It’s Not Personal!

For a little tough-love, check out this excellent post, “The No-Moping Zone” by Keith Cronin over at Writer Unboxed.  I don’t want to duplicate his efforts (although I’d love to steal his style – he totally makes me want to use the word “poopyhead” in a post), so I’ll focus on one thing he mentions in passing, and which I say to people all the darn time:

It’s not personal.

We use the term “my baby” to talk about our novel or script or story, but it’s not a real baby.  It’s words on a page.  In fact, it’s probably only even a virtual version of actual paper and ink (which is a good reminder to go print a hard copy right now, just in case, then come back and finish reading.  I’ll wait… Back?  Good.)  Your work doesn’t have feelings, can’t be teased, and won’t be devastated by high school.  Rejection isn’t personal.

Rejecting your work doesn’t mean they’re rejecting you.

When you pitch, it’s not about selling.  Really, honestly, it’s never about selling.  It’s about inviting someone into your story to see if it’s a good fit for them.  If it’s not, you are both better off not getting into business together.  Pitching lets you quickly weed out the 75% of people for whom your work is not right. What a time saver! The remaining 25% may be intrigued enough to give your piece a read, but almost all of those will also not ultimately be interested. That’s okay. You only need one, the right one, someone who will not just publish or produce your work, but champion it.  Every “no” up front saves you time, energy, and disappointment down the line.

It’s. Not. Personal.

But it feels personal because we care so much.  So – and this is hard – we need to care less much.  Yes, you need to be passionate about your work.  You need enthusiasm and drive and professionalism.  You also need to detach from the outcome.  That may not be easy, but it’s necessary.  (Don’t believe me?  Check out the wonderful and sorely-missed Ray Bradbury on the “great blizzard of rejection slips.”)

If anyone has any ideas about how to do that – detach emotionally while still remaining enthusiastic – feel free to share.  For me, having lots of projects going at once helps immensely, possibly because I’m too damn tired to take anything personally.  Other thoughts?


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