Tuesday Writing Tip – Coping With Creative Disappointment

Artistic disappointment

Every time we submit a piece of writing or artwork to be read or judged, we’re putting a very personal piece of ourselves ‘out there’ so it’s inevitable that this will sometimes lead to disappointment.

Last week the CBCA shortlists and notables were announced so for some authors and illustrators these feelings of hurt and possibly sadness will be particularly acute at the moment.

As usual there was some discussion after the announcements about the fabulous books that had missed out. And it’s inevitable that some great books won’t make the list because the judges are people, and their decisions must be affected by things like mood, personal circumstances and preferences – all things that a book creator has no control over.

I didn’t have anything entered in this year’s awards but I have friends who triumphed and some who weren’t mentioned on the lists – and for those people, I felt the disappointment.

Between awards, negative reviews and rejections, it’s no wonder that creative people go through emotional slumps, crises of confidence and disappointment.

10 Tips to Help You Cope With Creative Disappointment

So how do you work through these times and come out the other end stronger and with a greater desire than ever to get your work out there?

1.  Don’t take rejections or disappointments personally. They are not a rejection of YOU, they are a response to ONE particular piece of work – often just one person’s opinion.

2. Try to be analytical about any feedback or suggestions that come with the rejection. Do you think they will make your work better or will they take your work in a direction that doesn’t fit with your vision for the work? If so, you don’t have to take them on board.

3.  Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself time to come to terms with the disappointment. You are allowed to be disappointed. Be sad, but be determined not to let this stop you from creating. It might be that what you have created isn’t right for the market just now, but it could be a bestseller in the future – or in another form – or even another country.

4.  Keep creating. Channel that disappointment into something new – a project that excites you. Allow the disappointment to motivate you and spur you on.

5.  Eat chocolate – this is a great temporary fix:) Or do something else that makes you happy.

Close-up of Chocolate

6.  Don’t dwell on it – don’t look at every Facebook post and Twitter post about the awards and stew.  If it makes you angry to read posts about an award you missed out on or an author who succeeded with a publisher who rejected you, then don’t read them. Stay away from Facebook and Twitter until you stop feeling like this. Dwelling on disappointments can stifle your creativity and just make you more unhappy.

7. Vent and move on. Discuss your disappointment with trusted fellow creators. It’s absolutely normal to feel disappointment. Empathy for your situation can help you feel better, but don’t overdo it or it could make you feel worse. Vent then move on to new projects that excite you.

8.  If you don’t have a new project in mind – read and read until you find a book that is so wonderful it inspires you to pick up your pen, computer, paintbrush or drawing tablet again.

9.  Do something that makes you feel good about yourself. It might be creative, it might be something totally unrelated like volunteering to read to children who don’t have anyone to read to them. When you see how much pleasure they get from books, it might inspire you to go back and create them.

10.  Be happy for the people who were on the awards list. Consider that they have probably worked just as hard as you and are no less deserving. Be optimistic that your turn will come.

How do you cope with disappointment?

If you have any tips please feel free to share them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)



6 thoughts on “Tuesday Writing Tip – Coping With Creative Disappointment

  1. Most sage advice Dee. I especially enjoyed the exaggerated enlarged chocky pic. Are we supposed to eat that much in one go to salve the damaged soul?! I have taken to accepting (not in a negative way) defeat even before the fat lady has finished singing. In other words, once the thing is sent and said and done and in the hands of fate, I move on to the next project with renewed vigour. If fate rewards me for the past effort – tremendous, if not there’s always something else to submit…or there should be. Falling in love with one piece of work is akin to having all you eggs in one basket. And they may not all hatch.

  2. Dimity,

    In times of disappointment, you can never have too much chocky:) I know exactly what you mean. It’s definitely better to focus on a new project and try not to dwell on the fate of a piece that’s out on submission.

    I hope all your writing projects are progressing well:)


  3. All great advice! I especially liked the point you made about getting inspired and moving onto another project–that’s what always helps me out with disappointment, because I can tell myself that whatever piece has been rejected isn’t the only piece I’ve written…that…and baking gets me through 🙂

  4. Thanks writer Mead:)

    And thanks for your tip. I’ve never tried baking … what a great idea … especially if it’s chocolate related:)

    I love your attitude to rejection. We can’t pin all our hopes on one thing can we? It always helps to have another submission to send out and hope for.

    Good luck with your submission:)


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