When I was young and hungry and the mother of a newborn, I bought a book called “How to Make Money as a Writer.” It sounded like a pretty good idea to me. And it was–the book worked. It’s how I got my start.
But here’s the thing. What it asked me to do was hard. It asked me to make 300 calls per week. Cold calls. To people in the phone book who had never heard of me.
And that is precisely what I did. Out of those 300 calls, I’d get maybe 10 people to agree to meet me. Of those 10 people, I’d get maybe one of them to agree to pay me to write for them. Of that one, about half of them actually treated me with respect and paid their bills.
It sucked. Hard.
It also taught me a lesson that has served me well (and that I’ve had to re-learn over and over again, btw):
Rejection is not the enemy. Fear is the enemy.
If I had let my fear (and trust me, there was plenty of it–I know I seem pretty fearless from the outside, but inside I’m a quivering mess of jello every time I open myself up to rejection) get the best of me, I would never have made those 300 calls. I would never have gotten those 10 meetings. I would never have gotten that half a person per week to pay me for something. And I would not be a professional writer today.
This lesson has served me well throughout my career. I no longer make cold calls (thank all that is holy and good in the world because cold calling is the worst job ever), but my ability to embrace rejection continues to play an important role. I’ve learned to quote my work at a rate that will get “rejected” regularly… and as a result I have better clients who respect me more, and I get paid enough to make my ends meet. In other words, those rejections are what pay my bills.
Now, as I embark on the part of my novel-writing career that involves putting my work in front of people who have the power to accept or reject it, my comfort with rejection is a powerful ally. When you consider that even the most successful of novels can be rejected dozens of times by agents and publishers before finally finding a home, one has to be completely fearless (or at least fake it pretty well) to make it.
And what about you? Can you let go of fear and embrace rejection? You won’t regret it.