|Being rejected is |
uncomfortable for many people.
Rejection is something that nearly all writers experience at one time or another, with the mere thought of rejection paralyzing many writers to the point that they do not ever attempt to get their work published. Fear of rejection also causes many talented writers to devalue their work and only submit articles and queries to low-paying markets they consider safe, thus depriving themselves of the opportunity to make a living from what they love doing the most.
If any of this sounds familiar, I don’t have to tell you that anxiety over rejection is frequently closely tied to feelings of self-doubt and the belief that both you and your writing do not measure up. It is a never-ending cycle that keeps you from achieving the success you both crave and deserve.
You may have wondered why it is that some people able to handle and overcome rejection, while others find it a constant obstacle that prevents them from reaching their potential as writers.
It may be that writers as a group are generally introverts who have difficulty treating their craft as a business.
What’s your Type?
According to an informal survey conducted by marriage and family therapist Jeannie Campbell, INFJs only make up 1 to 3 percent of the general population while nearly 25 percent of writers identify as INFJs. Other introverted types, particularly INTJs and INFPs, are also over-represented among writers.
INFJs are typically insightful, creative, sincere, dependable, and highly intelligent, yet they are also very introverted and may have trouble with things like negotiating contracts and pay-raises, asking people to hire them, asserting themselves verbally, making cold calls, or conducting interviews – in short, all the skills you need in order to do higher-level freelancing.
Although this has not been studied much, I would not be surprised if the reason so many writers and creative types in general have so much trouble marketing their work is because of their natural tendencies towards privacy and avoidance of conflict.
Personally, I am married to a sales and marketing professional and am often stunned by how easy it is for my husband to pick up the phone, call a complete stranger, and convince him that he needs a particular product or service. This is a skill that all writers need to have in their arsenal, yet very few of us do.
So, what can be done?
Obviously, allowing fear and anxiety to rule your life and determine the outcome of your career is not the best option.
Instead, perhaps what many writers need is a healthy dose of Rejection Therapy.
Rejection Therapy is a game, but it’s based on a very real phenomenon – the idea that you must expose yourself to the things you fear in order to become desensitized to them. For someone who fears flying, that could mean getting on an airplane multiple times until the thought of air-travel no longer invokes dread. For people who fear germs, it might mean working with dirt or garbage without the option of washing the grime from their hands or clothes until the end of the day, after all the work is done. Eventually, it is hoped, they will stop feeling so dirty.
This form of therapy, sometimes called “exposure therapy” or “flooding,” is often used to treat phobias and anxiety disorders.
Jia Jiang, an Austin-based entrepreneur, decided to do his own form of rejection therapy for 100 days and “vlog” the experience.
“I hate being judged and rejected in a business setting, whether it’s being turned down when making a sale, or getting blasted after a pitch. I hate it!” writes Jia on his blog.
Don’t we all?
Watching Jia’s rejection videos over the past few months, I’ve been fascinated by the insights they contain for freelance writers, and I’ll be sharing some of my observations in future posts. In the meantime, think about what makes you uncomfortable about freelancing. Maybe it is talking on the phone, writing a query, or being assertive about your rates.
Could rejection therapy change that for you?