Monday 17 March 2008

Five Ways to Overcome Rejection Blues : Seek Emotional Detachment

We are examining 5 Ways to Overcome REJECTION BLUES. The first way is to:


To be successful in any profession, but particularly in the creative arts, one needs to cultivate emotional detachment. Without the ability to step back and look at our own creations objectively there is a good chance that we will never improve. Even multi published authors - those who want to stay published, at any rate - have to work towards continuous improvement in their craft.

For an unpublished author, the need for emotional detachment is even more essential. It forces one to ask the impossible question: "What if....?" What if the critic is correct when she says the pace is slow? What if the agent has seen something in the book that my subjective attachment to the mansucript has blinded me to? What if the examiners' comments have a grain of truth in them?

It's only by having the courage to ask these questions that one can, as an author aspiring to be published, chip away at the tiny flaws which prevent a manuscript from standing out from the slush pile. To gain the necessary objectivity, what one must do when receiving another rejection slip is:

a. Do not take rejection personally. Of course, it is very personal when some stranger who has no idea of the blood, sweat and tears shed over your precious manuscript callously dismisses it with a simple "this is not suitable for our lists". No praise for all your effort. No indication that they think you're the next J K Rowling (even when you know you're the next publishing phenomenon just waiting to be discovered!). And no request to see the full manuscript.

But, truly, it's not personal. It's just busy professionals doing their job to the best of their ability. Yes, agents and editors and examiner's are also human and they may be making the mistake of the century by rejecting your manuscript. But, more likely, they have the necessary professional objectivity towards your work that you, as emotionally involved author, lack.

b. Once you've admitted that the rejection has some validity, you need make an objective assessment of the manuscript. Be neither too critical nor too generous in this exercise. If you're too critical, your inner critic will delight in freezing every future creative idea you have. If you're too generous, your ego will never allow you to admit to yourself that your work still needs improvement. To gain an objective view of your manuscript you need to fuse your inner critic (which can't see anything right in your work) with your ego (which can't see anything wrong in your work) and arrive at an assessment which recognises both the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the work. Then it's decision time!

c. Based on your objective assessment, you now need to make a detached decision on your goals for the manuscript. Let your head ask the questions: Is this manuscript worth re-writing? Do you still have the enthusiasm for it? Will re-writing and revisions(and I'm not just talking about minor copy editing revisions; I'm talking about structural changes to the novel: changing plot, character and settings) make the manuscript better or worse?

Sometimes the initial energy, the passion driving the manuscript, can be lost in the search for revision heaven. Forget what your emotions say. If your reason says that rewriting or revising the manuscript is not going to save it, perhaps it's time to look on it as a learning curve, pack it away (with gratitude for all the experience you've gained from it) and move on to the next book.

You'll know when you've managed to detach from your emotions and be objective about your work when you start to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF again. And this is the next vital step needed to overcome the rejection blues.

To read more on "5 Ways to Overcome Rejection Blues" visit:

1. Seek Emotional Detachment
2. Believe in Yourself
3. Take Positive Action
4. Write, Write, Write
5. Avoid Comparisons

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