I considered chucking this month's suggested topic and writing about something else. See, I didn't think I had any experience with rejection of my work, so how could I talk about what it feels like or how to deal with it? Before you think I'm bragging or full of myself, understand what that really means. I haven't sent any of my work out yet, so there aren't any rejection stories to tell. I'm very, very close, though...and very, very nervous about it.
Then I realized there's more than one kind of rejection and I'm a pro at a certain type. It's a doozy, too, maybe the worst you can experience (check back with me about that after I send out my book and receive that first, "Thanks, but no thanks" form letter). What kind of rejection am I talking about?
Negative self-talk. Or, as I like to call it: The Lies I Tell Myself.
It's one thing for someone else to tell you they don't like or can't use your writing. It's another to tell yourself that what you're writing can't possibly be any good. We all have self doubts (and if you don't, please don't tell me--that's one thing I'd rather believe, even if it isn't true). I'm guessing that some of you may also experience those doubts as that little voice in your head that whispers to you words like:
"What a load of crap. No one's ever going to publish it, let alone want to read it!"
"Trite. Cliched. Boring."
Or my personal favorite:
"What makes you think you can write? You can't do this.
If you're a writer, I suspect you know what I'm talking about. Maybe you call it your "internal editor" or the "little demon" on your shoulder (or maybe you think I should see someone professionally about hearing that little voice).
Silencing that negative voice can be a very hard thing to do. It's insidious and insinuated itself into my thoughts until it was second nature to think negatively. The closer I was getting to sending out my writing, the more my fears and self-doubts fueled that voice. It wasn't until I sat down and tried to figure out why I was having such a hard time reaching my final goal that I realized what I was doing.
I was rejecting myself! The more times I told myself, "You can't do this," the more I began to believe it. Why bother sending my writing out for rejection, when I was doing such an efficient job of rejecting it before it was even written?
Once I'd figured out what I was doing, I became acutely aware of every negative word I was telling myself. I'm learning to stop saying them in my head, which isn't easy, believe me. At the very least, when I hear myself going down the same old negative rathole, I stop and turn the negatives into positives. Now, when I start to say, "You can't," I say instead, "You can." Here's my new positive statement; I've found I only really need this one--it succinctly counters any negative talk my fertile brain can come up with:
"You can do this. You are a writer."
The next time you hear a little voice in your head tell you that "you can't" or anything else remotely negative, be sure and turn it on its head and firmly tell yourself, "Oh yes I can!"