“Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so.” –David Brooks
On New Year’s Eve, my 6th grade daughter discovered she didn’t get a part in the middle school play. We prepared her for this possibility. After all, her older siblings didn’t get in as 6th graders either. But Syd’s disappointment didn’t stop her from reaching her goal. On New Year’s Day, she let her feelings fuel a song that she wrote for the drama teacher.
Sydney’s words and music had the desired effect. She is now a cast member in her middle school play. And I’m flummoxed. Although I’ve always believed in the power of words, I never thought a child of mine would have the gumption to test it. This new year, Sydney inspired me to rethink my reaction to rejection, think outside the box, and approach my goals in a new way.
- Reframe rejection. Rejection hurts! But if we reframe our rejection as a success, and not a failure, then everything changes. Every rejection reminds me that I’m submitting and creating–and that’s an achievement! What if my rejections fueled energy for more submissions and research into better places for my work? What if I celebrated after my 100th rejection this year? What if I took what I learned from my rejections, like Sydney did, and turned them into something beautiful, regardless of the outcome?
- Think outside the box. Writing for kids is all about creativity and original thought. The best ideas always come from connecting two unrelated ideas. Syd’s idea to write a song for another chance, was way outside the box. It may not have worked. She’s lucky that it did. But either way, she created something beautiful. Probably writing a song to an editor to plead the case for my manuscript isn’t the answer, but then again…
- Approach goals differently. Many of my goals exist just so I can mark them off my list. Don’t get me wrong–I want to do them, but there’s no excitement behind them. Sydney’s passion for musical theater helped her make a goal to be in the middle school play, and it helped her reach for that goal even after rejection. As a writer, I must do the same. I need to make writing goals that I’m passionate about and reach for my goal–even after rejection. And if I choose a goal that makes me feel like singing? All the better.
What have you done to improve your writing life?