For many of us, writers especially, rejection can come like a stab through the heart and descent into despair. What if we rewrite that script?
I just heard–yes NPR, of course–about Jason Comely, a Canadian IT guy, who has come up with Rejection Therapy as an antidote to his stifling fear of getting the thumbs down. He’d been left by his wife and the fear of rejection made a virtual recluse of him. NPR’s Invisibilia does a great job with his story, and here is the take-away. Commit to being rejected at least once a day. Eventually, the fear takes a back seat and life gets more interesting.
Jason inspired a following. Jia Jiang launched his own fear-buster of 100 days of rejection. He video-taped and posted the asks. He’s been rejected when he asked a stranger for $100, but in a happy turn of events a Krispy Kreme employee agreed to produce an Olympic symbol made of donuts. He asked to make the in-flight announcement and if he could play soccer in a stranger’s backyard (Yes to both!). His 100th ask was to President Obama (still waiting on that).
I’m feeling inspired by Jason and Jia and their followers. No matter where you are in your writing life–starting, in the middle, or one of the lucky ones at the top of the game, there is possible rejection for you. It’s what you do with it. BTW, you don’t need to be a writer to give rejection therapy a try.
There’s the easy (not really) way. Send out a manuscript every day and watch the form letter e-mails roll back in. We all know how to do that. Get creative, have fun with it. I’m thinking more of things like:
- Ask your fire department if you can do a ride-along for research.
- Write your favorite author and ask if they will blurb your book.
- Ask someone in line if they would “like” you on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter.
- Ask for a feature story in your local paper.
- Ask a Chipotle employee if you can write something for their Cultivating Thought series.
- Ask a stranger if they’d like your autograph.
- Ask a Starbucks barista if you can name a character after her.
- Will your supermarket add an “author” reserved parking spot?
- Recite a favorite poem to the “I’ll be your server” person.
- And yes, ask an agent, editor, publisher to consider your work …
Like Jia Jiang and Jason Comely, you may get a yes somewhere in the mix–but not until you start asking. The theory is that you can take away the sting of rejection by repetition; our hearts will be open to the idea of asking. The possibility of being surprised.
P.s. If Mother Nature can get her plans rejected by a Groundhog, heck we can all do this! Happy GHD to you.