What Writers Learn
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Not true. Words hurt. They sting.
Writers hurt more when they receive a message via text, email or phone that their work is not wanted.What writers learn depends on what they are willing to take away from their experience and apply to their work.
Think of a time when you hoped so much for something. Maybe you waited for a scholarship, and it was awarded to someone else. You wanted to make a switch from waiter to prepping food. You thought you wrote a solid news style article and the piece is rejected.
Every professional or student has lost an opportunity to meet a goal. In a time when the economy speaks for employers and says, “it’s not you, it’s me,” you might feel like the problem is really you.
I spoke with a writer two weeks ago about her work. She began writing five years ago. She was an older woman who had a lot of ideas, history and stories she wished to put to paper. One year ago, she sent a story to a literary magazine and the piece was rejected. She said, “I didn’t want to send it out again.”
In 2010, I sent work to literary magazines and anthologies for the first time in my life. I had written since I could create sentences, and I stared rejection in the face. I’ll admit I cried.
I know what you’re thinking. Rejection extends its unwanted hand from more places than literary magazines, agents or publishers. Freelance organizations, full-time and part-time employers say, “No,” give no reply, or worse, you receive a little hope and then you’re turned down.
Back at square one. No publication. No job. No money to pay the bills.
What You Do
First you stop blaming yourself. You look in the mirror, take a deep breath, and look. I mean seriously look. You say, “I’m going to meet my goals.”
Guess what? You are.
You say, “I’m going to improve ____.” The blank is for whatever you want to improve whether the challenge lies in how you edit, write a cover letter, or write AP-style instead of fluff.
You’re going take on rejection instead of it taking on you. I am not saying we’re building bullet proof word vests. You are going to map out a new plan. Ask yourself questions: What do I need to improve? What are my goals? How can I stand out in little ways?
Words make a difference. The last question could easily become frustrating if I used How can I stand out over other candidates because you begin to beat yourself up in your mind. Think of little ways to make yourself stand out.
You are going to meet your goals. They will require reading, research, and thinking out problems. Through the experience you will grow and know your answer the next time a potential employer or literary agent asks you:
What do you believe makes you stand out?
By Rebecca T. Dickinson