Life Coach Magazine

Rejection Doesn’t Make You a Loser

By Writerinterrupted @writerinterrupt

From the Archives and worth a revisit!

Rejection Doesn’t Make You a Loser
Every year emotions run high after the Genesis contest results are discovered. I’ve experienced the disappointment of not finaling and hard critiques and want to offer you hope and encouragement through my story.

I never finaled in the Genesis or any other contest, unless you count the time I entered in two different categories and made the top ten. Don’t get too impressed. There were only a little over a dozen entrants in each category and I didn’t win either category!

But I’m not a quitter, so the following year I entered again. I tried not to get too hopeful, but it bubbled until those dreaded results screamed YOU’RE A LOSER because you didn’t final.

Then the scores came back.

While most of the judges gave me great scores confirming my brilliance, there was one critiquer that showed no mercy. Of course, that one critiquer didn’t know what she was talking about and killed my chance of finaling!  But after the initial pain and disappointment wore off, it was that one critiquer that helped me grow as a writer.

So I honed my craft again, entered the next year, waited, hoped, prayed…failed! Same low ball score blew my chance again, but gave great comments.

Notice a pattern here?

The next year I didn’t plan on entering until a multi-published, award winning author friend encouraged me to do so. It was a different story in a different genre, and well, she knew what she was talking about, right?

Wrong!

Didn’t final!

Failed again!

Between contest failures I got my agent and champion Chip MacGregor who cared more about my writing and voice than my contest scores.

And my first novella came out January 2012.

If the rejection is overwhelming right now, take heart and press on. It is not the end to your writing career. Here are some thing that might help ease the pain and help put things into perspective.

Let Yourself Feel
It’s okay to feel sad, depressed or angry about a rejection or a contest loss. Just don’t wallow in it. I learned the hard way that before I read a rejection letter I should lock myself in a room for a while. Though I always think I can handle the rejection, my disappointment manifests in my shortness and lack of patience with my family. I never intend to take out my pain on those around me, it just happens. I also learned that when I allow myself time to grieve, then I am better able to handle life around me.

Check Your Motives for Entering
If you’re only in it for the glory of an award, you need a reality check. Only ONE person can win and while finaling is an honor, no one really remembers the runners up, unless you keep it in your signature line! Enter contests with an open mind and heart. When the scores come back, listen to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then figure out how you can improve your craft. You just might get the most help from the lowest scoring judge!

Contest Judges are Subjective
Entering contests is a crap shoot. You might be the best writer in your critique group, but because you got a judge that was more strict or savoy on the writing rules, had a bad day before she sat down to judge your entry, or was turned off by something in your story that had nothing to do with your craft, you could get a low score. And not final. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer and will never get published.

Bottom line is that while some judges might think you’re brilliant, others might wonder why you even entered. Judges are subjective and you can’t base your writing and self worth solely on test scores, but be open to listening to all comments. If you receive consistent low score with all judges, then it’s a good idea to take a closer look at how you can improve your writing.

Be Kind and Gracious to Judges
I admit, I’m a tough judge. But I’m also thorough in my commenting. My goal is to be fair and  help writers grow in their craft, not be easy on them. Judges work hard and you may not agree with their evaluation, but you should be kind and send thank yous if it is permitted.

Don’t Air Your Complaints!
I once judged a contest where a disgruntled entrant who didn’t final complained to my contest coordinator that her submission had finaled in other contests and that the judge (me) didn’t know what she was talking about. The contest coordinator reviewed my critiqued and agreed with my findings!

This bitter attitude did not portray the writer in a positive light, and I’m sure when she calmed her emotions down, she regretted her actions. Don’t make the mistake of voicing your negative thoughts in public. In the end you will only look bad.

So are you a failure if you didn’t final in the Genesis contest or any other contest? NO! Finaling is a wonderful validation of your hard work and skill, but not finaling doesn’t mean you didn’t deserve to final or that you should quit writing all together. And it’s not a prerequisite to publication!

Many published writers have been where you are now. We know the disappointment, the negative emotions, and internal dialog bouncing around your head. Allow yourself to feel and grieve and maybe even avoid all those congratulation posts on the internet, then after the disappointment eases a bit, get right back in the game, celebrate with your friends who finaled, and grow in your craft.

Who knows, not finaling may just be the best thing for you and your writing!

What are YOUR contest experiences and how do YOU handle rejection?


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