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How to Move Through Rejection

How to Move Through Rejection

Carolyn Edlund | ArtsyShark

Cynthia Morris has been coaching artists, writers and entrepreneurs for over ten years. She is a published author, teacher, speaker, and artist who reignites the fun of the creative journey with her creativity excursions in Europe and the US. Cynthia recently spoke with us about helping artists deal with rejection. Visit her website and blog for more information about how Cynthia helps make the creative process easier and more enjoyable.

AS: You have stated that “If you are getting rejections, take it as an excellent sign.” What do you mean by this?

CM: Rejections mean you’ve arrived at a mature phase of the creative cycle – where you’ve completed work and are sending it into the world. You are trying, you are taking your work to the next level. It means you are taking yourself seriously enough to risk a ‘no’.

Being at this part of the creative cycle is something to celebrate. It’s not easy to complete work, and it can be even more daunting to send it into the world. So even if you’re getting rejected, there’s still empowerment in trying.

AS: Rejection obviously creates a very emotional response – could you discuss your suggestions for dealing with this?

CM: Let’s face it – rejection from anyone can be incredibly painful. I’m not trying to put a positive spin on it and gloss over the awfulness of rejection.

Many artists overthink rejection so much that they are afraid to even create. This is a crime – a theft of art before it is even born. How do we deal with the suffering that comes with hearing no, no, no, time and again? Over the years I have had my share of rejection and coached artists through this painful part of the artist’s journey.

A ‘no’ can trigger a range of emotions, some of them uncomfortable. It will take time to process them, so be patient with yourself. I call this ‘feedback burn’. Like a sunburn, it hurts a lot at first and diminishes over time. Applying aloe vera can help remove the sting of too much sun. Apply these practices to heal from feedback burn:

• Acknowledge your emotions. It’s no good to pretend you’re not affected. It’s all well and good to adopt a positive attitude, but you’re human and you’ll still have to deal with your emotional response.

• Identify your emotions. Write them down.

• Write a rant or lament or whatever you need to release the emotions. Set a timer for ten minutes and let rip without stopping. This is your chance to whine, complain, vent about how unfair it is. Let yourself feel everything and be willing to allow humor in as well.

• If you’re not the writing type, find a friend to talk it over with. Give yourself five minutes to complain, then sort out your feelings from a non-victim place. Your friend can ask you these questions: What do you feel? What does that remind you of? What do you need to feel and release the feedback burn?

Next Page: What insights could an artist gain about themselves and their work through experiencing rejection? →


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