High school was twenty years ago, but I still look back with a bit of embarrassment when it comes to some of the attitudes I held back then. I was the undisputed king of Blame Town. Didn’t make varsity in football? The coach hated me. Didn’t get an A on my paper? The teacher hated me. Didn’t win a wrestling match? God hated me. Couldn’t get a date? God made me ugly (because he hated me.) And so on.
It wasn’t until my early twenties when I finally understood that if you want to succeed in life, you have to stop blaming everyone else and accept the fact that the only person you can blame for your failures is the guy you shave with.
Once you can accept that fact, you can begin the process of learning from failures and using them to improve yourself.
Everyone gets rejected and everyone fails at something at some point. That’s how life works. It’s what one does with the failure that separates the successful people from everyone else.
In writing, for example, rejection is a part of life. If you can’t handle a rejection, if you blame the publisher or editor, you’ll never make it. If you can learn to accept rejections for what they are and don’t take them personally, they will make you a better writer.
I want to make a bold suggestion to aspiring writers out there. The next time you get a form letter rejection, sit back and spend five minutes reflecting why your story didn’t get picked for the publication. I’m not giving you permission to make excuses; I’m telling you to figure out what you did wrong. Did you just skim over the publisher’s submission guidelines instead of actually reading them and following them to the letter? Did you take a few minutes to study the publication to make sure that your story would actually be a good fit before sending it in? Did you take the time to find out the editor’s name and attach a professional cover letter?
Or maybe your submission was perfect. Then take look at your work. How many passive verbs were you too lazy to fix? How many potential plot holes did you ignore, hoping that the editor would do the same? How many shortcuts did you take, using dialog to tell the story instead of showing it with descriptive language? You get the point.
So next time you fail or get rejected, either in writing or in real life, see it as an opportunity. Don’t blame anyone else and don’t make excuses. Figure out what caused the rejection, what you can learn from it, and how you can improve.
What about you? How do you try to improve after a rejection? Leave a comment and let us know!