We have all been there. You think you’re a shoe in for the job, but you don’t even get a call back. You send out the best query letter of your life, but the agent just sends back a form rejection. You get a book deal, only to have the publisher back out.
The common advice is “just keep going.” Just try again. But when you’ve just sent out your book baby, the creative spawn of your heart and soul, that rejection can be absolutely soul crushing. Add mental health issues on top of it, and a single rejection–let alone 40 or 50 of them–can feel like an insurmountable obstacle.
The following ideas all come from writers with mental illness. While they are geared toward writing specifically, most of them can be adapted to other areas you might face rejection.
- Don’t give yourself a chance to back down. Send out another query right away.
- Be proactive. If you’ve sent out 10 queries and haven’t gotten any responses/only form rejections, revise the query. Join a critique group to find out what you can improve.
- Take a step back. Give yourself permission to relax and do something you enjoy for an hour or two, then get back to it.
- Don’t edit as you write. Plow straight through that first draft and save the revisions for later.
- Remember, it’s not the end of the world.
- You are worthwhile. One rejection (or even a hundred) won’t change that.
- Get a revision buddy. Swap manuscripts when you hear that little voice saying “Oh my god, this entire this awful. I just wrote 80,000 words of pure shit.” Perspective helps.
When it comes to mental illness, negative thoughts seem so much stronger than the good ones. Things that are meant as encouragement feel like platitudes or pity; it’s easy to fall prey to impostor syndrome (the feeling that you aren’t a “real” writer) or feelings of defeat or negativity. Trust me, I know this voice very well. I know how hard it is to ignore, but you have to. Don’t let that voice tell you what to do.
Link of the month: Tips for Writing with Depression
Mental Health Mondays (#MHMon) is a monthly blog series about creativity and mental health. If you would like to participate in the conversation, check the #MHMon tag on twitter, or click the tab at the top of the page to find out how you can submit a guest post to the blog.