So What! … Dealing with Rejection

So-WhatThere’s always a risk when you put your creative work out into the world. Is the work ready to be seen? And what do we do when we show our creative work and we have a less than enthusiastic response? Dealing with rejection and criticism is a natural and necessary part of any creative process. It’s hard not to take it personally. So what do you do when you’re feeling shot down, you’re feeling that it’s an attack on who you are creatively and it hurts to the core?

So much of how we deal with rejection is dependent on the narratives we write in our heads and these narratives are often the results of lifelong patterns that develop from the time we were children and how we were conditioned by parents, teachers, society, the media, our peers and other negative noise that we have been bombarded with throughout life.

“SO WHAT!” is one of my favorite mantras. It’s a brilliant response not to let negativity into your psyche. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen? So they don’t like it. So they don’t produce it. SO WHAT!  If you can, try to find out specific feedback about what they liked and didn’t like.  It is better to know so that you can progress toward making your work the best it can be.  And each rejection will get you closer to the right people who will work with you.  It only takes one to say yes.

Best selling authors J.K Rowling, Joseph Heller, Pearl S. Buck, John Grisham and Dr. Seuss are among an endess list of artists who endured numerous rejections of their work and went on to be wildly successful.   The entertainment industry is filled with people who will tell you no –often for the most arbitrary of reasons.  Learning to practice detachment from a specific outcome helps to build your inner resilience and courage to step out of your comfort zone and follow your vision in the face of negativity.

Other than having the talent to create the work, dealing well with rejection is probably the single most important skill an artist can develop to be a success.

Here are some tips on how to deal with criticism and rejection and not let it hold you back:

  1. In the beginning of your process, only show your work to a few trusted friends or colleagues who know how to effectively give criticism.  A work of art is delicate and evolving , so don’t expose yourself to someone who wouldn’t have your best interest at heart.
  2. Listen to criticism with an open mind but only take in what resonates with you and disregard the rest. You don’t have to agree with it. However,  if you are getting similar comments from multiple people you might want to consider it. But remember to trust your instincts and stay true to your personal creative vision. It’s your work!
  3. If you are not sure that it’s ready, don’t show it too soon to people who might be interested in producing or working with you, as you may only get one opportunity to show it to them.
  4. Reach out to the people for whom your work is the best fit.  Do your research and know who is right for you. For instance if you are a screenwriter writing character driven stories – don’t target an action movie producer or director to read your screenplay unless you know specifically that he or she is looking for your kind of material.
  5. Take some time every day to go within, and nurture yourself.  It’s important to take a the time and feel your feelings -even the pain of rejection and criticism – but don’t wallow in it. Give yourself a limit.  And then do something that makes you feel good and allows you to detach from it.  Tap into the joy of your creative work regardless of who likes it or doesn’t.
  6. Develop a core support group of like-minded creatives who will be able to empathize with you through the ups and downs of your career.

Remember what one of my heroes Eleanor Roosevelt said : “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  So don’t give anyone that power over your state of being.

If you are looking for a community of like-minded creative artists to share resources with and help you stay on track and keep resilient, consider joining one of our upcoming Creative Breatkthroughs workshops starting in January 2014.  For more information click here 

What are some of the ways that you stay strong in the face of rejection? Please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!

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