Learn From Rejection

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Learn From Rejection

Rejection has happened to every writer, director, producer, actor, and actress in the business. Even successful writers and famous stars are sometimes rejected. J.K. Rowling's baby was turned down by many publishers before becoming Harry Potter. What makes you think it won't happen to you?

To submit means running the risk of rejection. Until you run that risk, you won't have a shot at success. The sooner you accept rejection as an unavoidable part of the process, the better.

The good news is that you get to choose how you react to rejection. You can either become depressed and discouraged, or you can decide to learn from rejection. As Hamlet famously said, "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."

Like all writers, Pedro de Alcantara has faced his share of rejection. Below, he shares some of the reactions to rejection he has personally experienced. A few, he admits, are more constructive than others:

• Those jerks. I want to kill them.
• Rejected again! I'm no good. I'll never succeed.
• Rejection? So be it. Tonight I'll give myself a little treat for comfort—sushi and sake, or maybe a stop at the jazz club—and tomorrow is another day.
• Well, the feedback was harsher than necessary, but the reader had a few good points. After I stop hating him I'm going to try another draft.
• This project is good, really good. I haven't found the right production company for it yet, though. I'll have to keep trying.

With time, de Alcantara has learned to optimize the rejection experience:

• A little distance, a little time, a little laughter are all helpful in dealing with most problems.
• In every community there are people who quite enjoy the company of embittered cynics. But you might stand a better chance of success if you're reasonable, attentive, open-minded, and generous to everyone, including people who have rejected your work.
• Keep track of your rejections, as you would of your submissions. First, you don't want to submit the same project to the same people twice. Second, start discerning patterns of feedback. Collective wisdom is usually right. If five producers all make similar points, you might want to listen.
• There's "true rejection" (when a likely production company rejects a likely project) and "false rejection" (when you enter a lottery, such as a competition, and don't place; or when you mistakenly send a romantic comedy to a production company that specializes in Asian martial-arts flicks). It's useful to ponder "true rejection" and learn from it. Let "false rejection" go; it means virtually nothing.



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