Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Danger of Self-Rejection (And Tricks on How to Battle it)

By Royaline Sing, @RoyalineSing

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: Sometimes, writers can be their own worst enemy. Royaline Sing shares her story of self-rejection, and how she overcame it to achieve her dream of publication.

Royaline’s first fiction work was a notebook length movie script, featuring her favorite stars. She was probably ten. It hasn't seen the light of the day (And it won't). But storytelling lingered. Now, she writes through the noise of lovely two kids, a very supportive (but sweetly clueless) husband and a bank job where numbers rule.

Born and brought up in India, she’s a huge fan of Bollywood romantic movies and likes all things Marvel. She loves to travel and has so many destinations on her bucket list: Scotland, London, Agra, you get the picture.

She writes Historical Romances, with heroines setting their own norms and coming to toes with heroes worth loving.

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Take it away Royaline…
Joyce Carol Oates once said, “The great enemy of writing is interruption.”

How right she is.

Even before I put pen to paper (or my fingers on the laptop) my first thought was, I can't write this. Once I did write a scene, I thought, no way I can finish the novel. That's for the professionals.

Did the worry stop? Nope.

No way I can show this to anyone. Who would read it?

No way I can edit it. What's the point?

Then came querying, he Bhagwan, that dreadful querying! Why torture myself with that soul-sucking process? I will be rejected anyway.

Self-publishing? It sounds daunting. I absolutely cannot do it.

Every step of the way, I found a way to self-reject. Ironic, since every writer has a world-changing story in their work, dramatically rising, powerful, full of emotions. But they hesitate to bring their own creation to light.

I'll insist you not do this.

But how? Know why you're self-rejecting in the first place.

You have no support system.

Many times, our dreams take a backseat and we defend it by a 'what's the point anyway' justification. This stems from a lack of a support system rather than a lack of confidence. You're already confident since you put your work on paper. Poured it out of your heart, your soul. But there's no one around who says… "Do it! If it makes you happy, go ahead, publish it."

One person is all it takes to support you. It could be your family, friend, even your pet! (Don't underestimate them.). Find your people; the writing community is amazing!

If you have no one around… be your own support system. Appreciate your dream. Give it the same importance as you would to the important things in life.

(Here’s more with Behind the Block: Overcoming Fear to Write)

Sometimes (fine, most of the time) the reason is pure fear.

A creative soul is a sensitive soul. It bruises easily. It lives in the kingdom of King impostor syndrome. So we don't want to hurt our hearts. (Who does?)

But… by self-rejecting, you are hurting your heart anyway. A creative soul craves recognition. Not of the industry per se, but of one other soul who would appreciate the art they created. I had a singer mentor for my amateur singing events during the years. He used to say, we are artists. All we need is a stage, a mic, and that one clapper in the audience.

Just one.

If you self-reject, your heart would keep craving that one in the audience and wither away. Isn't it better to take the risk? (My romance genre showing up here.)

Allow yourself to take a chance. Allow yourself to fail, but after making an attempt; don't reject the opportunity beforehand.

Train your mind to live and breathe the mantra of 'why not?'. (I suggest a sticker on the wall. Hey, it works!)

Imagine ten years from now: if you look back, would you regret not sending that manuscript out to a critique partner? Would you regret not sending a query letter? Or not jumping into the Indie publishing world? If your imagination does not like your future version, remind your today's self that it needs to act.

But what if the critique partner doesn't like what I wrote? Or doesn't have any helpful feedback?

You'll never know if you don't try.

What if agents reject me, or worse, never respond back?

You'll never know if you don't try.

What if I can't figure out all the gears of self-publishing and something goes wrong?

You'll never know if you don't try.

What if, what if.

Remind yourself, you do want your dream. Take the chance.

(Here’s more with Battling the Doubt Monster: Ignoring Nellie the Naysayer)

Here are some tricks to overcome self-rejection that worked for me:

Make a list of what you want to do, but you have convinced yourself you don't want to do (what have you self-rejected). Isolate what would make you happier in your writing journey. For every task that you take a chance on, no matter whether you receive success or not, pat your back for trying it.

Yes, just for trying it.

I made a list of contests and stared at it for hours. After a few months, my brain recognized them as my next of kin. (ok, an exaggeration of course, but you get the picture). I was so familiar that it was less intimidating to enter those contests.

Put your dream in plain sight. The sticker I talked about? Yes. Add a 'Just Do It' version of your sticker on your wall.

Think of what you’d do AFTER you've taken a plunge. I couldn't bring myself to submit to particular agents. I made a list, stared at it, daily read my sticker, and then pictured myself hiding under my bed if I ever sent that query. I pictured myself doing that so many times, that finally I got used to it.

My brain thought, ok, that's the worst I'll feel once I send the query.

I kind of did hide under my bed each day when I queried my dream agents.

It helps. It will brainwash you.

And once you do it, you get ready for the next steps, even if they're bad feedback, good feedback, rejections, requests, success, failure.

A writer's journey is filled with it anyway.

Remind yourself again, you do want your dream. You are worth it. There is tons of advice from great people on how to handle rejections as well.

If failure darkens your mood, take some time to yourself. Read that happy romance book, watch a silly movie, spend time outdoors or with your loved ones. After that, get back into 'try again' mode.

If success comes knocking? Hurray. Celebrate! Have that chocolate, take a long nap, or dance around all over the place if you want.

Then encourage yourself to try the next task. And the next. And the next.

See the pattern? Yes. Some call it perseverance, too.

(Here’s more with Psychological Trump Cards That Cripple Us)

My story. Yes. I made a list. I heard back from the CPs and was determined to look at the good parts (constructive feedback). I almost never entered the contests due to the fear of judgment. But then I trained myself with some of the above tricks and literally entered a dozen, promptly distracting myself in something else the minute after. I received some excellent feedback, which is what I forced myself to focus on.

Then I won a contest. I almost didn't submit my manuscript to the editor (the prize). My mind was like… I am a nobody! Why would they want my book?

I almost didn't query my dream agents. It was a fantasy, the dream agents. And then one day, trying to ignore the stomach-churning anxiety, I took the plunge. I queried them all. It paid off. Not only the editor offered for my book, but I was also able to sign with the fabulous Sara Megibow both in the same month.

This happened in the worst time for all of us. Yes. The 2020.

Parting note?

You are brave, you are your own support, and you are not alone.

Dare the world to reject you if they will. Never reject yourself.

If you would like more details on my successful query and the path to publication, here is my post.

About Betting on a Duke’s Heart

Aetius White, the Duke of Saxton, couldn't save his father, but he'll be damned if he won't save the man’s dream. He'll acquire a Triple Crown–winning horse at any cost, even marriage. Luckily, the lovely lady in mind loves challenges as much as he. Certainly he can win her heart without losing his own…

Hell will freeze over before Miss Dina Campbell agrees to marry a horse-mad man who wants her dowry of a prize stallion, no matter what her father wants. The duke may be handsome, but he’ll have to prove he is a suitable match for her before she’ll even consider the offer. And there’s no way this love-averse man will ever succeed with the wager that she has planned…

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