Writers often stay in the closet about their writing. Why? Because admitting you’re an author opens you up to feedback, critique, and rejection – more than any professional outside of arts and entertainment.
Staying in the closet, however, means never getting published. For this reason, writers are encourage to thicken their skin and get used to rejection. Easier said than done, especially since most writers are sensitive and empathetic by nature.
I am hyper-sensitive to rejection of any kind, even outside of my writing life, and self-doubt has been my worst enemy for as long as I can remember. After five years in the business of being an author, my skin has not been thickened – wrinkled, but not thickened – and my ego is more fragile than ever.
At first, I thought the self doubt would disappear after I finished my first manuscript. Nope- that was when I first came out of the closet and faced the rejection of publishers.
First published book? Nope – then it was reviews and sales records.
Second published book? Nope – ditto to above followed by the rejection of my third manuscript.
Agent? Well, this is the stage I’m at now, having just signed my first (and hopefully last) contract with a literary agent earlier this month. I am excited about this new step in my career but I have to admit, by this time in the game I am grizzled and wrinkled enough to know that the need for thick skin does not end here. As we work on another set of edits before she makes my first agented submission, I know we heading back at stage one (only this time in a tank with bigger fish – and sharks).
Since my skin is not thickening on its own, I’ve collected a list of links that can help writers – and anyone with a heart beat, really – face the world of feedback, criticism, and rejection. Not exactly light summer reading but maybe, just maybe, it can help bring us into fall with something more useful than a sunburn.
Rejection: 3 Methods for Coping (Gotham Writers) A good, quick place to start.
25 Things Writers Should Know About Rejection (Terrible Minds) Digger deeper with ideas that go beyond the standard “suck it up”. Caution: mostly flowery, but occasionally foul, language.
5 Ways for Writers to Overcome Self-Doubts (write to done) While some of these pointers apply to more seasoned writers (NOT authors), I love The Pimple Rule. Great links to other posts on making peace with criticism and why feeling like a failure boosts creativity.
The Seven Stages of Publishing Grief (Writer Unboxed) Describes the ups and downs of writing in the age of google and amazon with a demonstration of how a writers reaction to bad book news follows the seven stages of grief.
Famous Writers Who Were Rejected Before Making it Big (Bubble Cow)In an industry where comparison is paramount, remembering that all the great ones – our mentors, our role models, the objects of our envy – have also been rejected can literally help keep us sane.
I truly believe that if you are not getting rejected you are not getting published but sometimes – okay, often – a gentle reminder is in order. And since the web is littered with them, here are some more:
Best Sellers Originally Rejected (Literary Rejections)
Famous Authors Harshest Rejection Letters (Flavorwire)
Literary Rejections on Display: When all else fails, it helps to know you are not alone. This blog is for the not-so-famous among us to share the pain of rejection.
Famous Writers on Literary Rejection (Aerogramne Writers’ Studio) And finally, some words of inspiration from writers who have been through the tunnel and reached the light of success but still faced rejection.
If you have any tips to share, please comment! I’d love to hear how you’ve thickened thou skin. Or have you given up?