If there’s one thing about creative work that’s true no matter what your discipline or where you are in your career, it’s that you have to deal with a lot of rejection. Like, a LOT-lot of rejection. So how do we cope with all of these soul-crushing NOs? Here are a few tips for dealing with rejection to help you stay afloat on the wild, raging, unending sea of NO THANKS that is the life of a creative professional.
1. Make sure to take rejection as personally as possible. Your pitch wasn’t rejected because it wasn’t a good fit for the publication you pitched it to, or because they just bought a similar piece, or because there just wasn’t room for it this week—it was rejected because you are a singularly bad person whom nobody has ever liked and my God, have you seen your hair??? How do you even manage to leave the house? Oh right, you’re a freelancer—you haven’t left the house in days.
2. The only acceptable response to a polite rejection email is one written hastily and from a place of anger. Have you considered the possibility that the editor is an idiot, and that it’s your responsibility to let him know? Don’t hold back—the worse you make them feel about themselves, the more power you’ll have over them. Go low! Nothing warms the heart like the fire from burned bridges.
3. If you’re not eating your feelings, what are you even doing in this game? Food isn’t just for procrastinating with, you know—it’s also for drowning out that voice telling you you’ll never be good enough. A pound or so of raw cookie dough ought to do the trick. Not for nothing is the freelance uniform a pair of drawstring pajama pants!
4. Rub one out, and then spend some time wondering what it is about despair and ennui that makes you a little horny.
5. Do you have kids? Offload your hurt feelings by lashing out at them! After all, if they weren’t constantly interrupting you when you’re trying to work, you probably wouldn’t have gotten rejected in the first place. If you don’t have kids, consider buying a plant and glaring at it until it withers.
6. Your soul can’t be crushed if it doesn’t exist. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that a soul is a professional liability—give yours its walking papers ASAP. If you’re having trouble getting rid of your soul, go spend four or five hours on Twitter.
7. Lie down on your floor and give up. Then remember that there’s nothing else you actually know how to do, and that your floor is very, very dirty, and get up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.
Emily Flake doesn’t just have loads of tips for dealing with rejection, she also knows a lot about awkward hugs—like, an entire book’s worth of information and illustrations. Her new book, That Was Awkward: The Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug is out now. Learn about every type of hug, from side hugs to adult sibling hugs to work retreat hugs, all in one lovely illustrated volume that’s not only funny, but also surprisingly useful.
Are you ready to embrace rejection this year? Join our #Rejection100 group and try to collect 100 rejections in 365 days.