Thursday, January 25, 2007

Training your brain not to quit:

This blogpost is inspired by today's post at Magical Musings The post was on how science is discovering that you can rewire your brain in a sense. Most purveyors of positive thinking techniques have known this for a long time. You CAN condition yourself to be an optimist. And you CAN train your brain not to quit.

You can also train your brain to have a positive attitude toward rejection, thereby making it possible for you to keep going through the "no's" until you get to "yes." The first thing to remember is: Rejection is inevitable. This is actually pretty encouraging. It means if you get 50 rejections it doesn't mean you suck. Author Kate Perry stated on a yahoo group recently that she received 70 rejections before she got an agent and 25 rejections after that before her first book sold (and the first book, was actually the third book written since obtaining an agent.)

This is encouraging. What if she had quit on query number 69? Or what if she gave up after the second book? We live in a fast food culture where we want it NOW! Well tough. Publishing doesn't work that way. And actually success in life in general doesn't work that way. This "now" mentality I believe is at least partly responsible for vast groups of people never accomplishing anything, because if it doesn't come fast and easy it must not be "meant to be." To be very blunt, that's crap, and you know it. Name for me ONE successful person in any area of life who begins his story like this: "So this one day I woke up, and on a dare decided to do this really successful thing, and voila, look at me now. It was just meant to be." No one? K, that's what I thought.

Onward...

The following are some positive ways you can deal with rejection when it comes...besides understanding that it's normal:

1. Send a thank you note. No, I'm not insane. Do you know how rare it is for someone to express actual gratitude that someone took the time to consider their work? This suggestion isn't something I just pulled out of my ass either, it comes from Carolyn See, author of "Making a Literary Life." It's a bit of psychic self-defense. Instead of being down, you take the rejection and you lob it back to it's target in the form of a genuine nicely written thank you note. Practice an attitude of gratitude.

2. Before you really get involved in anything else, send out another query. Seriously. One for one. One rejection, one new submission. It keeps things circulating and moving. This is a long enough process as it is to just wait to hear back from everyone before you start sending out more. Don't wait until your first 10 queries come back rejected to send out 10 more. Go one for one.

3. Do something nice for yourself. It's like behavioral conditioning, if you get something nice when you get a rejection, you keep submitting because hey, when you get the rejection instead of jumping off that cliff like you planned, you can buy new shoes. Isn't that so much nicer than the cliff idea? Of course you want the acceptance and you can REALLY celebrate then, but do something nice. Get a manicure, watch a funny movie, buy a new pair of shoes, whatever. Make a list of all the things big and small that you would like to get or do for yourself. Don't make them all monetary, since we don't all have endless pots of money. But make them all something nice. Rejection. Nice thing. Rejection. Nice thing.

4. Finally, be working on something else already. Rejection for one piece is much easier when you have already shifted your attention and psyche to the next project. Start the next project when you send out your first batch of queries (unless you're the type that works simultaneously. Like I'm editing one thing while writing the rough draft of another, by the time I start sending out my queries for this novel, I'll be editing the next one and starting the rough draft of a third one.)

I used many of these techniques when I was submitting short stories and articles. They work. They make you pro-active. They keep you moving. Start training your brain. Try these techniques for your next rejection letter. You're almost kind of looking forward to it now, huh? So, very very twisted. ;)

14 comments:

spyscribbler said...

Isn't that a wonderful thing, that we can change, and that we can take an active part in it?

I'm usually driven by a need to prove to people that I can do it. Naysayers have become inspiring to me, LOL!

Thanks for all the great ideas!

Zoe Winters said...

thanks! Anyone who snubs me is just one more person I get to prove wrong. :)

Edie said...

Great post! I already do some of this. I send thank you notes and I do something nice for myself. Usually in the form of chocolate. *g* And I'm almost always working on something new. :)

And it is true that you can change from a pessimist to an optimist. Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative, you change your thought to a positive. We actually make pathways in our brains with our thoughts. I find all that stuff fascinating.

Zoe Winters said...

heh, maybe i can get myself to worry less. ;)

Rashenbo said...

Yeah... but you know that brain... it's got a mind of its own! :)

Thanks for the great and upbeat post!

Take care.

Zoe Winters said...

hehehe. my brain has a brain? Scary. ;)

Cynthia Eden said...

I love the techniques you've listed, Zoe. All seem like great ideas--my fav has to be the behavioral conditioning one. :-)

Zoe Winters said...

Thanks Cynthia! Cool to see you over here. :)

Michelle said...

Thanks for the link, Zoe :). I've been in a cave this last week, finishing my book. And today, I did finish it, YAY!

Funny, but thank you letters have always opened new doors for me. They are well worth it.

Zoe Winters said...

heh I'm always linking Magical musings. Do you know how to do "trackback" because Edie was trying to explain it to me but I'm a complete moron about these things. :)

And YAY, congrats on finishing!

And yeah, I think thank you notes are wonderfully karmic. :)

Michelle said...

Zoe, I don't know how to do it in blogger, only wordpress, I'm afraid. I think I found a link somewhere once, because someone else asked me the same question, I'll try to dig it out.

Zoe Winters said...

Thanks Michelle!

Michelle said...

Here you go! I found it: a trackback tutorial for Blogger users http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/000597.html.

Zoe Winters said...

awesome! Thank you! :)