder packed with rejection slips is right next to my file folder filled with fan mail! Those letters from 9 and 10 year olds who have read and loved my books enough to write to me, help me to survive the rejections that continue to come.