As authors, surviving rejection is one of our top challenges. However, by reframing rejection, we can bolster our dedication instead of allowing it to chip away at our souls.
What is Reframing?
Reframing means looking at something from another angle. When we use our imagination to view an issue from another direction, the fear or discomfort caused by that issue often subsides. We take our power back and transform this challenge into an opportunity. We engage our curiosity and ask why instead of just accepting the circumstance.
Often, when we receive a rejection for our work, we think of it as rejecting us, our talent, our dream. However, that’s often not the case.
Many world-famous authors (note the “s”!) received rejection letters.
In his book On Writing, Stephen King talks about having to replace the nail he used to impale his rejection slips with a spike since the nail wouldn’t support the weight.
Kenneth Grahame was told that his classic children’s book Wind in the Willows would never sell.
Catch-22, a cornerstone of American literature, was named after the number of rejections Joseph Heller received.
Does that change the way you look at their work? Of course not! Rejection is a normal part of the writer’s life.
Reframing rejection supports us as we build the necessary resilience to move forward. It keeps us in a mode of learning and enthusiasm as we pursue our art.
Here are some tips on reframing rejection so you can take back your power:
Ways to Reframe
First, let’s talk about my most abhorred rejection, the one where the writing slips into the ethers of the internet and no one responds. I call this particular rejection “crickets” because that’s all I hear after the work goes out.
In this case, that lack of response usually lies with the number of works received. Large numbers of submissions combine with the limited ability of an editor to reply to each author and make the “crickets” response unavoidable. After all, there are only so many hours in each day. SInce the tidal wave of work can overwhelm even the most dedicated editor, we can know the issue here is not our writing but their lack of time.
How can you reframe this? Take your power and set your own deadline. If they miss it, feel free to send your query to the next editor on the list.
Going through “crickets” multiple times makes any actual communication, even if it is a rejection of the work, feel like a prize. A simple “no” from an editor sends me running around the house yelling “YAHOOOO!”
So, why did they reject our work?
Most often, our work is rejected because it isn’t what the editor or agent is looking for at this time. Plain and simple. Maybe your short story about vampires landed on their desk at the end of a long spate of vampire stories or a romance novel set in 1920’s Portland refuses to spark your targeted agent.
Or maybe your work showed up on a bad day.
Or, or, or….
As our queries float out into the ethers of the internet, we cannot control any of these outside influences. None of this means we aren’t talented writers. It only means that it’s not time for that piece with that person.
Sometimes our writing just doesn’t resonate with that specific person. In that case, do we really want them touching our precious words? No! Of course not!
The editor or agent who believes in our work blesses us by becoming an advocate, so don’t settle for someone who isn’t enthusiastic about your work. Remove that person from your list and move on to the next one. FYI—there will always be a next one.
Occasionally, we offend someone and they reject our work. Guess what? That means your work has a point of view. If you are doing your job as a human and an artist, then you can expect some people to reject your work. Take it as a sign you are making art. Rejoice in these rejections, you fabulous artist!
How Can We Practice Reframing Rejection?
Of course, when we receive these rejections, they hit us hard. That’s natural, and taking a moment to indulge in some tears or screaming can be a good release. But, how do you build up your resilience so you can bounce back after these unfortunate occurrences?
Reflect on Past Rejection
First, it’s worth thinking back to other times in your life when rejection has occurred. How did you overcome and release those rejections? What were ways that worked for you to move past them?
Maybe you turned a high school bully into the murder victim in a short story or blessed an ex as they moved on or cleaned out a room to get rid of the bad energy.
Make a list of methods you used to get over those old rejections. When you think you’ve remembered all of the ways, see if you can’t think of another couple more.
With that list, consider which of these strategies you might use to reframe this particular rejection. Pick one and give it a try.
But maybe you have always had a hard time with rejection, and can’t think of a time that you were able to release this horrible feeling.
Use Your Imagination
Now is the time to engage your imagination!
Can you employ your curiosity to discover how this rejection expanded your experience? When reviewing your submission, did you find small mistakes that needed a bit of tweaking? Did the distance from your work help you to make a realization about the true path of your heroine?
Indulge a Little
Or maybe you just need a cuddle with the cat, a long bath, and a square of chocolate. A little self-pampering can ease a saddened heart and give you energy for the next run at the prize. And what a great excuse!
How about devoting yourself to those who love your writing instead of dwelling on the people who rejected your work?
Switch your focus from the harshness of rejection to the welcoming warmth of your fans. How can you serve your readers by creating MORE of THAT?
Your loyal readers want what you write. Give them what they desire instead of spending time obsessing over those few who aren’t fans.
If All Else Fails…
Finally, if all else fails, listen to Ted Lasso. “You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? Got a ten-second memory.” Be a goldfish!
Reframing rejection allows you to process the less pleasant part of writing without allowing it to pull you off track. Building this resilience makes you a stronger writer and artist, making it easier for you to send your words into the world for your real fans to find.
***This piece is inspired by Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching Tools™ as I continue my journey to becoming certified in that style. You can find more information at https://www.kaizenmuse.com.
Tell us in the comments: What are your strategies for reframing rejection?
LA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois empowers you to embrace JOY as you manifest your creative goals through her Creativity and Business Coaching. Battle resistance, procrastination, and overwhelm with her at your side, gently encouraging with humor and heart. When not coaching, you’ll find her with a pen or knitting needles in her hands. Discover her free guide, “Tricking Yourself into a Creative Habit” online at labourgeois.biz and start writing those words today. She can’t wait to read them! You can find her on her website.