TIPS FOR WRITERS ON DEALING WITH REJECTION BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Writers and creatives are often referred to as ‘sensitive beings’ and if this weren’t true we wouldn’t be able to write those great stories that move our audiences and readers emotionally. So please wear your ‘I am Sensitive Badge’ With Pride.  This sensitive side brings with it a downside, as most often we’re not able to deal with rejection very well, and if it’s not dealt with, rejection can stop you from ever putting your work out there.

So whether dealing with rejection from an application pitch, or dealing with rejection from fans who reject your work and call you names, I’ve got a few tips below on how I’ve been handling rejection for the past 14 years in my career as a professional writer. Hope some of these tips help you grow thick skin, lick your wounds fast and move on to be the best you can be.

  1. Keep busy: Don’t pause your life waiting for the results of whatever it is you applied for. Move on to the next project. Being busy with another idea I’m developing has helped me deal better when the rejection comes in. I’m able to move on faster because I was already busy and hadn’t pressed the pause button. So please, I beg o, apply for whatever you’re applying for, then move on.
  2. It is not you that got Rejected but the project: Most times we take it personal when ‘we’re’ rejected, forgetting that it was not really you but the story idea or script you pitched.  I’m learning to separate these two and it’s working for me. Of course there are some projects that will be more interested in you the writer and not the concept, but most times it’s really about what’s on the page regarding your creation, and it might not be a fit for them. It’s hard to separate the two but once you learn how to, you’re able to bounce back faster from rejection.
  3. Don’t put your eggs in one basket: Don’t apply for only one thing a year and then let that dampen the mood for the rest of the year. Apply for many things, apply wide, keep throwing the spaghetti on the wall and I guarantee you something will stick. This year alone I applied to Berlinale Script station (which FYI is open for applications with a September deadline) I didn’t get in, I applied to Follow the Nile, I didn’t get in. Did that stop me from applying for the just ended Netflix Pitch, No, will that stop me from applying for Berlinale again? No. I also applied to Cinephilia Bound Cannes 2020 and I was a TOP 20 FINALIST from thousands of applications, I didn’t make the top 5 after the cut off, but guess what, it gave me an energy boost, I wear my rejections as badges of honour because from each rejection I learn something new, I relook my story, look for gaps in my characters and keep growing as a writer.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others: I know it’s hard to look the other way when your friends seem to be ‘winning’ and you seem to be ‘losing’. I remind myself that I am not on my friends’ journey, but on my own personal journey, this is why God created us differently, so anytime you start comparing yourself to others, stop and count your blessings one by one. You will be surprised.
  5. Work Harder:  Since change is the only constant in life. It calls for us to adapt fast and move on. When you get that rejection, lick those wounds, mop for a day and then pick yourself up and get back on the grind. There’s no other way to it. The faster you pick yourself up, the faster you get back to creating your stuff and making it the best it can be.  Keep creating because opportunity meets preparedness, you don’t want to be caught without a well thought out story idea when the next pitch call comes.  
  6. Believe in yourself: Invest in your craft, work hard, push boundaries with your work.  This belief in yourself might get shaken when you receive rejections, but do not allow rejection to make you doubt your capabilities as a creator, if this is truly your calling then you are made for this, consider rejection just part of your creative journey and keep shining your light.
  7. Your work might be a trendsetter: Another thing I consider when I get rejected for a project I really believe in, is that I might be a trendsetter. No one wants to risk on the unknown, so if you really believe in your project, don’t throw it away, perfect it and put it in a folder because a time will come when the world will be ready for that particular work.

I hope these pointers help you shift your mindset on how to deal with rejection. The arts are not for the faint hearted, Rejection is part of the journey, so let’s chin up and be the best we can be!

Hit reply and leave us some tips on how you’ve coped with rejection over the years.

2 thoughts on “TIPS FOR WRITERS ON DEALING WITH REJECTION BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’”

  1. I’m glad that you have freely shared these gems. Now I have realized where I got stuck and how to move on. Thank you Damaris.

    1. Hey Mumbi, I’m glad this article resonates with you and helps you. Thanks for the comment. Hope you’ve also joined my email list as I share lots more with my email list all for free! Karibu! And all the very best in your writing journey!

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