A story: There was no love lost between playwright George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. Consider the note Shaw once wrote:
“Dear Mr. Churchill,
Enclosed are two tickets to my new play, which opens on Thursday
night. Please come and bring a friend, if you have one.”
“Dear Mr. Shaw:
I am sorry. I have a previous engagement and cannot attend your
opening. However, I will come to the second performance, if there
Just imagine, getting a receiving a smack down and withering critique from Winston Churchill! We may not operate in such heady realms, but as sure as the sun rises, we are going to encounter people who aren’t madly in love with our work. When this happens, let’s remember:
It happens to everyone: Churchill may not have been a fan, but Shaw didn’t put down his pen and neither should we. Even after he was wildly successful, Stephen King had work he submitted rejected by publishers. People thought Thomas Edison was so slow he’d never amount to anything and John Irving’s teachers thought he was either stupid or lazy. People misread us all the time. They don’t understand who we are and what we’re trying to do. What counts is our own belief. So keep going!
It comes with the territory: If you’re not getting rejected a lot, you are probably not out there enough. Anyone who tries to do something tough, whether finding an agent, getting published, or marketing a self-published book, is going to take a lot of flack. So put on your flack jacket and keep going!
It’s feedback — and fuel: One of the best ways to handle naysayers is to view what they tell you as feedback and fuel: Mine it for any nuggets of information you can use to improve your story and use it as fuel to energize and motivate you to prove them wrong. So use what’s useful, lose the rest, keep going!
It helps to help someone else: One of the best ways to feel better about yourself, whatever the situation, is to help someone else. So if you’re taking some heat, turn it into light by sending an encouraging note or article or book to someone else — and keep going!
As my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert* is fond of saying. you can count the number of seeds in an apple, but no one can count the number of apples in a seed — write on!
* Check out Rob’s wonderful Success Hotline (973.743.4690).