Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Rejection. It sucks. It truly does.

As writers and actors we have a heck of a lot of it, and, at least for me, it stings every time. It's very difficult when the product is something so personal. With acting, you are trying to basically sell yourself, and with writing you are trying to sell something that is a part of you.

Now of course we all cope in our different ways. Some deal with it matter of factly, it's business not personal. Some rage against the machine, telling everyone how much the industry sucks. Some sit quietly and mope.

And while some coping strategies may be better than others, I have always believed that the most important thing is to understand the pain.

This is what I have learned after years of acting and the whole writing thing. We are human beings. We feel sad when things don't work out. We can also feel angry, hurt, confused . . . even scared.

And there is nothing wrong with that. At all.

I feel sometimes we waste so much time beating ourselves up for feeling these feelings, that that in itself keeps us from moving on, past the pain of rejection. We live in a society where we have been told it is weak to cry. We are in businesses where others will note, "But you knew getting into it it would be really hard" and so we are not supposed to feel bad when the predictable happens.

Yeah, grand, whatever. We still feel what we feel. Whatever the feeling may be.

It's important, at least for me, to understand that no matter how I feel right now in the rejection state, I know I will not give up. This is a great thought to have because it then doesn't matter that you feel lousy now, or that you are full of self pity, because in the end you know that you aren't about to give up or anything. You're just being indulgent.

And that to me at least is the key. Instead of pretending the emotions don't exist, or being ashamed of them, I say indulge them. Not for a long time mind you, but take a day to just feel lousy. Vent to a caring friend. Cry into your pillow. Do whatever you need to do to purge the unhelpful feelings. Because then it's out. It's like, pardon the analogy, throwing up. Sometimes we consume something that is toxic to our system and our bodies automatically vomit it back up. And we feel better. Well "vomit" up the toxic emotions, lay them bare.

And then move on.

That is also very important.


There is nothing good that comes from wallowing.

The next day do something really proactive. Send out more queries, write a blog entry, write a novel, learn a monologue. Force yourself to feel that things are still somewhat under your control.

Of course this is only my coping strategy, some people have ones that suit them better. My point though is the solving of the problem comes not with the question of: "How do I stop feeling bad when I get rejected?" But rather: "How do I get past the emotions I inevitably feel when I get rejected?"

It's about acknowledging that you are human and feel things. Icky things. And then learning how to get past and cope with those icky feelings. Not get rid of them. But, in a really weird way, befriend them.

Now, I think it's time for others to share their coping methods! Don't be shy, we can all learn from each other!


Anonymous said...

Really great post, Adrienne. To cope with rejection I always remind myself of famous authors who were rejected themselves. For instance:

- Dr. Seuss was rejected 24 times

- Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers!

- Watership Down was rejected by 13 publishers

- And of course, Stephen King was rejected too, and even threw his ms of 'Carrie' away before his wife retrieved it!

So...even the legends have been rejected. That tends to put things in perspective when one is feeling rejected.

Ice cream works too.

Again, great post Adrienne! Can't wait to read Book 2!!


Polenth said...

If I feel bad over something, I usually go and make a cup of tea. By the time it's made, I'll be fine again. I'm not prone to sadness though.

If the word verification rejects me, I curse the dyslexia fairies instead. In that instance, it works better than tea.

Elizabeth S. said...

I always tell myself (and anyone who'll listen), "Meh, their loss!"

BUT, another great coping mechanism is to be reminded of successes. To whit: I was in a Target store here in the southern states and saw... TA DA! A copy of ALEX AND THE IRONIC GENTLEMAN!! I had a quiet squee moment for you. Target doesn't carry many books and they are ALWAYS only books that are well-known, in my experience - HP, Spyderwick, etc. I was delighted for you, quite the coup, imo.

(ps. Have fun at AdAstra! Wish I could be there, esp. for the auction!)

Anonymous said...

Good post.

I had a partial rejection yesterday that for some reason really got to me. I had a cry. Ate some chocolate. Mooched about.

Then I got up this morning and wrote another chapter of my WIP.

I feel fine now.

hwalk said...

I actually try to realize how much my stuff needs improvement. So when something gets rejected, I just think that perhaps it isn't good enough yet, or needs work, or I need to move on to a different thing. One of my greatest coping mechanisms is I don't put all my eggs in one basket--I keep working on stuff, keeping writing things, and so the rejection really doesn't matter because I have other things to work on.

Adrienne said...

These are all really great suggestions guys! Keep 'em coming! (Elizabeth, so cool you saw the book at Target! I know it's there, but have never actually seen it in person)

Heidi the Hick said...

I absolutely, 100% agree with you!!

I have to remind myself that this book has really only been rejected 13 times. That's nothing. I've improved it so much since those rejections. Yeah it's disappointing, but it's not like I'm going to give up. Why would I give up? It doesn't hurt to keep going.

Great, wonderful, post!

Mary said...

This post is timely. I received a rejection today! But with every rejection, I become more determined to try to succeed. It gives me a certain focus on how to improve my submission, reminds me how much I have to learn, and pushes me to work harder on my new novel.

As you said, we have to acknowledge and accept our feelings of disappointment, then move on. :)

marta said...

After I scream into my pillow, I take a deep breath, decide what, if any, useful information might be contained in said rejection, and if I still feel terrible and sick, I imagine my life if I let that rejection end my efforts. Do I really want to stop writing because someone hurt my feelings? Stop forever?

No. Of course not.

I that's how I get through it.

I don't remember now how I came to your blog, but I'm glad I did.