Rejection is ROUGH. In whatever form it comes. And when you put your work out into the world to be critiqued and judged, and the inevitable rejection eventually rolls in, it can be tough to deal with and even tougher to keep going.
So how can you bounce back after a rejection? Here are a few tips and things to consider:
Rejections Aren’t Personal…Even if They Feel That Way
When you put so much of yourself into your work, having it rejected for whatever reason can feel like a slap across the face (or in some dramatic cases, a stab to the heart). But it’s incredibly important to remember, first and foremost, that your work is being rejected. Not you.
It still sucks that your work hasn’t been accepted, but don’t confuse that with a personal slight.
Sometimes Your Work is Perfect…Just Not Perfect for This
When I was young and studying acting, I read a piece that explained that you can deliver the best audition of the group, but still not get the part because casting directors aren’t looking for the person who does best audition. They’re looking for the person who best fits the specifications they already have in mind for the role. It doesn’t matter how good your work is if it just isn’t what they are looking for.
The same goes for any situation where you put your work up for judgement or selection. Your work can be an utter masterpiece, but if it’s not the right kind of masterpiece, it could be rejected merely on that basis.
Remember that just because your work was rejected doesn’t mean it’s not awesome.
Use the Rejection to Improve
It’s not always possible to receive a critique or reason why your work was rejected, but if it is possible, do it. The biggest and best kick to my writing occurred when a few of my poems were rejected for a publication. The editor specified on the submissions page that if you asked he would provide you with a brief critique of your work and some reasons why they weren’t accepted for the publication. So I asked. I received some great feedback which I used to hone my work and the very next publication I submitted to accepted my work.
There are many times when receiving a critique isn’t possible. But if it is, take advantage of the opportunity and hopefully you can use it to improve your work and take another step forward.
Reward the Rejection
What if you not only associated rejection with something negative, but something positive as well? Use a rejection as an excuse to buy yourself that new paintbrush you’ve been wanting or that notebook you’ve been eyeing. Take yourself out to dinner and/or a movie. Take a day off and get a massage. Take a long bubble bath and read an exciting new book.
Start associating rejections with something good – “Well, my work may not have been accepted, but hey, it’s okay because I can create some amazing new work with my brand new ____[fill in your reward here]____.”
Remember that You Kick-ass for Even Trying
There are many people out there who can’t muster up the courage to submit their work for any reason. Just having enough courage and confidence in your work to put it up for judgement or selection is an impressive feat in itself.
Even if your work is rejected, be proud of the fact that you tried and realize that you seriously kick-ass. Use that pride to keep going.
How do you deal with rejection? We’d love to hear how you bounce back in the comments below!
* Image by unknown artist.