On Being More Creative When You’re Afraid of Rejection

Rejection is just part of the package.

One of my greatest writing weaknesses is thinking outside the box. Sometimes I see headlines or read articles and think, “Wow, I never would have thought of looking at this with that angle.”

You might have these thoughts, too. But it’s not because you don’t know what you’re doing — you’re not terrible at what you do. It’s quite possible that you, like me, aren’t as creative as you could be because of the possibility of rejection.

If you don’t take constructive criticism well, if you shake off every idea that seems “too out there,” if you get nervous sharing your ideas in front of other people, first of all, you’re definitely not alone. Second of all, it makes total sense that showcasing your creativity is harder for you than it seems for other people. That doesn’t make you “weak” — it’s simply one small weakness you — many of us — can work to improve.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself in the past two months, working with a team of writers instead of just writing on my own, is that I’m constantly second-guessing myself. Every idea I bring to a pitch meeting, I hover over for days beforehand. Sometimes ideas I think will be great turn out not to work; sometimes the ideas I think will fall through are the ones picked up.

What does that mean? It means you, we, need to learn to separate creative anxiety from the idea. Go with your gut. It doesn’t matter if something gets a “nope” stamp. That’s how we learn what works and what doesn’t. Do you know how many topic series I’ve tried to start on this blog only to watch them fail miserably? That’s how I learned that in this case specifically, series don’t work and it’s not worth countless hours of time to put them together. I’m able to put my energy into other things knowing it’s a waste of time trying something that doesn’t work.

Rejection, in the writing world, is not personal. Usually. Unless you’re a complete monster, an editor isn’t going to say no to your story or book because they don’t like you. Always remember that your ideas are not a reflection of how “good” you are at what you do. We all come up with terrible ideas. We just don’t know they’re terrible until after the fact. That’s how all this works. You try. You crash and burn (sometimes). You get back up. You try something else, or you try something similar a different way. Writing wouldn’t be what it is if growth wasn’t involved. You can’t survive here if you aren’t willing to grow.

I’m going to try my very hardest to let myself be more creative, to run with more ideas that seem like they won’t work. I hope you will, too. It takes a little bravery, and the realization that you’re going to spend a lot of time failing, but in the end, we’re all going to have a lot more fun trying to be the absolute best creatives we can be.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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