For a long time, the word rejection made me nauseous. My journey with rejection began as an actor. After several years of riding the highs and lows of auditions and waiting for call-backs, I decided my skin wasn’t thick enough for the industry. And so bizarrely tried my hand at writing instead. It’s ironic because there was so much more rejection in store for me!
But the wonderful thing is, that when it came to writing, I decided the lows were worth it. And that’s how I know I’m on the right path.
The magic I feel when writing is worth the risk of rejection when it’s time to submit that manuscript or put my novel out there. Once deciding this, I knew I had to toughen up and learn to cope well with inevitable rejection. I went from someone who would cry when I received criticism in the beginning, to a writer who can shake off rejection in a couple of hours (okay, a day at the most!) It took a lot of practice and it definitely wasn’t overnight.
I feel like the biggest shift occurred when I untangled my ego from my writing. I had to recognise first how much I was clinging to the success of my writing as a way of measuring my worth. If this book gets published, I’ll finally be a paid author. If this book becomes a best-seller, I can be so proud. This sort of self-talk builds rejection up as something tragic when it happens – because it feels very personal.
Once I realised what I was doing, I practiced taking myself out of the scenario. I honoured the fact that when I hit send, or when my book is available for sale, I have to ‘let go’ of the outcome and accept it has very little to do with me anymore. This is such a difficult thing to do, but with enough practice it can be achieved. If I caught myself worrying about not hearing back from my agent for example, I’d imagine ‘letting go’ of the outcome. Shifting my thought to, If she likes it, that’s great, if not I’ll create a plan B, and then I’d get on with my day, focusing on something else instead.
It’s amazing how quickly our brain can take to this new way of thinking. I’m not pretending it’s easy, or that I’m always in this zen place of surrender and don’t mind what happens! I definitely still catch myself playing out potential rejections in my mind. The difference is that now, I don’t let this take over. When my work is rejected now, it’s fairly easy for me to take it in my stride and believe there’s another, perhaps even better, option out there and get on with things. This freedom means that I can continue to write without so much heartbreak or ups and downs and I believe it’s also the reason why I can see myself continuing to write forever.
I hope that my attempts at overcoming the pain of rejection helps you a little in some way on whatever journey you’re on right now. Just remember, rejection can most often be a gift - steering you towards something bigger and better than you can imagine (yet).