By Jennifer Blanchard
Fear of success and fear of failure are only two out of the four main things procrastinators fear. The third fear is fear of rejection.
A fear of rejection is an outcome of low self esteem and/or lack of confidence in yourself and your writing. A fear of rejection makes you feel like everyone in the world is a better writer than you are.
So where does fear of rejection come from?
“As a child this fear may have developed within you when your parents constantly compared you with others with the intention that this might drive you to do best in life,” according to the article, Do You Suffer From Fear of Rejection? “How hard you worked couldn’t satisfy others and thus you developed the feeling that you can never be better than this.”
Many writers suffer from fear of rejection. They believe no one will ever accept their work and they will be rejected by everyone in the writing world–publishers, editors, other authors and, especially, readers.
Here are some signs you fear rejection:
- You never assert yourself or stand up for yourself
- You lack the courage to send your writing out into the world
- You lack the courage to allow anyone to read your writing
- You never speak up when you have ideas, suggestions, advice, etc
- You don’t believe in yourself or your writing
- You don’t take any (or you take very few) risks
- You think every writer in the world is a better writer than you are
- You never even attempt to go after your dreams
If you see these signs in yourself, you may have a fear of rejection. For more information, or to see other examples of what fear of rejection looks like, read:
Being rejected can be a scary thing. Rejection affirms that there is someone out there who doesn’t like your writing.
What you have to remember, though, is that when your writing is rejected, the only thing being rejected is your writing.
So many times writers see rejection as a rejection of themselves, and that’s when they lose the courage to submit their work or, in some cases, to continue writing.
What you need to understand is a rejection of your writing is NOT a rejection of you. It is ONLY a rejection of your writing.
And just because your writing was rejected, that doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. All writers get rejected at some point in their careers. It’s the writers who learn to use rejection as fuel to become a better writer and keep putting themselves out there that eventually succeed.
Stephen King is a great example of this. In his book, On Writing, he talks about how he used to collect all his rejection letters and pin them to the ceiling in his bedroom.
If you make it your business to see rejection as an opportunity to better yourself and keep on trying, it’s a lot less frightening.
Plus, it’s better to have a ton of rejection letters and know that you’re actually attempting your writing dreams than it is to have none because you were never brave enough to try.
- Accept that rejection is part of being a writer–Once you can accept this thought, you will be able to overcome your fear of being rejected. Just keep in mind that all the greats were rejected at one point or another, too.
- Collect rejections–As I mentioned above, Stephen King hung his rejection letters from his bedroom ceiling and kept on submitting his writing. If you accept that rejection is just part of being a writer, you can then play the rejection game. What that means is, collect rejections. Instead of getting a rejection letter and thinking, “Ugh, not another rejection letter…” think “Yes! Another rejection letter!”
- Keep all your rejection letters together–Or if you’re brave enough, post them all somewhere you can see them. Then anytime you look at them, see them as proof that you’re brave, courageous and a risk taker. See them as a reminder that you are going after your dreams and that you are putting yourself out there in a big way.
- Have someone say “no” to you over and over again–I know this sounds silly, but I once did a program where I learned how to get over rejection. We did this exercise where we turned to the person next to us and rejected them over and over and over again until we were all totally bored and over our fear of being rejected.Once you’ve been rejected a 100 times, it doesn’t feel so bad when you get rejected 101 times.
- Keep sending your writing out; keep showing your writing to others–The last thing you want to do is let your fear of rejection get the best of you. So keep writing, keep submitting your writing, keep showing your writing to people. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.