Wednesday, April 25, 2012


What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! Wise words and especially poignant for writers, who seem to spend most of their life hearing the word 'No'.
I've written on this subject before, but it's one that crops up so often it's worth covering again. It's easy to get disheartened, to throw a paddy, say 'fuck it all' and use your latest rejection letter to set fire to the person who sent it's pubic hair. It's easy to sink into a grump, shout and yell at your significant others, kick doors, punch walls, shut yourself in the cupboard under the stairs and cry until you can cry no more...but really that is just being silly. It's self destructive and self defeating and if you choose this route your career will be over before it's started.

They are not rejecting you!

Yes, it's true. They are NOT rejecting you. You might think they are, but I can assure you they are not.

What they are rejecting is the work you sent them and this is not necessarily because it's the worse drivel they've ever read. There could be lots of reasons why they've said no. They may have a similar project in production, they may hate the genre, they may have had a blazing row with their significant other before they came to work that morning, their coffee might be cold, or they may just be an idiot. It happens!

So what you need to do is bounce back and straight away. My usual trick is to go online, research a few production companies and send them some of my work, get myself back out there. The more work you send out the more chances you make for yourself. Don't carpet bomb, but instead keep a steady stream of work flowing outwards. It also helps if you write something new now and again, as there's nothing worse than sending out something you wrote ten years ago that everyone and their mother has already read and rejected. Stay fresh!

Yeah you might be disappointed with the rejection, sometimes it does hurt, like it did for me last week. It was a big rejection and it hurt bad. I sulked around the house for an hour before I phoned my wife to tell her the bad news, because I knew she would say the right things to make me feel better. Then I did some research and sent three emails...and one of them paid off. I still felt bad for a day and half but, I didn't let it stop me from moving forward. If I had I would of missed out on something great. It's important to keep going, to not let rejection stop you in your tracks. Just think of it as a war of attrition. Keep sending a steady stream of your work out and eventually you'll wear them down.

Another trick I use is to keep all of my good emails or letters so that if I am feeling down about things I can just go back and read them. It's like a mini ego boost and it reminds me that some people do actually like my work. When I phoned my wife she reminded me of all the great things I had going on and that one rejection really didn't matter. And you know what, she was right...she usually is. It's important to focus on the positives when bad news comes your way. It's not easy, but it's something you have to do.

Remember, although rejection does hurt it won't kill you - unless they stab you through the heart with the metal bindings of your screenplay - otherwise it'll just smart a bit for a couple of days, then you can brush it off and get on with your career. You're in this for the long haul. Keep going!


Janice Okoh said...

Someone told me that it's how you handle rejection that determines how successful you will be. I used to wallow loads and I hate thinking how many years I spent in the early days not writing cos I'd been rejected. I could've written about 5 novels in that space of time.

Dominic Carver said...

That is so true.

I was the same, except I went one stage further and would go on Twitter and Facebook and moan about it. Bad move! Media people read Twitter and Facebook...funny that!

It took me a while, but I've finally accepted rejection as part of the job and I've noticed how quickly my career has progressed since. If I do get really upset it'll only be for an hour or two and then I'm back in front of my computer working even harder.

Anonymous said...

That last comment is so true; gots to keep the work moving out. I wasted a lot -A LOT - of time not working because I took each rejection as a sign I was wasting my time. A rejection note can be many things, buyou should never use it as a way out of your responsibility to your work, your art and yourself.