Saturday, March 22, 2014

Staying Positive While Treading the Waters of Rejection

By Lacey Gunter

I am currently in the process of querying. As many of you know, this can feel like an act of self initiated torture. Given the odds of success, this description may not be too off base. Unless you are that one in a million, one must be prepared to face rejection and likely a lot of it.

I am not sure who originally coined the phrase (or equation, rather) "Happiness equals reality minus expectations," but applied to this situation, the only sure way to be happy seems to be to expect rejection. On the surface this sounds very pessimistic and counter productive to success. So are we then forced to choose between optimism and happiness?

I would say NO. So then, how do we stay positive while treading the waters of rejection? There are many techniques that can help us do this. Here are a few that I have been using. (Please forgive me if I sound like I am in statistics instructor mode. I am immersed in it a good portion of my time, so it can be difficult to step back out.)

1.Bring the odds to your favor: Rare events, by definition, occur very rarely. So if you only observe a single outcome, you are very unlikely to witness a rare event. But rare is not the same as impossible. Observe many, many, many outcomes and you are much more likely to observe a rare event.  So in writers speak, one can maintain optimism about eventual success, while still recognizing that this particular submission will most likely end in a rejection. Write frequently and submit often and eventually the odds of success are going to be in your favor.  

2. Keep moving forward: When you first try to tread water you feel like you are barely hanging on
and you don't know how to swim. But the more you practice it the stronger you become. Eventually you are strong enough and skilled enough to just swim. Writing and writing well is a skill. Like all skills, the more you practice the better you get. Especially if you take the time and effort to learn from your rejections. If you tread the waters of rejection long enough, you will eventually be strong and skilled enough to swim away down the lane toward success.

3. Be grateful:  As painful as rejection is, I have found more peace and closure when I take the time to tell agents thank you for reviewing and considering my manuscript. They may never take the time to open up my thank you email, but that doesn't really matter. I have already experienced the positive mental and physical health benefits of gratitude and I am emotionally prepared to try again.

These are a few techniques I use to stay positive. I'm sure you have a few we could all benefit from hearing about. Stay positive and just keep treading.


  1. Bloody daughters who does she think she is writing "it is terrible" and posting it, what is terrible the plane going missing, your father in-law having a stroke she could had finished off the comment and not just left it like that

  2. Hi Jo-Anne, could you rephrase your comment without the angry tone to it, please? We moderate the comments, trying to keep them uplifting and positive. I'd like for your opinion to be heard, but without it sounding like you're attacking Mare.

  3. Cary Elwes makes everything better! I like the idea of just giving yourself a time limit to write a short project. I can imagine that it would be a challenge. I wrote my first ever short story recently (around 35

  4. I love this, Mare. This week, I'm stuck with 8000 words of a YA novel I think is cute, but it doesn't have the heart that a couple of projects I want to write do. So I'm debating just shelving this and moving to another of these projects or just writing like crazy for a few weeks to get it out and then move on to another project. Tough decision, but not really a big one. I'm glad to have a luxury problem like this in my life right now!

  5. #5 made me laugh.

    I love the photo.

    Thank you for this perfect reminder.


  6. Yes the missing plane is a worry to all I would hate to be one of the family members waiting for news.

    So sorry to hear about your father in-law a stroke can be terrible but some people recover from one very well, my mother did she had a stroke when she was 39 and today at 74 you wouldn't know she ever had one.

    I also don't mind doing the laundry except when it is really hot outside and I come in dripping in sweat.

    My sister has thumbs that work even though they look more like big



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