6. Change Your Perspective on Rejection
Writers are a funny bunch. They can be both overly confident and highly lacking in the self-esteem department. Screenwriters take it to a different level. With the constant rejection in Hollywood, it’s easy to become disgruntled and disillusioned. Screenwriters often have a problem with feedback, becoming overly defensive of their work when a peer or mentor attempts to point out what they felt was lacking in the script. Then when that initial reaction has been acted out, they melt into a soft pile of self-consciousness and despair, thinking that they’re no good.
When they finally pick themselves up and start entering contests and marketing their scripts to the powers that be, they’re met with constant rejection, or worse yet, utter silence, which is even worse than a no. Then they start to glare back at Hollywood in anger and frustration. They spew words in forums and social media about how “Hollywood doesn’t want anything original” and that “Screenwriters should just go make their own films” (easier said than done).
As we said in Screenwriting Wisdom from a Galaxy Far, Far Away, those types of thoughts and reactions only lead to the dark side.
Instead, as the New Year goes on, try to understand that rejection is just part of the game. Every movie star, acclaimed director, and esteemed screenwriter has received more rejection then they’ve ever received acceptance. Screenwriters read the reports of “overnight successes” and don’t understand that there is no such thing. Every “overnight success” story was likely a decade or more in the making, with few exceptions.
Change your perspective on rejection. Use it. Figure out why so many of your peers or mentors are saying X thing about your script. Figure out why you’ve sent out query letters only to “hear” nothing but silence in return. Use rejection to fuel your fire within and if all goes well, in the end, when you’re up at the podium accepting a screenwriting award, be sure not to just thank the people that helped you along the way—thank those hundreds that said “no” because it pissed you off enough to want it even more.
Rejection is not special to you and your situation. Everyone goes through it. It’s a rite of passage and perhaps a cosmic way to filter out those that don’t want it enough. So why let it ruin your day, week, month, or year? Use it. Bask in it. Prove it wrong.