The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘rejection

Affirmations-366Days#289: To grow creatively, I choose to face what I fear most and learn from it.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

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Affirmations-366Days#129: Rejection is not a state of being. I learn from my rejections, but keep submitting my writing with enthusiasm.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#53: I create fun rituals to take the sting out of receiving rejection letters for my writing.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Don’t turn away what life wants to give you. A huge connection exists between what you are willing to receive and what you actually get. I call this step “Accept All Compliments” because I have noticed a correlation between people’s unwillingness to receive the simplest things in life, while at the same time having some pretty big expectations. Your ability to receive something as simple as a compliment is significant. It signals loud and clear that you are ready to receive.
Amanda Owen, The Power of Receiving

Affirmations-366Days#17: I receive compliments about my creative work with grace and do not externally or internally refute them.

How good are you at accepting compliments about the creative work you share with the world? Do you push away compliments about your creative work? Do you tell yourself that the person giving you a compliment is ‘only being nice’ or saying these things to you because they couldn’t find ‘the real artist’ that they wanted to talk to? Or, do you say back to them, ‘Oh, it wasn’t my best work, here’s all the things that are wrong with it’? Or, ‘That journal my poem appears in has a pretty tiny readership, so it’s not such a big deal’. If you have been in this situation (as I have on numerous occasions), then you know that the giver of the compliment gives you a funny look when you push away their compliment and often shrugs. And, then an awkward pause ensues. You’ve completely confused them!

If you find yourself perpetually pushing away compliments about your creative projects, then it’s time to unlearn this habit!

Open Hands --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Amanda Owen, author of The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve, has thought a lot about the connection between being able to receive and the ability to manifest one’s goals. She suggests that pushing away compliments and refusing to accept them “sends the message loud and clear that we don’t want to be given to. And life cooperates by being less giving.” Reading her work several years ago helped me realize all the ways that I pushed away my good in not gracefully accepting compliments about my creative writing.

I was such a chronic ‘pusher away’ of compliments that I had to train myself to just say ‘thank you’ and stay quiet for at least 20 seconds before saying anything else. Then, I try to follow-up with: ‘I worked so hard on that piece, I really appreciate your acknowledgement’ (or something like that). If you are a chronic ‘pusher away’, try your version of the above and see how it makes you feel.

I also acknowledge that gender socialization often plays a role in this issue. I have found (as a coach, professor and member of various creative communities), that women more often tend to be dismissive of their talents and/or downplay their accomplishments.

We can practice receiving compliments differently. And, the benefits of receiving compliments about our creative work can make us better receivers in other parts of our lives, too.

To see my 2014 interview with the fabulous Amanda Owen, go here.

For my review of The Power of Receiving, go here.

Open Hands — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

When fears are attended to, it clears the way for clear and simple writing that comes from your heart. Even the briefest attention can melt fear. Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK)

In March, I began a series about spring cleaning for your creative life. There are three steps in the process:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your creative life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful creative life!

Reassessing your physical space is a great place to start because it is visible and you spend a lot of time there. Another thing to reassess during spring cleaning are your ‘patterns of mind’. By this I mean, the habitual ways of thinking and responding to your creative life. I’ve been looking at the pattern of fear.

Fear can show up in so many ways in a creator’s life. We fear to write, draw, and sing badly, we fear rejection, we fear we won’t reach our potential, we often fear the blank page, canvas, music studio, etc. Fear often causes us to procrastinate.

Recently, I noticed that I was procrastinating on contacting an editor of a magazine that I met in January. This editor encouraged me to send him a story of mine. I’ve known for months exactly the story that I want to send him. Sending him my story has been at the top of my to-do list, but I have had some fear around taking action. Ironically, I’m not afraid of getting rejected. I’ve been writing long enough to not be undone by rejection. I know rejection is part of the writing process. What was it then? It was a ‘taking the next step’ fear. Since I’ve met him, he’s not a faceless editor anymore. Sending my work to him because I met him and he was encouraging made it harder, not easier. I know this sounds weird. Fears are far from rational! And, because he wanted me to send it to his assistant, and not through the regular submission process, it triggered a fear of ‘not getting it right’. These twin fears around ‘taking the next step’ and ‘not getting it right/doing it right’ are familiar patterns of mind that I am paying attention to this spring.

To put fear in its place,  this weekend, I set a deadline for myself. I wrote a very nice email to his assistant and sent my story with it while I was also so sending out other submissions for this month. I keep a submission sheet to record where and what I have sent out to contests and journals.

Fears never go completely away, but I’ve now got these two on the run for at least a few more weeks.

Do you have pattern of mind that needs some attending to during spring cleaning?

 

I know…I’ve been away from my blog way too long. I have been “cheating” on this blog by writing occasional blogs at She Writes. She Writes is a great organization devoted to supporting and encouraging women writers. http://www.shewrites.com/profile/MicheleTracyBerger

Below, is a revised version of what I posted on She Writes about coping with rejection and creating rituals. Enjoy!

It’s happened again. I was minding my own business, thinking of myself as a writer, keeping to deadlines and then a rejection letter came in an email. I keep track of where I send pieces but sometimes I forget that something of mine is out floating around in the literary universe. When a rejection email arrives out of the blue it feels like my head has been plunged in cold water. I’ve been writing and submitting long enough to know that rejection is part of the writing process. A very big part of the process. It’s just that I realized that I don’t have a rejection ritual yet. Do you?

For me, rituals are part of my creating process. There’s the way that I sit down with tea or when I turn on the computer or the self-affirming words that I say when I start a piece. I tend to stock up on rituals, go to routines for different aspects of the creative life. But, I haven’t developed one for dealing with rejections. I think I should.

I started thumbing through my writing books-all of which talk about the inevitability of rejection-and was surprised to find that few gave concrete advice or guidance about how to take care of yourself when you get a rejection letter. Most just say that you should immediately write a new query letter and send the manuscript back out–very perfunctory.

If you don’t have Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers, you should. It’s laugh out loud funny, poignant and she makes a lot of analogies about sex, relationships and the writing process. Her take on rejection is that one should write a handwritten thank you note, to the editor, immediately after receiving a rejection. She swears that writing is a type of “spiritual aikido” and helps one stay sane. She also tells a great story about landing a writing assignment after being rejected by an editor over many years. He knew her well through all those nice notes she had sent back to him and gave her work!

I’m in an online writing course with creativity guru SARK (author of many books including Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It). I asked her and the other participants about dealing with rejection. SARK suggested that after getting rejected you write an email *to yourself* from them (whoever has done the rejecting) that you would LIKE to receive. She also liked the idea of sending a nice thank you note—by email—to the editor or agent. She also reminded me of her quote: “If you’re not getting rejected, it means you’re not reaching far enough.”

I like both See’s and SARK’s encouragement to reroute what feels like negative energy back out to the literary universe for transmutation. I can see myself sending a nice email back to the editor thanking them for reading my piece and that I’ll submit again. I’m also intrigued by the idea of sending myself the email I would have really liked to receive.

My writing teacher, Marjorie Hudson (author of the new short story collection Accidental Birds), has encouraged her students to think about rejection as a process. She said that we should all strive for 100 rejections letters; 100 rejection letters is part of developing our chops as writers. When I first heard this, I frankly thought that she was a bit insane and also somewhat smugly thought that I was already up to a 100 rejection letters. As it turns out, I’m only about half way there! This sobered me up and got me back to work. Next time I see her, I’m going to ask what to do when I get to 100? Maybe throw a party?

So, I’m curious, do you have a rejection ritual that helps you? Is it fun and light or dark and melodramatic? Do you keep the rejection letters in a special file or immediately throw them away? How do you navigate the world of rejection?


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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