I’m a Loser, Baby, So Why Don’t You Kill Me?
by Leesa Dean
Ok. A lot to write about so I’m holding off writing about Rollo till next week cause this is more important. I got a fairly big response to last week’s post about developing a thick skin. A few people actually wrote in saying how they were scared to move forward with projects for a lot of the reasons I addressed.
Coincidentally, a few days ago TVWriter, a great site that has TONS of resources/articles/competitions for people interested in writing for TV (and yes, they’ve been a huge supporter of Chilltown), had a link to an article in Inc. magazine that addressed another aspect of it: the very real fear of failure, especially when you’re starting out and things are rough and you are, in fact, failing. One of the things that really hit home for me was identifying so much with your work, any rejection or failure is a rejection of you personally.
I had to get over that. Quickly. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had some minor success (so far) as a creative. But I’ve had WAY more rejection. Everybody goes through it. It’s tough to take. And it’s way worse when you look at rejection as a personal indictment. That all you are is your work and if your work is rejected, you’re nothing. With all the rejection you go through as a creative person, believe me, taking things that personally is a one way ticket to Bellevue where the only plus is you’ll be too depressed to complain about the lousy hospital food.
I did a few things to move past identifying that much with my work:
1) Tried to get more balance in my life. There’s work. And there’s life. Admittedly, that’s tough to do when you’re starting out and spending most waking hours working on a project. But it’s necessary. It helps to take the edge off. I threw myself into playing tennis. Unfortunately for me, I partially suck at it, but I tend to play with other people who are “working on their game” so we all commiserate about our crappy serves. Most importantly, I never discuss or even think about work when I’m playing.
2) Always have a ton of irons in the fire. That way, if one thing you’re working on gets rejected, it’s just one rejection of one project. It helps to put things in perspective. Of course if every project you’re doing gets constantly rejected, I strongly suggest taking pharmaceuticals. At that point, it actually might help your writing.
3) Don’t tell people about your rejections. Why go through the emotional blow-by-blow? It’s not healing. It just makes you feel worse. And people tend to say (sometimes) well-intentioned cliches to help you “feel better” which have always made me feel like a big fat loser. If I hear, “One day you’ll look back at this and laugh” one more time, I will probably spontaneously combust.
I’ll end with this: A successful businessman told me that back when he was struggling, he taped a page with the word “no” written 100 times on his wall. Ten rows of ten “no’s.” In the middle of the second to last row, he wrote the word “yes.” Underneath it said, “Thank you for that ‘no.’ It just brought me one step closer to ‘yes.’”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yo, Leesa, thanks for the shout-out! See ya around!