Some of you may recall a post I wrote awhile back about being too critical of your own work. In addition to being a law student, I’m also a professional writer. I’ve learned over the years that “creative fields” can be really tough because judgment of your work is just so subjective.
For many years, I’ve wanted to write screenplays for TV or movies, and get a fiction novel published (I’d take nonfiction too, lol.) Sure, I’ve been published in magazines, but there’s something about seeing your work in a published book or on TV that would just be…different.
Of course, these fields are notoriously tough to break into, sometimes almost impossible. In fact, just the other day I checked my mail and found four contest rejections for one of my screenplays. 😦 I’m not sure which is worse though: four rejections in one day or the day I received a rejection on Thanksgiving. No, I’m not kidding. I got an e-mail on Thanksgiving telling me, basically, “Sorry, we don’t like your proposal! But you still have a lot to be thankful for! Have a great holiday!”
In any profession, it’s vital to develop a thick skin. Take constructive criticism to heart, but don’t let subjective assessments get you down. There will always be people who don’t like what you do. And there will always be people who choose not to like your work because, for some reason, they just don’t like you.
If you’re like me, it’s easy to remember the people who don’t like your work rather than the ones who did. Sure, a Hollywood screenwriter once told me that I had the talent needed to write for primetime TV. But four people running contests just said I didn’t, gosh darn it. 😛
How do you “keep your chin up” when your work is rejected (if you’re a writer) or, for any career, when the road to the goal is a little tougher than you expected? At what point do you decide that maybe the goal isn’t reachable? Ever?
I always remember the authors who were rejected a million times before getting published. Or the frequent stories of people who submitted bestselling novels to agents under unknown names, and found the novels rejected.
Since I love science, I also remember how many “failures” a scientist usually goes through before making an important breakthrough. But, understandably, creative fields are a little different. The rejection is so much more personal. You’re not just trying to “solve a puzzle” that no one else can solve. You’re wondering if your creative work is even good enough.
Or maybe it isn’t so different after all… If a scientist keeps “failing” so to speak, does he eventually wonder if he doesn’t have what it takes to discover the breakthrough?
I’d love to hear from people of all different fields. When you experience a type of failure in your job, do you struggle with your own personal abilities? How do you keep your chin up?
As Thomas Edison once said, “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”