I have a “writer friend” who has a pretty amazing goal this year: To get at least 100 submission rejections.
That seems like a lot. But what it means is that she’s forced to submit to at least 100 different magazines or editors or contests. Probably more.
There’s one thing she isn’t going to regret — and that’s every time she took a deep breath and hit submit, just in case someone on the other end happened to say, “Yes.”
If you’ve found this blog for the first time, read this post, click away, and never return, at least remember this: You will regret every chance you do not take.
It doesn’t matter how afraid you are, how much confidence you lack, how worried you are about someone not approving of your work.
There is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t at least try.
What do you really have to lose?
What are you truly afraid of?
What’s the worst that could really happen?
Yesterday, I submitted a proposal for a writing opportunity. The cover letter alone took about three hours to write (I also had to put together writing samples, touch up my resume, and all that good stuff).
I spent a lot of time on something that might never (literally, figuratively) pay off. But I couldn’t help but take the chance, because you never know what can happen. You just. Don’t. Know.
I might hear back, but won’t get an interview. Or I’ll get an interview, but still won’t get an offer. Or I’ll just never hear anything at all.
If it doesn’t work out, yeah, I’ll be disappointed.
But I know that if I’d just let the opportunity pass by without at least reaching for it, I’d feel even worse.
In my experience, there’s nothing worse than having to face the regret you feel for not giving something a chance. For not taking a risk.
So many of us worry about disappointment, maybe even humiliation, as if either of those things will abruptly end our careers and prevent us from ever writing again.
Even if all you’re “afraid” of is wasting time on something — which, technically, you aren’t — your anxieties are irrational. You probably already know this. I’m just your resident friendly reminder-er.
I still feel nervous every time I reach out to someone about my writing. You don’t have to get over that feeling or pretend it isn’t there.
But you honestly just have to suck it up and go through with it anyway. If I’d let my doubts stop me from applying from my current job, well, I probably wouldn’t have one. If I hadn’t pushed past my fear of being judged and started a blog, you probably wouldn’t be reading these words right now.
The only way to truly fail is to never bother trying. Sure, you might get rejected and feel pretty awful about it. But it isn’t the end of the world.
And if it seems that way for you, well … maybe the writing life, full of rejections and harsh criticism and long hours spent doing work that’s never seen, just isn’t for you. And that’s OK.
Take a chance. Submit that thing. Reach out to that editor. No matter how terrifying it might seem.
Eventually, it will pay off. And you definitely won’t regret it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.