Monthly Archives: November 2022

Writers, Artists: You Are Not a Failure If Your Work Is Rejected

Vincent van Gogh self portrait pale blues greens, yellow and brownWriters and artists throughout history have feared and hated rejections of their work.

The most coveted goal of writers and artists–the end result and focus of all their education, training, efforts, and hopes–is to see their work published or mounted on display.

Artists and writers are particularly sensitive. When their work goes unaccepted and rejections occur time and again, as often happens in the sometimes cruelly competitive worlds of writers and artists, the emotions they feel are frustration, then discouragement, and then misery.

cartoon of woman crying and hand held up behind her saying NOEach rejection compounds the effects of the previous rejections and can lead writers and artists from heights of blissful optimism to the total disappearance of confidence. Yet without confidence, writers and artists cannot do their work.

This post shows that writers and artists are not failures if their work is rejected. They may be passing through a phase on the way to great success. Or they may find joy and peace of mind in the act of creating without making any effort to sell or publish their creations. They may find satisfaction without an expectation or desire to be published, or they may seek alternatives. Self-publishing is currently very popular, as are blogs and newsletters.

But even for writers and artists whose goal is to have their work published or accepted, rejection does not mean failure.

 

I Read a Post About Rejection

A few days ago I read an article which asked how writers should Sad-faced dog respond when editors reject their work, and there it was, the questions “What is winning? Is winning the only thing that matters? Is getting published the only thing that matters?  Is that the only credential that makes you a significant literary person?”

Having been involved in many intense competitions in sports, in earning a living in bitterly competitive business environments, and in the arts, I have seen that there are more enduring, valuable, and humane ways of finding success than that. I feel that my views can help writers and artists who are trying very hard, but unsuccessfully, to achieve the ultimate goal of having their work accepted

Painting of white book floating above blue water and skyI remember once learning that a publishing house I was interested in submitting to typically received 5,000 unsolicited manuscripts a year. Less than seventy would be published.  What about those thousands of disappointed writers? I’m sure they had worked very hard and had high hopes. But their hopes would be shattered. Are they to conceive of themselves as failures? Are they supposed to give up hope of ever being successful?

I think that there is a healthy response for writers and artists who submit a work and do not have it accepted, an optimistic and hopeful attitude.

 

Other Forms of Winning that Precede Success

If you are a writer or artist, you are not a failure if your work is rejected. You may be winning.

You are winning and not failing when you refuse to let any fear of rejection or any intimidation stop you from submitting your works. (Stung by rejections, some writers and artists grow excessively cautious about showing their work at all. They become paralyzed. Better to be bold and fearless.)

Portrait of William ShakespeareYou are winning and not failing when you are persistent in spite of setbacks, are able to recover quickly, and are resilient.

You are winning when regardless of rejections, your writing and art are now better than ever before, when you are at the peak of your abilities, performing at your personal best.

You are winning and not failing when you make sure that the quality of your work (and your reputation) are always improving.

You are winning and not failing when you are mature and skilled enough to write and paint expertly. (Any person must spend thousands of hours developing an expertise in any art before they should expect to excel in it.)

You are winning when you are motivated and working hard. (Hard work will overcome many problems. Creative people have faith that effort along with talent leads to the best results; they are in love with work.)

You are winning when the work you submit is absolutely finished, polished like a precious jewel, and as high quality as it can be.

The word No, written in white on green, purple, red and other colorful squaresYou are winning and not failing when you are knowledgeable–about the subject, about your craft, about what the client is looking for, about everything you should know. (To creative people ignorance is not bliss.)

You are winning also when you are true to yourself and have integrity (and are not so desperate to be successful that you compromise too much.)

You are winning when the works you produce have many strengths, like many pillars of a temple, and few weaknesses.

 

Still life with a grey/green pitcher, red and green grapes and red pomegranatesThose are the ways you are really winning even during those times when it feels like you are not.

 

 

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Filed under Artists, Failure, Publishing, Rejection, Self-Confidence, Success, Winning

 The Worst and Best Traits of Creative People

Night scene of ridge over water with street lights Whether you find creative people in remote little mountain kingdoms accessible only by mule or in big, modern, cosmopolitan cities, you will discover that they are surprisingly alike. The many traits they share are not all favorable; some are obstacles. Yet those traits–the worst and the best together–prepare creative people for fascinating lives other people look at with admiration and envy.

 

Creative people:

Feel deeply and are gifted. They are people whose ecstasies and traumas will be the raw material for their creations–never to be forgotten, but reflected again and again many times in the works they contribute to the world.

Red-haired, barefoot little girl in a blue dress with a serious expression sitting on a chair and playing a violin May be “overlooked” as school children. Their talents unrecognized, they may have undistinguished elementary and high school careers, only to be recognized for their significant achievements later in life to the surprise of everyone.

Are self-absorbed, concerned first and foremost with themselves, their own wellbeing and state of mind, their projects and their cherished and most private desires, needs, hopes. Their self-absorption can make them overly emotional, temperamental, and difficult. But self-absorption is a necessary feature of a creative personality.

Proud, may react defensively, angrily, bitterly to criticism.

Man wearing a black sweater holding his head in his hands, as if sad or upset Sadly, at times may be too emotionally ill to work, particularly poets and writers who may be victims of the high and inexplicable incidence of debilitating mood disorders affecting them.

Have a strong belief in, respect, and enthusiasm for their art.

Need confidence. Confidence grows exponentially with each success. The most accurate predictor of future success is past success, as “Since I have written a best seller before, I can do it again.”

Are often “seduced” by their art. There is no shortcut to the tremendous amount of experience necessary to become highly skilled in an art. It is hard for someone in the arts not to see their art taking over more and more of their time and possibly becoming their most important activity, finding themselves doing everything for their art.

Are rebellious, bold, and open to new experiences. More daring than the majority of people. Have no fear of risks.

Pianist performing in front of an audience on a stage with a shiny wood floor and a background of blue water behind him Have an insatiable need to establish rapport with and hold an audience–followers, fans to applaud them.  And yet, deprived of an audience, they will still work just as conscientiously.

 

May not seem to be but are competitive, ambitious, prone to envy and jealousy.

Will of necessity bloom late due to the difficulties of becoming established, overcoming a sequence of hurdles, and mastering their chosen art. Late developing, being “behind,” they needn’t despair because they often accelerate and “catch up” quickly after their first successes, often surpassing those who bloomed sooner.

Tend to “live in their heads.”

Consider themselves the best judge of their work, its “foremost authority.”

Are lucky to have the particular creative talents esteemed by society that make them ideal writers, artists, actors, dancers, composers, etc. as if  they are people who have been ordered from a catalogue.

Beige and brown Siamese cat sitting up on a light-colored wooden table and looking at the viewer with intense blue eyes.“Know who they are.” Are marked by a clear, unambiguous sense of identity, as “I am an historical novelist specializing in women’s roles in England during the Victorian era.”

Can be characterized as having heightened perceptions of the drama in the world and the beauty and importance of their art. In time they develop a “novelist’s mind,” or a ”painter’s mind,” or an architect’s, or dramatist’s mind, etc.

Can be perfectionists who are extremely hard on themselves and others (loved ones, associates, subordinates).

Abhor pretense.

Are not driven by the same needs as even the people dearest to them. (That causes conflicts).

Hold sacred their independence (Will fight for it, don’t want to lose it) Hate having their freedom interfered with or restrained.

Are far more self-disciplined in their work than most people in other fields.

Fanciful painting of many red, orange yellow, blue, and green, and white open umbrellas floating in the skyCan be playful, child-like, humorous, silly, fun to be with, and seem younger than their age.

Are committed to the development and refinement of their talents; motivated by “an urge to improve.”

Are exuberant, often boastful, about their achievements.

Love to work, work hard, sometimes harder than seems humanly possible.

Possess extraordinary energy and are excitable.

Must be patient and longsuffering because if they reach high-level mastery and become famous they will have persisted doggedly through thick and thin for years; many “rough spots on the road” appear in a creative person’s career.

Are strengthened by powerful needs to be competent and to be respected.

colorful abstract painting with yellow, red, pink, green blue, black, brown and traces of other colorsBenefit from a rare ability to focus on one object, problem, or task for extended periods without being bored or losing interest. (Facilitates completing “big jobs” like writing novels and painting murals.)

Strive to find “the one true voice” that expresses them vividly and accurately. (Doesn’t happen overnight.)

Generally find more pleasure working alone than working in groups; do not avoid, but relish, solitude.

Must quickly develop a capacity for mature self-criticism, objectivity, and judgment about their work and their abilities

Highly value authenticity, integrity, and sincerity.

large number of small jigsaw puzzle pieces in blue, orange, yellow, green, and brown piled on top of each otherFor survival must become skilled at overcoming obstacles, of which there are many in the arts.

Have a practical problem-solving intelligence; prefer difficult to easy problems.

May show minimal interest in current events, gossip, and politics–not interested in discussing them, “tune them out.”

 

Creative people possess many gifts, many strengths, and many imperfections. As imperfect as anyone else, they nevertheless benefit the world in innumerable ways.

 

© 2022 David J. Rogers

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Filed under Artists, Becoming an Artist, Creativity, Developing Talent, Human Potential and Achievement, energy, Late Blooming, Life of Creators, Persistence, The Nature of Artists, Traits of Creative People, Voice, Writers, Writers' Characteristics