A 5 Step Process for Dealing With Rejection
So, I'm looking for an agent. I have an offer to publish my book and in the old days this would be a slam dunk. I remember sitting in sessions at writing conferences hearing stories of people who got a contract with a publisher and were told it was a sure-fire way to get an agent. Now, not so much.
And it turns out that indifference is just as bad as rejection. So I'm thinking a lot about rejection. (And, for the record, I sent out my novel to a gazillion places before I got this acceptance.)
It is important to remember that rejection is not just a mental and emotional response, but a visceral, physical one, too. Here's how it goes for me:
It starts as a shimmery feeling all through me, then a surge of adrenalin and a punch in the gut, sometimes so hard it makes me want to double over. This is no doubt a fight or flight response, and it is damned uncomfortable.
Then the head stuff begins:
- I'm a failure
- This is the one thing I love doing, and nobody will let me do it (note victim mentality)
- All is lost
- Now everything is ruined, even my Work in Progress (WIP)
- No use working on my WIP because I'm such a failure
After quite awhile of wallowing in this stage, comes the false bravado:
- I will do it!
- They can't stop me
- Who are they to judge me?
- I'll make it happen if it kills me
This is a semi-helpful stage because it indicates you're moving out of the wallowing, but be aware that false bravado is predicated on the empty space inside you that remains when your ego collapses. And this is not the empty space the gurus speak of, it is the empty space that is hurting and scared. Not a good foundation to build upon.
So what's a writer to do? How in the hell does one deal with rejection? Like this:
Feel your pain. Our automatic response to an uncomfortable feeling is to run from it, or try to change it. Don't. Sit with it. Feel it fully and deeply. Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now and identify it. One of the keys to dealing with hurt and rejection is allowing yourself to process it fully, which we don't do. Because it is scary. But then number two comes in:
Let go. Oh lordie, it is easier to let go when you've processed something fully. You can feel it. But whatever feeling you are feeling is going to hang around until you've felt it, so don't think you can skip number one to get to the good part. Huh-uh. A handy visual for letting go: imagine your thoughts and worries as balloons and watch yourself release them into the air. Feels good, doesn't it?
Affirmations. They really do work to change your mindset, but not when you're busy trying to cover up stuff that is still clogging you up. So do not skip to this step whatever you do. But when you've processed and released, get you some positive statements to say to yourself. It's like laying sod on a new field or planting new seeds. Okay, I'll stop with the cheesy metaphors.
Begin the process again. Get back to work on your WIP, or start a new one. Here's your job: set your intention (sell my novel, get an agent, etc.), put it out into the universe, trust that the universe will act on it for you, and get writing. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
Enjoy success. Don't forget to celebrate even the smallest of victories along the way. It is what makes living worthwhile.
Create a successful, inspired writing life: Next time you get a rejection, remind yourself it is all part of the writing process. And then activate the process above to help you through it.
I'd love to hear how you deal with rejection? Do you scream and cry? Throw things? Or maybe you've developed some more useful reactions. Please share them with everyone. Fairly often the best part of my blog posts are in the comments, cuz my readers rock.
The photo is public domain from the Library of Congress.