Every author is going to face rejection during his or her career – lots of it. Here’s how you should think about that rejection and what you can do to deal with.
1. It’s A Test
You can take it crying like a baby or face it like an adult. It’s a true test of your will, determination and mental strength. Instead of the old “why me?” response when you face it, you should be saying “I’m glad I was chosen for this test.”
Writers face rejection. That’s it. You can’t get away from it. As long as you want to be in the arts, you will experience it – whether you’re a writer, journalist, musician, artist, painter, photographer or dancer. It’s like Hyman Roth says in Godfather II: “This is the business we chose!”
And by business, I mean the business of rejection.
Just think of it as a test, and the more you study and learn the ins and outs of it, the easier it will be for you to take, and pass, that exam of personal resilience, persistence and tenacity.
2. Start Taking It As Early As Possible
If you’re lucky enough to know what you want as early as possible, you’ll start going for it right away. However, that means the rejection will start as well. The better you’ll be later on if you start receiving rejection from a young age, because that’s what builds a think skin and backbone – and it will help you with other things in life as well.
Take professional athletes as an example. Athletics is one of those careers where you have to start practising from a very early age. By the time these athletes reach their teens, they’re already seasoned in being cut, hearing “no”, and people telling them they need to practice more and that they’re just not ready yet.
With any hardships in life, the earlier you start enduring it, the stronger you will become.
3. It’s A Lightbulb Above Your Head
When you receive rejection, and a lot of it, use it as a realization. Being self-critical is extremely hard, but it will help you as a writer. If you receive 10 or 20 rejections within a short timespan, use it to reflect and take a step back. Go back to the drawing board and REWRITE.
Sometimes, and in some cases many times, the people rejecting you DO know what they’re talking about – especially if you’re able to get your material in the right hands. If some of them have taken the time to give you constructive criticism, feedback and notes – take that and run with it – and don’t come back until you’ve improved on your work.
If rejection makes you go back and rewrite your material to make it better, you should be personally thanking rejection.
If you receive 20 rejections within a short timespan, go back to the drawing board and REWRITE.Click To Tweet
4. It Separates You From The Rest
If you can take rejection, you’re already ahead of the game. I have found that most people, and by most I mean literally 99% of people, can’t take rejection. Us 1% of people in the fine arts have chosen to be guinea pigs. You can be like 99% of people who choose a profession just so they don’t have to face rejection, or you can go with your gut instinct and what you were meant to do, and be that original, unique, 1% that not only takes it, but rises above it.
People are impressed with those that face rejection on a regular basis. It makes you stand out. It means you have been through the ringer and back, and that you have stories to tell.
5. It Helps With Connections
As a screenwriter, one of the most frequent questions or comments I get is: “It’s all about who you know, right?”
Well, obviously! That’s not the only thing, but it certainly helps. The question is: how do you get to know people? Not just making connections, but building relationships as well. You need to throw yourself out there and get people to read and analyze your material. This goes for all writers. If you’re going to be spending years at this craft and facing rejection, you might as well take that time making connections as well and build up your network.
Rejection isn’t always a completely closed-door. Sometimes that door is left open just a bit and it’s up to you to nudge that door open a little more. I’ve made some of my best connections with people who initially rejected one of my scripts. There’s always chances for you to come back better and stronger, and what better way to make connections then with people who can become fans of your writing?
6. Nobody Cares That You’ve Been Rejected
Nobody cares about your sob story. Nobody cares about how long you’ve been in the trenches. Nobody cares about how hard you’ve worked, how many writing samples you have, or this or that. Sympathy is not something writers can use to get them in the door. Also, it’s very naïve and unprofessional to be using rejection to garner the sympathy vote.
Perseverance is the key ingredient to reaching your goals, but you have to let the writing speak for itself. It may take you years for things to start happening, but the people you’re trying to impress (agents, managers, editors, publishers, executives, etc., etc., etc.) only care about the WRITING and quality of the material.
What came before is your own internal story, which you can certainly share with others, especially if that’s what allowed you to reach certain goals – but don’t think people will say “yes” to you just because of that.
7. Turn Yours Dream Into A Burning Desire
There are people who have hopes and dreams and then there are those that have this obsessive, burning desire to make it at what they’re so passionate about. These are the ones that can’t see themselves not doing this thing for a living. The people who aggressively go out there, hustle, and keep coming back stronger year after year after year after year after year…those are the ones that find a way to reach their dreams.
If this is you, then rejection will be much easier to take, because nothing should stop you from reaching your goals. You have to be so intent on making it that no amount of rejection will break you or question your ability or talent.
It’s one thing to have a dream, but a whole different ball game if you’re realistic about it, in the form of a question that goes something like this: Do I want and need this bad enough that I’m willing to not only spend years at it, but in those years face a mounting plethora of back-breaking and bone-shattering rejection that comes along with it?
I asked myself that a long time ago, and there has been no turning back ever since. I’ve been able to take rejection all these years because the writing fire burns inside of me so intensely and the willingness to persevere is way stronger than people saying “no.”
About the Author
Shane Weisfeld is a screenwriter from Toronto. His first produced credit was the crime-thriller feature film ‘Freezer’ starring Dylan McDermott and Peter Facinelli. He sees rejection as a good, blunt, honest friend who will always be there by his side, making him better and stronger. He adheres to the Gina Rodriguez philosophy of “I Can And I Will.”
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.