The Art of Being Rejected Without Dying

drafts and drafts

No, thanks.  It’s not for us.  We’re going to pass. 

Life as a writer is a life of rejection far (FAR) more often than not. 

These are things no one tells you before you start.  Or – they do tell you, and you think: Oh, not me!  I’m going to sell the first thing I write! For a million dollars.  Because I am that awesome. 

You will be rejected —

— if not that first time, then another time.  Or another time after that. Even though you really, truly are awesome.  And every. single. time. it will hurt like hell.  When you’ve poured your heart and soul into a project, spending countless hours staring into the unforgiving face of your laptop, missing out on friends and family (or let’s be honest — even an uninterrupted marathon of Orphan Black) — to have someone read what you’ve written and not be equally enamored with it can feel like humiliation of the highest order.

Maybe I shouldn’t even be a writer… you quietly think. I just want to die. 

Sometimes that rejection is all about you and all about your project.

If you didn’t take the time to make it truly excellent — then why on earth would someone else take it seriously?  Don’t put junk out into the world.  Or — maybe you did take it seriously, but there are technical issues with it.  You forgot to be original and created a carbon copy of something that already exists. Maybe you still haven’t quite figured out Final Draft. Maybe you did sell something, but there are still issues with it.  So you’re going to get notes that don’t mince words: We think this part sucks. Fix it.  

So, be a better writer on the next draft or the next project.  Grow from this experience of utter and complete rejection.  The first pilots I ever wrote (including the ones that got me signed with my reps) are buried in a password-protected folder on my laptop.  They will never sell. They will NEVER see the light of day again. Because I’m a better, stronger writer than I used to be. We’ve all been there. And we’ll all continue to be there for the rest of our careers. There’s always a way to get better.

But sometimes that rejection has absolutely nothing to do with you at all.

For instance, I have a kickass pilot that I am completely in love with.  Along the way, a company passed on it because they were looking for female-driven relationship dramas.  So, my male-led sci-fi thriller was never going to make it on their development slate.  It was a bad match. So, maybe the company you’re pitching is the wrong company for your awesome story.  Maybe they already have another Lawyer-By-Day-Shark-Fighter-By-Night project in the pipeline. Maybe you caught them on a bad day, and they read through page 5 of your story when 6 is where it really gets started! Maybe the executive really doesn’t have any time over the next two months.   None of these make you a bad writer.

It just means you’re playing the ever-popular game of Trying to Sell Something.

Rejection feels like death, no matter the reason behind it. 

Every writer has days where they just want to crawl in a hole and die. This is part of the story and part of the life of being a writer.  Get used to it, or seriously — get off the roller coaster, for your own safety and sanity.

But if you can take every No, thanks. and find some little piece that will help you move onto the next awesome thing (that will still have a 99% chance of being rejected)… one day, you’re going to hit it.

We love it. We’d like to sign on. Let’s go make a movie. 

One day…

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One Reply to “The Art of Being Rejected Without Dying”

  1. Just wait!!!! Hard as it is. There is a corner up ahead, do you see it? Yes you just don’t see what’s around that corner….,,,

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