First, let me address writer’s block. A few cures:
- Do it anyway. Make yourself write a crummy paragraph. It’s easier to revise something terrible than to fret over coming up with something in the first place.
- Turn off that English teacher. She’s mean (I know; I was one). She takes away your courage. Tell yourself, “Yeah, it may be incorrect, but at least it’s words on a page.” Kindly tell that English teacher that you’ll let her have her say . . . after the first draft.
- Take a walk. Getting out of your office and away from your computer will help.
- Do something other than writing that is creative. Take photos. Draw a picture. Often doing something like that will free you up.
Now, on to rejection. A few years ago, I asked about rejection to a group of published writers. Rejection does stink. It’s hard. But you need to think realistically about it, heralding its benefits:
- Rejection is proof that you’re gutsy and you’ve tried.
- Rejection is not a “never,” but a not yet.
- Rejection is a writer’s badge of honor. What good publishing story is complete without the obstacle of rejection?
- Rejection keeps you humble.
- Rejection is simply one person’s opinion.
- Rejection helps you grow in your craft. It is the impetus for change.
- Rejection provides paper to cover one or two or three or four walls of your office. Just think! You won’t have to buy costly wallpaper!
- Rejection, as you get closer to publication, will be more personal. What I mean is that at first you will get form rejection letters. But as you improve, your rejections will get real, live feedback. That’s a good sign.
- Rejection can give you direction for a project.
- Rejection may help you realize your current project is not marketable. Then you can tweak it, abandon it for another project.
- Rejection gives you thick skin. (Believe me, the idea that once you’re published, you’ll never have rejection again is a PollyAnna view. In fact, it gets more painful. Learning to accept rejection with grace now will help you immensely when you get more painful rejections later as a published writer.)
- Rejection gives you empathy for other writers.
- Rejection weeds out the hobby writers from the real writers. If you’re stymied by rejection, if it paralyzes you, then you might want to search your heart to see if writing is really what you’re supposed to do. If you are called to be a writer, rejection will not stop you from submitting. It won’t. If it does, re-evaluate.
- Rejection helps you with your people-pleasing tendencies. (Ouch, I resemble that remark.)
- Rejection helps re-direct your career. If your staggering work of genius is rejected, then maybe it’s time to write something different.
- Rejection helps you know if you’ve found your voice or not.
- Rejection adds texture to your writing journey.
And now, what not to do when you’re rejected:
- Immediately send off a nasty email to the editor who rejected you.
- Or blog about your rejection in specific terms. “That terrible Mary DeMuth rejected me.” Search engines, in this case, will not be your friend.
- Wallow longer than one hour.
- Believe it must mean the end of your career.
What to do when you’re rejected:
- Take that query, re-tweak it, and send it out again, baby!
- Eat dark chocolate.
- Remember that every great writer has been rejected numerous times.
- Allow for a thirty-minute pity party, then get on with your day.
- If there are critical things said about your piece, let them sit for several hours or a day, then get back to them. Truly, truly read the editorial feedback. Don’t view it as problematic, but priceless. Make the changes necessary. It won’t mean that you can resubmit to that editor, but when you submit it elsewhere, it will be stronger.
- Bring your piece to your critique group and ask them to be merciless. Often we can’t see our own flaws.
I hope that helps those of you today who are struggling with writer’s block and/or rejection issues. This is a hard journey, folks. It takes perseverance, grit and guts. Keep at it.