There are writers who wallpaper their offices with rejection slips. There are writers who use such rejections to throw onto the fire to keep themselves warm while they write their next submission. And there are those writers who turn their rejection letters over and use the blank side to start writing something new.
But that’s enough about rejections. What I’m interested in is what you do when something goes well. And I don’t just mean acceptances. Every so often, we may get a nice email, or a comment on social media, that brightens our day. So what do you do with those?
Last week, I had an email from an editor who’d commissioned me to write a piece. Although he’d explained what he wanted, I wasn’t quite sure of how the text should be structured, so I invested some time in analysing the particular slot in the publication. Once I’d done this, I was clearer on what was expected of me. This is what everyone does, isn’t it? Well, from the email I received, it seems not.
“I have to say, after all the faff we’ve had in the past with this slot – it’s been hard work sometimes getting people just to answer us – it was a total breath of fresh air to read the one you’ve sent in. Perfect, just as it is. Utterly delighted.”
Obviously, those words meant a lot to me. They brightened my day immensely. Not only was I pleased I’d done the job right, but I’d clearly made the editor’s job easier too - enough for him to take time out of his busy schedule and tell me, too! I know I bang on about market analysis, but this is why.
Although I don’t paper my office walls with my rejection slips (despite having sufficient to enable me to redecorate on a monthly basis) I do keep a Positivity Notebook - a book where I record any successes and moments to be proud of. It might be an email like this from an editor, a note from a reader who’s found one of my books has motivated them back into their writing, or even a letter on a magazine’s letters page where a reader has written in response to an article I wrote. It can be anything. In fact, the last time an agent got in touch and said he’d enjoyed reading the first three chapters of my novel and asked to see the rest, I wrote it in my positivity notebook.
As writers, we frequently focus on the bad stuff. That’s because it’s easy. but if you make an effort to keep a positivity notebook you’ll find you have the perfect antidote the next time you get those rejection blues.