Take heart; you’re not alone. Many of us have a fear of rejection.
If you were to ask any cross-section of writers what they most feared when it came to their work, they would probably say they feared rejection.
This shouldn’t surprise you. From the person afraid to ask someone for a date to the employee who dreads asking for a raise, rejection is a universal fear. It seems that the more we want something good to happen, the more we fear its opposite.
Writers Give Their Hearts to Their Work
Whether they write fiction or non-fiction, writers put themselves into their works. When they introduce their books to the public, they feel that they are exposing not only their writing but their beings to judge.
And I wish I could say it isn’t so, but people will judge. They will criticize. Some will not be very nice about it.
This blog is not about how you can make people change and be nice to you about your writing. It can, however, help you deal with reality.
Don’t Let Future Criticism Stop You From Writing
This is perhaps the worst thing that happens to would-be writers. Either they never write at all or they don’t finish. While these behaviors can have various causes, the fear of criticism ranks high.
Ways to Deal With Judgment
Remember that the book is not you. This is crucial. Someone who judges your book is not judging you. He or she doesn’t know you and probably never will.
Many writers say that the best antidote to this fear of judgment is to write more. In some ways, motherhood provides an analogy that explains why this works.
A first-time mother is afraid of doing the wrong thing. She consults various experts; she may be frequently nervous. She has a precious little bundle of joy, and if anything goes wrong with it, this will be her fault.
Usually, thank goodness, that first baby survives and thrives. She is much more calm with the second, and if she goes on to have a third and fourth, she is downright casual. She has too much to do to worry about little things.
If you have only one book, you may feel very emotionally connected to it. As you build a solid collection of work, you feel internally stronger. Your reputation isn’t hanging on one book. In blunt terms, you don’t have one target out there available for criticism. Even haters have to divide their attention.
Accentuate the positive. This is well-worn advice, but that doesn’t make it less true. I often see in online writers’ groups posts by authors who are devastated because they got their first one-star reviews.
They never mention how many positive reviews they got. They are exclusively focused on that idiot who probably didn’t even read their book, and why doesn’t Amazon do something about it? And maybe they’ll never write again because they feel so crushed.
I wish I could say this is a gross exaggeration. It is not. However, it does illustrate my point. What if these authors had dozens of positive reviews? I would advise them to go back and read them, no, more than read them, immerse themselves in them, read them out loud.
Print them out and put them on their desks. Appreciate them.
Be Part of a Writing Community to get Over Fear of Rejection.
Even though you will see remarks like the one I describe above, you will also see comments by people who encourage each other to get over the discouragement that negative reviews and other setbacks (real or imagined) can engender.
You need and deserve that encouragement. Don’t go it alone. Writing is a solitary career, and all humans need community and support. It has never been more available.
- Your book is not you.
- Focus on your successes.
- Reach out for support.
These three behaviors can help to move you beyond the fear of rejection.
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