Recently, I applied for a highly sought after writer's retreat and week long workshop with a very popular author. It sounded like a dream and all of the feedback from workshops in the past sounded like writing heaven on Earth. You'd get to hang out in beautiful landscape, talking and working through critiques with an author that I admire and gaining some writer friends in the process. Less than a dozen people were chosen for the program, thousands applied. I was rejected. *Cue sad trombone sound*
Once upon a time, I made it my goal to collect at least 10 rejection letters a month. My theory was: the more places I submit to, the more places I will be rejected by, but also, the more places I would be published by. In those short months, I collected a large stack of form and personal rejection letters. I also collected the most publication titles that I have ever had.
I was working in sales at the time and I knew how to work ratios. In sales, they call it your open to close ratio. If you close 1 deal for every 50 people you meet and pitch to, then you should try to meet and pitch to 200 people in a month in order to make 4 sales. It's a numbers game.
Yet, for our creative souls, it doesn't take away the sting of rejection. If you get rejected in sales, you say "Thank you!" and either ask them to introduce you to someone else or turn to the next person. Writing is an art. It's my art. It's my little creation of a baby that I put out into the world. When I get rejected, I feel like someone is simultaneously slapping me and calling my baby ugly. So, it's natural to get a little beat down about that.
Here are my steps for dealing with rejection and, most importantly, getting back into the swing of writing:
Be Nice to Yourself: Meditate, get a massage, take a hot bath, get your beverage of choice, read your favorite book, call your best friend and vent. Write me an email. I swear, I'll answer it. Be nice to yourself and take an hour (MAX!) to whine and feel crappy about it.
Pin that rejection up: Take pride in it. It can't hurt you if you don't let it. You got rejected. You know what that means? It means you had the guts to put your work out there. It means that you took the effort and time to submit. Believe in yourself. Believe in your work.
Starting writing again: Write a flash piece about what revenge you would like to take on whoever hurt your feelings. Write a poem about what you will do to celebrate when you get accept. Start writing that Academy Award speech for Best Screenplay. (Okay, that last one was just what I do.)
Keep Submitting: Don't reject yourself first. Don't be the first person-in the long line of people who will-who tells you "No!" Be your own cheerleader. Once, I heard that being an artist is constantly fluctuating between wild self confidence and overwhelming self doubt. Swing back over to the self confidence. You got this.