Rejection is particularly difficult to handle for perfectionists and high achievers. As a writer you will have to get ready for a lot of it. Publishers, editors, agents and readers can reject your work in polite or nasty ways. Modesty can be important but when this slips into overwhelming self-doubt, as you internalise the criticism, it can be paralysing. Many writers are high achievers and it takes an enormous effort to share your manuscript. Criticism can be like getting the carpet pulled out from under you. We want to share four tips to make the experience less painful.
- Do not take it personally.
Not everyone likes oranges. You might be an orange and you write like an orange. Some people really hate oranges, some people really like oranges and some people do not care either way. If you try and please everyone one, you will end up with a manuscript that lacks authenticity and a voice. Also, many publishers want your work to fit a certain cast. If it does not suit their commercial needs, it does not mean that your story lacks integrity. Sometimes you may be so unique that people without vision do not understand your work.
- Feed off the confidence and courage of those around you.
Join a writer’s group and find a mentor. This can help you realise that everybody experiences rejection. Writers are very supportive of other writers. There are many online writing communities that are motivational to the members. Mentors inspire us. They encourage us when we doubt ourselves and spur us to keep practising and moving forward. They ignite creativity and support us to be resilient and persistent.
- Listen to the constructive criticism.
Some feedback employs the radical candour model. They care whilst providing challenging and honest feedback. It is important to listen to this feedback as it makes you a better writer. For example, being told your writing is too flowery or descriptive gives you something to work on. Even if you love the description you use, toning it down will make your story more accessible. Nasty generalisations such as you cannot write, or this is terrible are just demoralising and should be ignored.
You can build your confidence by self-publishing. Everyone should have access to feedback about their writing and support to take it to the next step. A community is robbed of its richness if there is a lack of diverse voices telling their story. If your ideas are considered problematic, difficult, upsetting or provocative you may be silenced. Stories different to ours help enlarge our world and fill it with multiplicity. Reach out to Mary River Press Services if you want help to publish your manuscript.
When you get criticism, take time to remember your motivation for writing. Then reach out for support and self-publish to build your confidence. Happy writing!