It’s that time of year again. When many film festivals, screenplay competitions, and writing programs announce who’s made it to the next level or even to the final level.
You know this because friends have posted their news, tweeted their excitement, instagrammed their smiley faces. And you’re happy for them. Or you want to be -- really, you do -- but honestly? You just want to poke your eyes out. Not because you’re a masochist, but because you, too, submitted to that same competition/festival/program, and your friend’s exuberance feels nothing like the punch-in-the-gut feeling you received when you opened that form rejection letter.
I could tell you these rejections are what make you a stronger writer. I could regale you with inspirational stories about people who overcame being told no over and over again only to persevere and go on to have phenomenal success (12 publishers turned down J.K. Rowling and her little story about a boy wizard; 30 publishers passed on Stephen King’s iconic, ‘Carrie’; 140 publishers brushed off Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul'). I could, but I won’t because you don't want to hear that right now. You want to stomp and kick and shout, “I'm way more talented than my hack friend!” And you know what? That's okay.
Because rejection sucks.
And it’s okay to not be okay with it.
Be bummed. Be in the misery. Scream. Yell. Cry. Whatever it is you need to do to let that suckage out. My husband calls it wallowing in a good way. I call it feeling your true feelings. Call it whatever you like, just know that it’s normal (and probably healthy) to do.
But here's the thing: only let yourself wallow for 24 hours.
That’s it. Just one day.
Then you need to suck it up and move on… to the next script, the next project, the next competition.
You can do it.
Feel really horrible. Then, be happy for your friend, celebrate their success and most importantly, keep writing. Because next time, it might be you who’s posting/tweeting/instagramming your success while your friend secretly stomps, shouts and calls you a hack.
So go ahead… feel bad.
All my best,
Director of WGA's Showrunner Training Program, creator & Director of the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program, international speaker and a leading expert on entertainment career strategies, Carole Kirschner teaches creative professionals how to navigate the often mystifying landscape of show business. Her book, Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment is a primer on how to break in and move up in the entertainment industry. Through her popular workshops, Carole teaches writers, producers, directors and executives the real world strategies that will help them not just succeed, but thrive.