Reject the Fear

Photo by Nathan Wright

Up until a few months ago, I had a terrible phobia of zombies. Yep, that’s right, zombies. Now, I believe in a lot of things–magic, the universe, Big Foot, ghosts, aliens–without having any sightings of them. But zombies? I didn’t believe in them, so why did they scare me so much?

Turns out, after some serious self-reflection, what truly scared me was loss of control. For me, zombies embodied that.

You’re probably thinking, “Okay, crazy lady, how does that tie into the whole rejection thing?”

Well, fellow symbol jotters, I’m glad you asked. What do zombies and rejection have in common?

Both can eat you alive.

Understanding Rejection

Photo by Lightscape

The fear of rejection is a survival tool. Humans are naturally social creatures, but community is how we survived. I use community in this meaning as groups. Back in the days of the earliest humanoids, individuals rarely survived. It took whole groups of people working together to survive the dangers of their world. This tool was evolutionary.

Rejection became painful because of its association with death. There mere thought of it made early humans (and modern humans) more likely to conform than be ostracized and left to their fate.

Rejection and Writer’s Block

There’s nothing like fear to halt your writing. It happens to the best of us. You’ve found yourself on a writing roll. You’re coming up with great scenes, your writing is on point, the words are flowing. Then, just as easily as the writing goes, it stops.

What if someone reads this and hates it? What if all your hard work is for nothing? What if you think it’s great, but it turns out it’s terrible? What if it never inspires anyone? What if…

As I said, it happens to the best of us. I get it all the time. Your favorite writers get it, too. No one is immune.

So, how do you deal with it and not let it stop you in your literary tracks?

Rejection Therapy

Photo by David Brooke Martin

They truly have therapy for everything. If you haven’t noticed by now, I am all about therapy and the positive outcomes it has on your life. This one surprised me but made total sense.

You hear writers talk about desensitization. Desensitization is a process that diminishes the emotional responsiveness to a negative or positive stimulus after repeated exposure to it.

Que my hero, Jia Jiang. Check out his video and his site, which you can find here.

See, what Mr. Jiang did was brilliant. He sought rejection to toughen his skin so that when it happened it wouldn’t hold him back. He asked permission for things that he thought would be a sure no to build up his tolerance.

People came through for him, but in different ways than he expected. Some said yes to his strange requests.

The bottom line here is this: You’re going to get rejected. Consider that the rule rather than the exception, but those exceptions certainly exist. Be a Jiang. Dig deep and face your fears. Figure out what the true meaning of your fears are like I did with the zombie phobia.


Photo by Jaredd Craig

The good news is that publishers aren’t rejecting you, they’re rejecting your manuscript. That’s an important distinction to make because it keeps your spirits high and your ego from getting too hurt.

Now, one more for your ego. Your manuscript isn’t always rejected because of quality (though that can be a reason). It can be for any number of reasons that have little to do with your work. Here are just a few:

  • A publisher could have already published work similar to yours.
  • You could have sent the publisher a type of genre they don’t work with.
  • It could be as simple as the publisher was having a bad day.
  • Your work could have triggered the publishers own emotions in a bad way (their dog recently died and your work is about a dying dog).

Publishers are people, subject to human emotions. That being said, it’s important to check all guidelines for the publisher you’re submitting to. Equally as important: make sure your work is ready for submission. Edit, edit, edit. Have others read it. Read it aloud. We’ll talk more about submission in another post!

What are some of the ways you deal with rejection? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe!

2 thoughts on “Reject the Fear

  1. Very good piece here and surely resonates with many writers. When I write, though, I write for me, no one else. If I choose to share it, it is my gift to others to read. That is how I’ve always seen it. When I published my poetry books as ebooks, I truly didn’t even think about how others would react. It was just a case of, ‘Here it is – enjoy!’. Maybe that’s partly why I’m not a famous well-published author (yet)? As the author, I am the pebble dropped in the stream and the ripples start from me and flow outwards. Some will flow against immovable objects, rocks, and stones, even the bank of the river. Some will reflect back to me and some will flow outwards until their energy is depleted and they become part of the larger stream. But the pebble dropped in the stream knows no fear, it just does what it does, regardless. That’s me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello,

      There is nothing wrong with that way of thinking! Art is a gift to others. I once read that you should never stop producing art because you would deprive the world of what you have to offer. It’s always nice to know that others feel the way you do and that you aren’t alone. Having others resonate with you validates your feelings.




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