Querying has been an odd mix of confidence-boosting and emotionally draining. In March, I pulled my manuscript out of the querying game to rework it based on agent feedback. It was an emotionally hard but necessary decision. The general consensus was they were intrigued by the setting and concept, but the pages didn’t draw them in as much as they’d hoped.
I don’t regret sending around the last iteration of my mermaid manuscript, because I’ve learned so much from the process already. And now that I’ve already opened the door and taken that first step towards traditional publishing, it’s lit my fighting spirit.
That’s not to say I didn’t lose heart at first. Because I certainly did. Self-doubt, imposter syndrome, and an overall lack of excitement to rewrite and revise landed me in quite the slump.
Whether you are a writer or not, rejection sucks, disappointing news sucks, and getting back on your feet takes some doing. It’s okay to not want to fight at first. And it’s okay to step back and take care of yourself. You need that time to recharge, so that when you do fight back, it’s at full strength and with confidence.
One of my favorite sayings is “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” So don’t.
And here’s how you can fill it back up:
- Get that good cry outta your system. Sometimes you just need a good cry and a pity-party. My husband graciously brought booze and homemade chocolate chip cookies w/ extra chunks to mine. <3
- Seek support from others. Don’t go this alone. Cuddle up with your favorite human or furry animal friend. Vent. Cry. Talk through whatever’s weighing on your mind. Soak up the love and words of encouragement.
- Put down the “pen” and consume other media. Read a steamy romance 😉 Revisit a favorite book. Listen to a podcast. Watch a movie. Binge a TV show. Or, like me, read copious amounts of Star Wars fanfiction for a month and a half straight.
- Move around, get some fresh air. Open a window. Get outside, if you can. Go for a walk. Play yard games. Draw pictures on the sidewalk with chalk. Roll around in the grass (lol, swear I didn’t do this, even though I’m a silly person, but no shame to anyone who does).
- Sleep. You probably need it. If you are anything like me, tiredness makes you extra weepy.
- SEND YOUR WORK BACK TO BETA READERS (possibly different ones than those you worked with before). You need fresh eyes on your work. I dreaded doing this at first. I was so down about my story and reeling from imposter syndrome that I was a nervous wreck waiting for new feedback.
But a friend and fellow writer said this to me:
“But maybe they’ll also be in love with some characters and scenes, maybe notice themes you hadn’t yet seen that you can develop. The editing process can be a mixed bag, but positive encouragement usually is part of it, too!”
And she was right. As the feedback trickled in—thoughtful, insightful, and constructive—I got excited about my story and my characters again. Their feedback motivated and inspired me. Because of my beta readers, I’ve written new scenes and added new material I now can’t imagine doing without. They’ve coaxed out of me a tighter, stronger, and more gripping story overall. I cannot stress enough how valuable that has been.
7. Read your manuscript out loud. Read it out loud to another person if you can. I read mine to my BFF-since-preschool via FaceTime. Not only has it made a task I dreaded and thought terribly lonely and awkward fun, it prompted me to see and catch up with my best friend sooo much more.
While I may yet experience more emotional lows in the days to come, this experience has taught me that I will not give up on this story. And that if I need a break from it all, I can and will recharge and get back on my feet again.
What do you do when you are down in the dumps about disappointing news or rejection?