You did it! Congratulations!
You’ve finished an amazing new blog pitch or proposal. You cross your “T’s” and dot your “I’s.” Everything is ready. You click Send, and sit back waiting for the accolades to come showering down.
[Ding!] There’s your email alert — “Dear Sir or Madam, We regret to inform you…”
BOOTY-PANTS! (That’s cursing to my toddler.)
Rejection is an unfortunate part of life. Whether we’re talking about blogging, business, or Lisa who rejected me our senior year of high school, everyone faces rejection.
What to do next?
A) Down a gallon of root beer, dress in your “lounging pants,” and listen to Adele, or
B) Accept the challenge, clean your wounds, and start the next project?
I’m all for option B. You should be too.
All around us are stories of successful people who were rejected time and again until they found their big break.
Here are 3 techniques you can use to turn rejection into motivation:
1: Make it a challenge
It ain’t over until it’s over.
~Yogi Berra, of the New York Yankees baseball team
Sports history is filled with great comeback stories.
As time runs out, the losing team rallies and charges ahead to win.
Movies are made from such stories.
For bloggers, it’s important to look at our work as a game — a game without points, referees, uniforms, coaches, scoreboards, jerseys, but a game nonetheless. In the work game, we can redefine rejection as what it should be: a challenge.
Challenges, by definition, are stimulating. When you’re stimulated, you pursue your goals. You find energy. You find joy. Champagne and teddy bears fall from the sky. (Okay… maybe not that last one, but you get the point.).
To quote Yogi Berra again:
I learned a long time ago that losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator… Accept the losses and learn from them.
Stephen King wrote in his book, On Writing, he would stick every rejection letter he received on a nail in his office. When the nail was full, he swapped it out for a spike.
Steven Spielberg was rejected from Film School three times. He successfully gained admittance on his fourth attempt, only to drop out to further his career.
The challenge of rejection is to see an opportunity for growth. Ask yourself “How can I do better?” while reviewing your work. Be honest with yourself; don’t be too soft or too hard.
If you like, you can create your own challenge board with your rejection letters. Wallpaper your office with them. Caution: If you do this, make sure you view the letters as a sign of your dedication to blogging and to your improvement.
2: Don’t take it personally
It’s not that easy bein’ Green
~Kermit the Frog, of The Muppets
You labor over a pitch. Your fingers hurt from pounding the keys. Carpal tunnel syndrome forces your hands into knots. And then, after all that effort, you’re rejected.
Or are you?
Rejections are not personal. You are still the wonderful person you always were. It’s the pitch that gets rejected, not the writer.
Yes, it still feels like when your kid is passed over by the birthday clown at your neighbor’s son’s 4th birthday party. (Stupid Sparkles.) That’s okay. There should be a little sting to a rejection. That’s human nature. But it should not lessen your self-worth. Not even the tenth or the hundredth rejection should make you feel poor.
Hopefully, none of us bloggers will ever get a rejection letter like this one sent to George Orwell for his famous book, Animal Farm. The four-line report listed Orwell’s work as stupid, pointless, boring, obvious, and damn dull. Horrible as it was, nothing in the report criticised Orwell himself. (Guess who laughed last.)
I lived in New York City for a few years to pursue acting. I went on many auditions for plays and films. Some I won. Some I didn’t. I learned most directors cast roles based on an image they created in their minds. Even the best actors get rejected because they don’t look or sound like the character the director imagined.
Blogs aim to to provide the best content for their readers – not the best pitch or post, but the best match for the blog. Since they cannot accept all posts, they search for the ones that meet their needs.
You’re still a good blogger even if a pitch gets rejected. Just look into a mirror and tell yourself, “You’re a brilliant blogging princess.” (Or prince. Whatever works for you. At least it’ll make you smile.)
3: Actively find out why
But because I knew you…
~Elphaba/Glenda, in the musical Wicked
Receiving a rejection letter is typically a passive experience. (I’m not counting the wailing, the screaming, and the throwing of office equipment.)
But you don’t have to passively accept rejection and withdraw from the opportunity.
A couple of years ago, I interviewed for a promotion. A few days later, I received a rejection email. I slammed my head into the desk a couple of times, and then… I replied. I asked for time to meet with the interviewer to discuss why I was not selected. The interviewer was thrilled and set aside an hour for us to talk about my interview and career.
When you receive a rejection letter, send a reply. Ask politely for constructive criticism about your pitch or proposal. As children’s author, Ellen Jackson, says about rejection on her website, “If someone gives you specific criticism, regard it as a gift. I always thank the person who gives me criticism.”
Pitches are rejected for many reasons: wrong quality, wrong topic, too funny, too serious, or too similar to another post published recently. You may learn the pitch was not technical enough, or too short. Armed with this information, you can improve your pitches so you land the job next time.
Don’t expect everyone to reply to your request for constructive criticism. So cherish the replies you get, because those people truly want you to succeed.
As a writer, the worst thing you can do is work in an environment of fear of rejection.
~Carol Leifer, author of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying (Amazon aff link)
Remember, rejections are a non-personal challenge for you to get active and keep trying. The blogging world needs writers like you — writers who will bring their own voice, own knowledge, own experience to their work.
The next rejection letter you receive, say “Thank you!” out loud because the universe is giving you another chance. Unlike you, Lisa; you blew it.