For this post we want the grit that means courage and resolve, or strength of character. The definition that is synonymous with bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, strength of will, steel, nerve, fortitude, toughness, determination, and tenacity.
All of that sounds . . . well, amazing. MUCH better than refreshing your inbox for the sixth time in five minutes and then curling into a ball, rocking and staring, because the refresh only brought you another rejection.
(Not that I’ve done that. Haha. LOL. *sobs*)
In all sincerity, enduring all the rejection is HARD. You definitely start to doubt yourself.
Should I have sent those queries? Was the book really ready? I mean, really ready? Am I any good at writing? If I was any good, someone would say ‘yes’, right? Everyone is saying ‘no’. That means I’m not actually any good. Why am I doing this if I’m no good at it? I suck. I should quit. Now. No more writing.
Yep. Been there. Had all of those thoughts. How do you get through the downward spiral? How do you keep hoping, and keep pushing through? Here are five suggestions for things I have found useful to survive three rounds of querying in the last year (all rejections, in case that helps you feel better).
First and foremost, gird your loins with a titanium steel alloy. Do I have loins, or is that like, a uniquely male thing? When one has loins, how exactly are they girded? Whatever, the metaphor sounds cool so it stands. Lock it up. Set up big shields. Iron-plate those walls. Cover your heart in miles of cushy bubble-wrap. Roll into a ball and practice being a small chunk of rock. Mentally prepare yourself. This is going to get rough
Family people would be nice, but let’s face it, non-authors don’t really get it. They get tired of hearing about the querying process quickly. Other querying authors are a great support system. When you are in the depths of the pit, drowning in ‘no’s, covered in ‘no’s, waiting with that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach for more ‘no’s to land, wondering why you wanted to put yourself through this in the first place . . . you will need some sort of ladder already in place to climb back out.
Let’s keep it slightly healthy, though. If alcohol is your mechanism of choice you’ll have cirrhosis before your second round of queries. No, aside from the occasional alcoholic beverage, find something that helps you feel good. Send out some queries and then take a walk, hike, or run. Send out more queries after those are rejected and then do something with your family. Drag out your favorite romcoms and binge watch them. Go get those comfort books you only read when you’re home sick. Treat yourself at the local bakery. Make an Eye of the Tiger mix and blast that sucker in the car. Give yourself something happy to counteract the sad.
I don’t mean this literally. Although something tasteful, Lord of the Rings style, could be neat to insert between you and the computer when you check your inbox. I mean a shield made out of everything you’ve done right. Any awards from writing contests. Good feedback from critique readers. People and places who have said ‘yes’ to you. Collect all of that in one place, digital or physical, and keep it handy. When the downward spiral begins and you’re tempted to chop off your fingers so you can never type a piece of tripe again, open up your shield instead.
Send off those queries and then step back. You noted the date for the agent’s general response time with notifications on your phone calendar and starting that very exact day you will check for replies ALL THE TIME. It will drive you nuts if you leave your email open waiting for replies to come in. You’ll start twitching every time a notification dings. You, like me, will do this anyway at first and that’s okay. After that initial crazy period, give yourself some distance from the process. Sign out of that email. Leave the Internet for a while. Disconnect the wifi if you have to, and get to work writing the next book.
So you can experience the rejection all over again, with a whole new project, in the future.